Overlooked Trees for Landscape Planting

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

ornamental tree that many people overlook for landscaping is the Common pawpaw (Asimina triloba). It lives in rich woods throughout most of Missouri, except in a few counties in the extreme northern part of the state. Both people and animals love to eat the fruit.

Its flower is purplish. Flowers are singular and fairly large (1-2 inches). Pawpaw leaves are between 6 and 12 inches long. When crushed, they smell like cucumbers to some people.

Pawpaw grows where forest soils are rich and moist. If your soils are chalky, you should pick another species. Pawpaw can spread by root suckers and can form thickets, so it should be planted in natural, rather than formal, settings. Its maximum height is usually 15-20 feet, but it will sometimes form a large, multi-stemmed shrub. It can be difficult to transplant and is best moved as a seedling. Many mail order catalogs sell small pawpaw seedlings, but you'll probably have to search hard to find them at a nursery.

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), sometimes called Sarvis-tree, Shadbush or Juneberry, grows throughout Missouri and is one of the first native trees to bloom in the spring. This Missouri native's prolific, small white flowers look like a white cloud in the forest understory during late March and early April. In the fall, the leaves can vary from yellow to orange to deep red.

Serviceberry also grows as a multi-stemmed shrub and reaches heights of 15-25 feet. Its spread can equal its height. On a good site, you can expect it to grow to 9-10 feet in five to eight years. Serviceberry tolerates full sun or partial shade, but more sun will provide more flowers. Choose a site that has some drainage and can be kept moist.

Serviceberry fruit doesn't stay on the tree long enough to create a mess on your sidewalks or deck. Birds love them, and serviceberries make excellent pies, jams, and jellies.

Serviceberry bark is smooth and gray, with long pinkish streaks. Trees with attractive bark can be a wonderful asset to the winter landscape, especially when planted in front of a backdrop of evergreens.

Another native tree with spectacular bark is the American Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea). Yellowwood is native to the southwestern corner of Missouri but can grow throughout the state.

Because of its size, yellowwood can be used as an ornamental or shade tree. It grows to heights of 30-50 feet,

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