List of Sustainable Trees and Shrubs
(species I through Z only)
Varies with cultivar
|Small-leaved evergreen shrub prefers moist, well-drained soil, full sun/part shade, adaptable.|
|Ilex x meserveae hybrids|
|Evergreen shrub prefers moist, well-drained soil supplemented with organic matter, acid conditions, sun/part shade. Dark blue-green leaves, bright red berries. Well adapted to New England. Many cultivars favored by deer.|
15-25' x 15'
|Prefers moist, acid soil, sun/part shade. Leaves resemble Mountain Laurel, bright red berries on long stalks.|
Varies with cultivar
|Moist, well-drained soils, pH adaptable, sun. Salt, drought and wind tolerant. Useful as a groundcover, shrub, screen, etc., depending on the cultivar. Some cultivars susceptible to blights, which can cause serious dieback. The following cultivars are reported to be resistant to one or two of the blights: ‘Foemina’ (P), ‘Iowa’ (P), ‘Keteleeri’ (P), ‘Pfitzeriana-aurea’ (P+K), ‘Robusta Green’ (P), var. sargentii (P+K), ‘Gold Coast’ (K).|
1.5' x spreading
|Adaptable to poor, dry soils, full sun, salt tolerant, good for coastal locations. Low-growing groundcover, intolerant of wet soils.|
40-60' x equal spread
|Moist soils, full sun. Tolerant of alkaline soil and long lived. Coarse textured plant provides tropical effect in the landscape.|
3-6' x 6-9'
|Hearty, free-flowing shrub. Plant in full sun/part shade. ‘Pleniflora’ has double, golden yellow flowers and grows in an upright, lanky form. Best grown unpruned except thinning.|
30-40' x equal spread
|Adaptable to a wide range of soils, tolerates drought, heat, wind, pH and air pollution. Yellow blossoms in mid-summer followed by lantern-like seed capsules in fall.|
6-10' x 8'
|Adaptable to a variety of soil conditions; prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun. Usually requires annual pruning of older canes to retain form and prevent legginess, or cut back to ground.|
70-90' x 25-40'
|Prefers moist, well-drained, acid soils. Will not tolerate heat, shade or pollution. L. laricina only grows to 40-80', less heat tolerant.|
2-4' x equal spread
|Dwarf evergreen shrub forms a rounded mass. Prefers moist, sandy, peaty soils in sun to part shade. Transplants easily. Pure white flowers in May-June.|
6-12' x equal spread
|Prefers acid, moist soils in full sun/partial shade. Small greenish-yellow flowers appear in early spring. Bright green leaves turn bright yellow in fall. Fruit bright red in late September to October.|
60-75' x 2-3 spread
|Difficult to transplant and needs large area for root development. Beautiful, glossy green leaves with rich yellow-purple fall color. Messy fruit.|
70-90' x 35-50'
|Large tree. Full sun, pH adaptable. Prefers moist soils. Golden yellow fall color. Beautiful green-orange flowers do not appear until tree matures.|
|Fast growing, twining vine. Orange-red to red to yellow flowers in early spring. Great for hummingbirds.|
20-30' x equal spread
|Very adaptable, full sun, pH and drought tolerant.|
50-80' x equal spread
|Prefers moist, well-drained acid soils, but performs well in calcareous soils also. Not tolerant of extreme drought or wetness, or air pollution. Native.|
15-40' x equal spread
|Many species and cultivars available. Most prefer moist, well drained soil but can be tolerant of high pH. Sun/part shade. M. x loebneri particularly urban tolerant.|
3-6' x 3-5'
|Does well in moist, acid soil. Prefers shade and protection from wind. Bright yellow flowers in April, attractive blue fruit in autumn.|
6-10' x equal spread
|Deciduous, native shrub. Good for naturalizing in cold climates. Tolerates moist soils. Bright red fruit in late summer.|
|Black Tupelo, Sour Gum|
30-50' x 20-30'
|Prefers moist, well-drained soils but tolerates wet soils, will also grow on upland areas. Full sun/light shade. Difficult to transplant. Excellent orange-scarlet fall foliage.|
|American Hop Hornbeam,|
25-40' x 15-30'
