Recommended Shade Trees for Private Landscapes of New Brighton

Over the past few years many private yard trees in New Brighton have been lost due to living and non-living ailments such as storms, drought, insects, disease, and stem girdling roots, In order to combat these losses to New Brighton’s urban & community forest, the City has provided a list of recommended shade tree species for homeowners or property owners who are interested in replacing a lost mature tree or enriching their current nonboulevard tree canopy. While some of the species may be more challenging to find than others, this list provides an extensive set of possibilities for residents who would like some guidance on what species to plant or what could be added to an existing landscape. A diverse canopy can help to avoid problems with epidemic diseases like Dutch elm disease or periods of summer drought that over time weakens and eventually leads to the death of many mature trees.

Large-sized Deciduous Trees (~50’ tall or greater at maturity)

  • American Elm (Ulmus americana); very hardy and tolerant of a wide variety of sites, common Dutch elm disease resistant cultivars include ‘Accolade’, ‘Cathedral’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Princeton’ or ‘Valley Forge’
  • Basswood (Tilia americana); also called American linden, excellent species for pollinators, dense shade
  • Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis); native to southeast Minnesota, good wildlife value, smooth bark
  • Black walnut (Juglans nigra); good wildlife value, attractive form, avoid planting near gardens
  • Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa); corky bark, originally widespread in New Brighton, resistant to oak wilt
  • Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoids); plant away from pavement or structures, important for honeybees Gingko (Gingko biloba); pyramidal growth form, ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Princeton Sentry’ good male cultivars
  • Ginko (Ginko biloba); pyramidal growth form, ‘Autumn Gold’ and ‘Princeton Sentry’ good male cultivars
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis); very drought tolerant, corky bark, good replacement tree for diseased elms
  • Heritage Oak (Quercus ‘heritage’); cross between bur and English oak, relatively fast growing
  • Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus); unique flaky bark, ‘Espresso’ is a good fruitless cultivar
  • Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa); cigar-like fruit, attractive spring flowers, fast growing
  • Northern Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis); originally widespread in New Brighton, susceptible to oak wilt
  • Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra); susceptible to oak wilt, fast growing, somewhat shade tolerant
  • Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides); fast growing, attractive white bark, short-lived species
  • Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata); native to southeast Minnesota, unique “shaggy” bark, good wildlife value
  • Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum); great fall color, use with caution – plant only where roots will be cooler
  • Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis); rare in Twin Cities but a good species to try, unique patterned bark
  • Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor); good urban oak tree, tolerant of inundation, resistant to oak wilt
  • Weeping Willow (Salix alba); attractive weeping foliage, fast growing but tends to have weak branches
  • White Oak (Quercus alba); resistant to oak wilt, slow growing, originally widespread in New Brighton

Medium-sized Deciduous Trees (~25-50’ tall or greater at maturity)

  • Amur Chokecherry (Prunus maackii); showy copper colored bark, requires formative pruning when young
  • Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera), fast growing native poplar species, good for honeybees
  • Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), attractive bark at all stages, good for wildlife and native pollinators
  • Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanths); good thornless cultivars include ‘Shademaster’, ‘Imperial’, Skyline’, and ‘Sunburst’, fast growing species, diffuse shade, subject to nectria canker (avoid pruning in humid weather)
  • Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana); attractive smooth bark when young, hop-like fruit, very strong wood
  • Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata); attractive smooth bark, white flowers, native to east Asia
  • Magnolia (Magnolia spp.); brilliant spring flowers, 4 varieties that are hardy to the southern Minnesota Hardiness Zone 4 include ‘Star’, ‘Leonard Messel’, ‘Merrill’ and ‘Cucumber tree’
  • Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra); orange-reddish fall color, ‘Autumn Splendor’ a good cultivar
  • River Birch (Betula nigra); attractive exfoliating bark, much more drought tolerant than white birch species

Small-sized Deciduous Trees (less than ~25’ tall at maturity)

  • Amur Maackia (Maackia amurensis); attractive foliage and flowers, tough, native to northeast Asia
  • American plum (Prunus Americana); attractive flowers, edible fruit, use common plum over cultivars
  • Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana); Best in moist organic soil, attractive “muscle-like” bark
  • Canada Plum (Prunus nigra); ‘Princess Kay’ a good cultivar, attractive winter bark
  • Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana); native to Minnesota, edible fruit, susceptible to black knot stem canker
  • Crabapple or Apple (Malus spp.); many cultivars, use sparingly due to the overplanting of this species,
  • Malus Ioensis (prairie crabapple) is the crabapple that is native to southern Minnesota
  • Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis); attractive spring flowers, growth form is more horizontal than vertical
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.); Numerous varieties exist with attractive fruit and flowers, ‘Cockspur’, ‘Crimson Cloud’, and ‘Russian’ are options, most nursery selections are thornless
  • Mountain ash, American (Sorbus americana); showy fruit, not a true ash (no risk from emerald ash borer)
  • Mountain ash, Showy (Sorbus decora); showy fruit, not a true ash (no risk from the emerald ash borer)
  • Nannyberry Viburnum (Viburnum lentago); native, large shrub/small tree, reddish fall color, hardy
  • Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia); native, excellent wildlife value, white flowers, plant in moist soil
  • Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.); good berries for birds, several varieties available, also called juneberries
  • Sumac, Smooth (Rhus glabra); excellent scarlet red fall color, tolerant of dry sites, smooth branches
  • Sumac, Staghorn (Rhus typhina); same as smooth sumac but with “fuzzy” branches
  • Three Flowered Maple (Acer triflorum); excellent autumn color, attractive papery bark

Coniferous Trees (all sizes)

  • Cedar, Eastern Red (Juniperus virginiana); native to southern Minnesota, very drought tolerant
  • Fir, Balsam (Abies balsamea); fragrant needles, very conical shape, plant in a cool and/or shady location
  • Fir, Douglas (Pseudotsuga mensezii); native to western United States, a drought tolerant evergreen
  • Canada Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis); attractive rare evergreen, requires shade and moist soil
  • Pine, Red (Pinus resinosa); prefers sandy well drained soils, the state tree of Minnesota
  • Pine, Scotch (Pinus sylvestris); unique orange bark, often exhibits crooked upper canopy growth form
  • Pine, White (Pinus strobus); attractive form, plant in a cooler, moist site, leader may need deer protection
  • Spruce, Black Hills (Picea glauca var. densata); cultivar of the white spruce with better drought tolerance
  • Spruce, Norway (Picea abies); good landscape species that exhibits “drooping” twigs, native to Europe
  • Spruce, White (Picea glauca); native to northern Minnesota, a good windbreak species
  • Tamarack (Larix laricina); large deciduous conifer (drops needles in fall), excellent yellow fall color


  • Most deciduous trees need winter bark protection from rabbits by wrapping a white tree guard around the trunk
  • Plant maples with caution due to recent prevalence of hot dry summers that severely stress most species of maple
  • Colorado spruce (blue spruce) is not recommended because of various needle diseases that cause problems in our climate
  • Although many people like crabapples, they are considered to be currently overplanted in New Brighton and we would recommend using a variety of other small fleshy fruit bearing species as an alternative