Shade Trees

The trees listed below are recommended for boulevards without overhead power lines. These varieties should do well in what are often tough planting sites. The boulevard widths (the area from curb to sidewalk) can range from 6-15 feet wide, depending on the subdivision. An 8-foot width is the norm. Given this planting area, the goal is to have a selection of hardy tree species that are medium to large in height (35-65 feet) to produce shade, slow down stormwater runoff, tolerate urban pollution, are relatively disease and insect free, and are aesthetically pleasing. *Note, descriptions cited from certain nurseries are not an endorsement of that nursery, these are just citations to give credit for the information.*



  • A native tree species.
  • Tend to perform well without major disease or insect problems.
  • Drop fruit bracts in summer, can be messy.
  • Flowers are loved by bees.
  • Has a tendency to form poor branch unions without early structural pruning.


Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Boulevard Linden  Tilia americana 'Boulevard'  Narrow pyramidal growth. Height: 60'.
Redmond Linden  Tilia americana 'Redmond'  Upright growth pattern, and will not droop as much as other linden species. Height: 60-70'.
Frontyard Linden  Tilia americana 'Bailyard'  Symmetrical with dense foliage. Height: 60-75'.
Greenspire Linden  Tilia cordata 'Greenspire'  Faster growth rate than other Lindens. Dense pyramidal to oval crown. Height: 40-60'.
Shamrock Linden  Tilia x 'Baileyi'  Stouter branched, larger leaved, faster growing hybrid.
Harvest Gold Linden  Tilia mongolica 'Harvest Gold'  Upright tree, hybrid of a little leaf linden and a Mongolian linden. Height: 25-45'.

Description Sources: Gilman and Watson (1994), NDSU Agriculture and University Extension, NDSU North Dakota Tree Selector, University of Florida IFAS Extension, and Greenwood Nursery.

MapleNorway Maple
  • A popular tree that can struggle in alkaline soils.
  • Clay County has alkaline soils, and this makes it more difficult for plants to take up iron and manganese, which can lead to iron chlorosis in maples. (yellowing leaves)
  • Tend to be over planted, which can lead to problems during insect or disease outbreaks
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Emerald Lustre Norway Maple  Acer platanoides 'Pond'    Tolerates pollution well. Height: 40-50'.
Green Mountain Sugar Maple  Acer saccharum 'Green Mountain'  Adaptable to alkaline soils. Rapid growth, resistant to leaf scorch. Height: 50-60'.
Black Maple   Acer saccarum ssp. nigrum  Subspecies of Sugar Maple. Has darker leaves and bark than a standard sugar maple. Height: 60-80'.
Northern Flare Sugar Maple  Acer saccharum 'Sisseton' From a population of sugar maples in South Dakota. It is very winter-hardy, but sensitive to road salt, soil compaction, and pollution. Height 40-50'.
State Street Miyabe Maple
Acer miyabei 'Morton'
Excellent heat and drought tolerance, as well as tolerance of alkaline soils. Has distinct corky bark. Height 30-40'.

Description Sources: MN Department of Agriculture, Morton Arboretum, and Missouri Botanical Society.



  • American Elm has been decimated by Dutch Elm Disease (DED) for decades.
  • All varieties are DED resistant.
  • Fast-growing and adaptable to tough sites.
  • Elms need frequent pruning in the first 15 years to help trees develop with good structure and strong branch attachments.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Discovery Elm  Ulmus davidiana var. japonica 'Discovery'
Highly resistant to Dutch elm disease. Height: 35-55'.
Cathedral Elm  Ulmus x 'Cathedral'  University of Wisconsin introduction, good resistance to DED, but not as cold hardy as New Horizon.
New Horizon Elm  Ulmus x 'New Horizon'  Tolerant to verticulum wilt, excellent resistance to DED, and resists elm leaf miner. Height: 30-40'. 
Vanguard Elm  Ulmus x 'Morton Plainsman'  Developed for the cold and heat of the Great Plains. Vigorous grower. Resistant to DED and elm yellows. Height: 45-50'. 
Prairie Expedition Elm  Ulmus americana 'Lewis & Clark'
DED resistant NDSU introduction. Typical American elm form. Height: 55-60'.
Washington Elm  Ulmus americana 'Washington'  DED resistant, said to be a clone of the tree General George Washington stood under as he assumed command of the continental army. Height: 70-80'.
Discovery Elm  Ulmus davidiana var. japonica 'Discovery'  Slow-growing, drought tolerant, DED resistant, vase shaped at maturity. Height: 35'.
St. Croix Elm
Ulmus americana 'St. Croix'
Selected from a parent tree in Afton, MN. Height 40'.

