Planting a new tree is a great thing to do, but planting an underused tree is even better! For one, it increases the biodiversity around us. Having a variety of plant and animal species increases the health of an ecosystem.
Another thing to consider, is the positive effects using an underused tree would have if there were a pest outbreak. Right now, we are dealing with the potential of the Emerald Ash Borer coming to Pueblo. If that were to happen, we could lose many of our Ash trees. Since Ash trees have been widely planted for decades that would cause many of our neighborhood trees to be gone. If we had a greater variety of tree species, one pest could not wipe out such a large number of trees.
If you are thinking of planting a tree, look around and don’t choose a tree species that you see already planted near your home. Here are some ideas for underused trees you can plant to increase the tree biodiversity in your neighborhood:
- Aesculus flava (octandra) or Yellow Buckeye- Has an oval shape at maturity and can grow up to 50 feet tall. Yellow flowers appear around May. Has a great orange color in the fall. Ideally it would like a moist, well-draining soil, and it can adapt to our alkaline soils.
- Quercus muehlenbergii or Chinkapin Oak- Grows up to 45 feet tall and can spread just as wide if not wider. The leaves have a nice rust color in the fall. Being an oak, it will have an acorn that will mature in the first season.
- Pyrus calleryana ‘Whitehouse’ or Whitehouse Callery Pear- Has a columnar/pyramidal form. The leaves are glossy green, and long and narrow. Leaves turn reddish-purple earlier in the fall than other clones. The white flowers are a little later than other clones of Callery Pear.
- Crataegus x lavallei or Lavalle Hawthorn- It grows 15-20 feet tall and has a round to oval crown. The leaves are glossy green in spring and summer and copper red in the fall. It has white flowers that bloom in May or June and a red fruit that will last through winter.
- Maackia amurensis or Amur Maackia- Grows to about 20-25 feet tall and wide and has a round crown. The interesting bark peels when mature. It blooms in June and July with fragrant white flowers.
In addition to these great underused trees, native species are also a wise choice. You can find a list of Colorado native trees here: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/native-trees-for-colorado-landscapes-7-421/ . Be on the lookout for my column next month where I will give some tips on how to properly plant a tree.