Color in the Landscape

sassafras_anne benning_rail trailTwelve Deciduous Native Small to Medium Trees for Color in the Landscape

If you are looking to add some pops of color to your yard, this chart shows 12 smaller trees or large shrubs that provide spring and/or fall bursts of color and are native to our region or just south of our region.  These natives can enhance the beauty of your landscape, improve the screening of your property, and support a wide range of local wildlife, including bees and birds.  Links and references have been provided so you can do additional research to determine if a specific tree is right for your growing conditions and any other considerations you might have. 

Flower Color Botanical Name Common Name Height Exposure Soil Moisture Flower Season Fall Foliage Notes
White Amelanchier canadensis Serviceberry, shadbush 10 - 20 feet sun to p. shade dry, avg., wet April - May Orange - Purple Other species, notably A. arborea and A. laevis have similar attributes
  Chionanthus virginicus Fringe tree 10 - 20 feet sun to shade avg., wet late spring bright yellow Highly fragrant. Native to the Southeastern US, this understory tree is hardy to zone 5 and is drought tolerant.
  Crataegus crus-galli Cockspur hawthorn 35 feet sun to p. shade dry, avg. May n/a Flowers have been described as odd smelling. Produces red berries loved by birds.
  Halesia carolina Carolina Silverbell 30 - 40 feet sun to p. shade avg. May n/a Native to the Southeastern US, this understory tree is hardy to zone 4. Seeds are poisonous.
  Magnolia virginiana Sweetbay Magnolia 10 - 20 feet sun to p. shade avg., wet May - June Red, brown fruit in late summer/early fall Fragrant
  Oxydendrum arboreum Sourwood 30 - 70 feet sun to p. shade avg. July Brilliant red A tree for all seasons with its white flowers, yellow fruits, and spectacular fall foliage. Sourwood is an excellent addition for small spaces.
Relatively slow growing

  Prunus maritima Beach plum up to 8 feet sun to p. shade dry, avg., wet May n/a A shrub that can be trained into a small tree. Typically found in coastal sand dunes, beach plum also produces small purple fruits in late summer/early fall. Plant two to ensure cross pollination.
  Swida alternifolia Pagoda dogwood 10 - 20 feet p. shade to shade avg. May - June Reddish purple Formerly classified under genus Cornus, pagoda dogwood is not affected by dogwood anthracnose
Yellow Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel 6 - 15 feet sun to shade avg., wet Oct. - Dec. n/a Provides late fall floral resources for pollinators
  Lindera benzoin Spicebush 6 - 12 sun to shade avg., wet April n/a This small tree/large shrub is a great native alternative to forsythia.
  Sassafras albidum Sassafras 50 feet sun to p. shade dry, avg. April Wide range of fall color Forms large suckering colonies. Easily identified by its three leaf shapes - mitten, oval and three-lobed
Pink Cercis canadensis Redbud 20 feet sun to p. shade dry, avg. May n/a Provides wonderful spring color along woodland edges or in the understory

Images courtesy of the Native Plant Trust

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McCargo, Heather and Anna Fialkoff.  "Native Trees for Northeast Landscapes."  Wild Seed Project. 2021.

McCargo, Heather. "Small Flowering Trees: A Dozen Native Species for Limited Spaces." Wild Seed Project.  Accessed 5 October 2021.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

Native Plant Trust