 Descriptoin Sources: UMN Extension, Morton Arboretum, and Missouri Botanical Society. Photo: Chicagoland Grows.



  • Has been used to replace elms lost to DED.
  • Has very unique bark and edible berries that can persist through the winter.
  • "The name hackberry originated from the Scottish "hagberry" which in England was the common name for bird cherry. (Iowa State University)
  • Tolerant to salt spray, pollution, and adaptable to many site locations.
  • More prone to decay after wounding or with large prune cuts. These should be structured pruned young to minimize wounding.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Common Hackberry  Celtis occidentalis  Height 50-75' and spread 50'.

Description Source: Iowa State University.

Honey LocustHoney Locust

  • Unique leaf structure gives dappled shade.
  • Very adaptable to drought and multiple soil conditions.
  • Medium sized tree that can be planted along boulevards or parking lots.
  • Tolerant of road salt.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Northern Acclaim Honeylocust  Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Harve' Seedless and thorn-less NDSU introduction. Height: 40-50'. 
Prairie Silk Honeylocust  Gleditsia triacanthos inermis var 'Dursan'

Originated in Manitoba, Canada.

Height: 20-25'.

Description Sources: NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program and Mortorn Arboretum.

Amur CorktreeAmur Corktree

  • Seems to be winter hardy and slow growing.
  • No serious insect or disease problems.
  • Only male trees will be planted.
  • Prefers alkaline soils, moderately tolerant of road salt.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
His Majesty Corktree  Phellodendron schalinense  University of MN introduction. Male only. Height: 40'. 
Amur Corktree  Phellodendron amurense  Height: 30-45'. 

Description Sources: Morton Arboretum and UMN Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • Hardy tree for the area.
  • Ohio Buckeye is prone to leaf scorch.
  • Produces a nut that attracts wildlife.
  • Produces many flowers in spring and nuts in fall that attract wildlife.
  • Moderately tolerant of alkaline soils, soil salt, and salt spray.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Prairie Torch Hybrid Buckeye  Aesculus x 'Bergeson' 

NDSU introduction and Bergeson Nursery introduction. Very bright red fall color. Height 30'.

Autumn Splendor Buckeye  Aesculus x arnoldiana 'Autumn Torch'
UMN introduction. Semi-glossy, emerald green foliage, red-purple fall color.
Homestead Buckeye  Aesculus x 'Homestead'
Red fall color, SDSU introduction with a dense crown.

Description Source: NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program, NDSU Ohio Buckeye Handbook, UMN Agriculture Experiment Station, and Morton Arboretum.

Kentucky Coffeetree CoffeetreeMoorheadcroppededited

  • Drought resistant, tolerant of pollution, and adaptable to a variety of soils.
  • Slow to moderate growth rate.
  • Forms a uniform, picturesque crown at maturity.
  • Reaches height of 60-75'.
  • Native to the Midwest.
  • Large mammals that lived millions of years ago probably ate the pods and dispersed the seeds.
  • "Native Americans made coffee from roasted, ground seeds (raw seeds are toxic), and European settlers apparently learned from them." (Missouri Department of Conservation)
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Kentucky Coffeetree  Gymnocladus dioicus If a female tree is planted, pods will grow in fall. These are only used in parks.
Stately Manor Kentucky Coffeetree  Gymnocladus dioicus 'Stately Manor"
'Stately manor' University of MN introduction. Seedless selection. 
Espresso Kentucky Coffeetree
Gymnocladus dioicus 'Espresso'
Seedless selection. Arching branches provide a vase-like shape. 

Description Sources: Morten Arboretum and Missouri Department of Conservation.

Mountain AshMountain Ash Tree

  • Mountain ashes are members of the rose family, so they are not true ashes and are not hosts to the emerald ash borer.
  • Tend to be small to medium-sized trees.
  • Susceptible to problems with iron chlorosis and fire blight.
  • Fruit attracts birds.
  • Sensitive to road salt.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
European Mountain Ash  Sorbus aucuparia  Native to Europe and Asia. Bacterial fire blight can be a severe problem. Height: 20-40'.
Oakleaf Mountain Ash  Sorbus x hybridia  Can tolerate acidic to alkaline soils. Height: 30'.
Russian Mountain Ash  Sorbus aucuparia 'Rossica' Needs well-drained soil, resistant to fire blight. Highly tolerant of urban pollution.

