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Decididuous trees for Minonk

Updated May 31, 2009 by David Uphoff
Unless you are 90 years old try to resist planting fast growing trees. They do not live very long and they are usually messy. Refer to the end of this article for trees that I recommend not to plant. The trees I recommend below is not an exhaustive list but it does give a guide to trees that grow well in this area from my 35 years experience of tree planting. All of the following trees that I recommend are fairly large and should be planted at least 30 feet from the nearest building or from another tree to give it room to grow and also to allow its beauty to be seen. I am ranking the trees in my order of preference which is purely subjective on my part.

Sugar Maple: This is my favorite tree because of its beautiful fall colors and also because of its symetrical form with dense deep green foliage. Try not to plant the seedling variety because the leaves are thin and are very suseptible to leaf tatter from hot and dry summer winds. The best cultivar of Sugar Maple to plant is the "Green Mountain" variety.

Greenspire Linden: This is a species of the little-leaf linden family and has a very compact and conical shape. Its leaves are heart-shaped and dark green. Its dense foliage can cause grass to die underneath it so it is best to plant away from the house.

Swamp White Oak: Oaks are long lived trees and are planted for the next generation. They grow slower than maples or ash trees but can live up to 300 years. The Swamp White Oak grows faster than most oaks and the underneath of the leaf is lighter than the top. Its leaves do not curl up like the native White Oak trees in the area and has a very attractive shape. Allow plenty of room for the tree as it can eventually reach heights of over 100 feet.

Emerald Lustre Norway Maple: This variety of the Norway Maple trees has a very dark and dense foliage and has a rounded form that makes it appear to be almost sculptured. Its dense foliage can also cause the loss of grass under the tree so plant it away from the house. Planting a ground cover such as pachysandra under mature trees is very attractive and will cover up bare spots.

Redmond Linden tree: The Redmond Linden tree has a pyramidal shape similar to the Greenspire Linden. Its heart shaped leaves are larger than the Greenspire Linden but has the same dense foliage.

Red maple: Red maples have brilliant red fall color. The leaves are smaller than the sugar maple leaf and are more suseptible to leaf tatter and, therefore, should be planted in a more protected area. The red maple is not as dense as sugar or norway maples allowing grass to grow better underneath the tree. The two best cultivars of red maples to plant are October Glory and Red Sunset. The biggest red maple tree in Minonk is located at the northwest corner of Fifth and Walnut Streets.

Red Oak: The Red Oak tree is the fastest growing of the oak trees and has a deep red color in the fall. The tree has a pleasant open shape and does not lose branches during wind storms. A nice red oak tree can be viewed across from the Fieldcrest Elementary South Grade School in front of the second house from the corner of Johnson and Fifth.

Hackberry: The Hackberry tree is a tall vase shaped tree that looks similar to the American Elm tree when mature. It is fairly fast growing and provides filtered shade. It is long lived and disease resistance with yellow leaves in the fall.

Disease resistant American Elm tree: There are several cultivars of the American Elm tree that are said to be disease resistant to the Dutch Elm Disease. The Princeton Elm has proved to be resistant to the disease since it was discovered in 1920 and, therefore, appears to have a natural immunity. The other varieties that are disease resistant have been developed by researchers. They are the Jefferson Elm, the Liberty Elm and the Valley Forge Elm. These trees are definitely worth planting as they are fast growing and have high arching branches that provide ample shade and have a graceful shape reminiscent of the original American Elm that those living in the 1950's can remember.

Tulip tree: A tulip tree is a fast grower and will grow extremely tall and narrow. It has a nice deep green leaf with the shape of the profile of a tulip. It is called a tulip tree, however, because of its creme and rose colored tulip shaped flowers that bear in the spring in mature trees.

While all trees are a thing of beauty there are a few trees that I would recommend against planting for the reasons that I give below.

Trees not to plant

Chinese Elm or Siberian Elm: This tree was planted to replace the American Elm because of its rapid growth. Unfortunately, its rapid growth resulted in weak tree limbs that break off easily during storms creating a mess and also are short-lived, usually less than 40 years.

Pin Oak: The pin oak tree does not grow well in the Minonk area because of the lack of iron in the soil. Twenty years after planting the tree the leaves may start to turn yellow due to this deficiency and the tree may eventually die. Not all pin oaks are affected because of the variability of the soil. However, unless you want to test your soil for its PH factor, why take a chance on planting a tree that may die in twenty years?

Ash trees: Ash trees are one of the most common trees in the Minonk area. Unfortunately, they are being threatened to extinction like the American Elm due to the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer that has invaded the midwest. Millions of ash trees have already died in Michigan and Ohio and the disease has spread to the Chicago area as well and it is a matter of time before it reaches the Minonk area. There is a chemical called Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control that can be applied to the trees and supposedly gives protection to the Emerald Ash Borer. Those who have ash trees should consider applying this product to the base of their trees every year to keep the trees disease resistant.

Poplar trees: Both the Lombardy and the Bolleana Poplar tree are extremely fast growing and start to die off after ten years when you will have to cut them down and replace with a better tree.

Weeping Willow: These trees are extremely messy and should not be planted in an urban yard. They also are notorious for plugging up sewer tiles. The only appropriate place to plant them is near a pond because the roots love to go to water and they create a nice reflection in the water.

Redbud: These trees are shortlived in this area and will probably die within 20 years. They do best in the wilds of a forest or timber.

Mountain Ash: They die very easily in this area and probably will not last very long.

Tree of Heaven: This tree gained fame as the tree in the book "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". However, it is not a tree for Minonk. Its flowers give off a very noxious odor and the leaves are very sparse. Not a pretty tree.

Cottonwood: These trees become huge and attract lightning. Unless you buy a cottonless variety, take a pass on this tree. It is appropriate for country plantings but not for the city.

White birch: The white birch tree does not live very long in this area because it usually attracts bugs that eventually kill the tree. The river birch, however, will grow well in this area although it does not have the brilliant white bark of the white birch. Note that birch trees will lose a lot of their branches during an ice storm.

Box Elder: These trees attract box elder bugs and also starts losing branches and dying off at an early age. These trees used to grow along the creek beds in the Minonk area but have been mostly eliminated.

Evergreen trees

Ornamental trees

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