Description Source: Missouri Botanical Garden and Millcreek Nursery.


  • Smaller, native species.
  • Has hop-like fruits, hence the alternative name, hop hornbeam.
  • Resistant to many disease and insect problems.
  • 20-40' in height, slow growing.
  • Tolerates dry, alkaline, and clay soil.
  • Intolerant of salt.
  • Slow to establish.
Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Ironwood  Ostrya virginiana  Height 30', spread 25'.

Description: Morton Arboretum.

Black WalnutBlack Walnut

  • A large oval to rounded, somewhat open-crowned tree.
  • Used extensively by over 20 species of wildlife for food and cover.
  • Produces walnuts.
  • Needs to be sited carefully because it produces a chemical that is toxic to some plants.
  • Grows to be 50-70' tall.
  • Tolerates alkaline soil, clay soil, and road salt.
  • One of the best woods for furniture among native trees.
  • Native Americans reportedly used the husks of the nut to throw into ponds to poison fish and make them easier to catch. (Missouri Botanical Garden)

Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Black Walnut
Juglins nigra

Intolerant of shade. Difficult to

transplant due to deep tap root.

Description Source: Missouri Botanical Society.

OakBur Oak

  • Native.
  • Produces acorns.
  • Excellent tree for wildlife food and cover.
  • Slow to moderate growth rate.
  • Majestic crown and interesting bark.

Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Bur Oak
Quarcus macrocarpa
Can tolerate occasionally flooded soil and drought conditions. Can handle alkalinity. May take 35 years to bear acorns. Height: 70-80'.
Swamp White Oak
 Quercus bicolor
Leaves are shiny green on the top and silvery on the underside. Can be susceptible to chlorosis. Height: 50-60'. 
Top Gun Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa 'Top Gun'

Narrow oak variety. Crown is half the width of a bur oak. Height: 50'.
Heritage Oak
 Quercus x macdaniellii 'Clemons'
Dark green, tatter and mildew resistant foliage. Height: 60-80'.

Description Source: Missouri Botanical Society, Morten Arboretum, Bylands, and McKay Nursery.

Prairie Horizon AlderAlder

  • Somewhat drought tolerant and can handle standing water.
  • Medium to fast growth.
  • Shade tolerant and also does well in sunny areas.
  • Adaptable to many soil types.

Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Prairie Horizon Alder
Alnus hirsuta cv.'Harbin'
Purple catkins and cone-like fruit that persists through the winter. NDSU selection. Height: 25-45'.

Description Sources: NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program and

Gingko BilobaGingko

  • This Species is being trialed for cold tolerance.

  • Reaches a height of 50-80 feet.

  • Tolerant of alkaline and acidic, compacted soils.

  • Tolerant of air pollution, heat, and salt.

  • Considered a living fossil, one of the longest-living tree species and has had fossils found from 270 million years ago.

Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Gingko Biloba
Gingko biloba
Fan-shaped leaves.

Description Source: Arbor Day Foundation and Missouri Botanical Garden.

Northern CatalpaInkedMoorheadCatalpaOriginaltouched_LI

  • Midwest native.
  • Grows 40-60 feet tall.
  • Seed pods persist through the winter.
  • Tolerates alkaline and acidic soils, moderately tolerant to salt.
  • Weak branch structure.
  • Flowers attract pollinators.

Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Northern Catalpa
Catalpa speciosa
Pollution sensitive.

Description Source: The Morton Arboretum.


  • Fast Growing.
  • Can be a multi-stemmed tree or trained to be a single-stemmed tree.
  • If birches are stressed, they can be susceptible to bronze birch borer and killed. (Bronze birch borer is a native borer and does not cause problems to otherwise healthy birch trees.)

Common Name  Scientific Name  Comments 
Prairie Dream Birch
Betula papyrifera 'Varen'
Excellent stress tolerance. Resistant to bronze birch borer. Height: 50'.
Dakota Pinnacle Birch
Betula platyphulla 'Fargo'
Narrow column-like shape. Some resistance to bronze birch borer. Height: 35'.

Description Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden and NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program.