|Prefers moist, well-drained soils, slightly acid. Tolerates dry conditions once established, full sun/part shade. One of the most drought tolerant and salt resistant small trees. Difficult to transplant.|
|One of the best evergreen ground covers for deep shade. Spreads by rhizomes to form a dense mat. White flowers in March to early April. ‘Green Sheen’ is a particularly nice pest free cultivar of P. terminalis.|
20-40' x 15-30'
|Excellent pest-free specimen tree with attractive exfoliating bark and fall color. Tolerant of varying conditions once established, sun/part shade.|
|Deciduous vine will crawl on ground, up trees or other structures. Tolerates virtually any condition. Low maintenance cover for walls. Foliage of P. quinquefolia is more lustrous and leaf is 3-lobed.|
1' x 3-5'
|Low growing, evergreen shrub with dark green leaves. Full sun/part shade. Tolerates high pH.|
30-45' x equal or greater spread
|Adaptable to a wide range of soils, tolerates pH, drought, air pollution and full sun. Grows quite large so siting is important; fruit can be messy.|
10-12' x 10-12'
|Sweetly scented white flowers. Full sun/light shade. Transplants readily. Fast growing.|
40-60' x 10-20'
|Broad conical tree. Prefers full sun to some shade. Light green needles form dense shape. ‘Conica’, the Alberta Spruce, is widely sold and used in the landscape. Susceptible to spider mites, particularly when grown against buildings.|
50-60' x 20-30'
|Graceful evergreen trees tolerate drought, high pH and urban conditions. Protect from winter winds.|
|Mountain Pieris, Fetter Bush|
2-6' x equal spread
|Evergreen shrub prefers moist, well-drained soil, tolerant of high pH and resistant to lacebug. Susceptible to Phytophthora root rot if not sited in a well-drained location. An interspecific hybrid, ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’, has flower clusters that are horizontal and arching.|
9-12' x 6-8'
|Upright, broadleaf evergreen shrub with bronze new growth which changes to dark green at maturity. White, slightly fragrant urn-shaped flowers appear in March to April. Plant in partial shade to minimize lacebug problems.|
35-50' x irregular spreading
|Very hardy for colder climates. Will survive in almost pure sand, and dry, acid soils. Initially pyramid shaped but becomes more open and flat-topped at maturity.|
30-50' x 20-35'
|Nice specimen tree with interesting, exfoliating bark. Prefers well-drained soil and sun. Tolerant of high pH.|
|Swiss Stone Pine|
30-40' x 15-20'
|Prefers well-drained, acidic soil, good air circulation, full sun. Slow growing, hardy, and salt tolerant. P. cembra possible substitute for Japanese and Austrian Black pines.|
|Japanese White Pine|
25-50' x similar or greater spread
|Requires good drainage but tolerates most soil conditions including soil compaction. Salt tolerant. Drought tolerant once established.|
1-4' x 2-4'
|Moist, well-drained soils but is very adaptable, will do well under dry conditions, full sun/light shade, likes neutral to alkaline conditions. Extremely cold hardy. Long bloom period. Many improved cultivars available.|
35'-45' x 20-35'
|Small dense tree with cinnamon-brown exfoliating bark. Prefers well-drained soil, pH tolerant, sun/shade. White flowers in May.|
6' x equal spread
|Adaptable to most soil conditions except wet, drought tolerant once established, full sun, salt tolerant. White flowers in May followed by purple fruit in late summer. Good for naturalizing in coastal plantings.|
20-30' x similar spread
|Moist, well-drained soils, full sun/light shade. Single pink flowers in spring before the foliage, fall colors of yellow to red. Considered short-lived though relatively free of problems in a trouble-prone genus.|
20-40' x wider spread
|Culture similar to the above; semi-double pink flowers in spring, occasionally re-blooming in fall. Considered short-lived though relatively pest free. ‘Autumnalis’ is a recommended variety.|
30-50' x 20-40'
|Slow-growing specimen tree, deciduous, golden yellow fall color. Prefers well-drained soil in full sun, tolerates air pollution.|
15-20' x equal spread
|Prefers moist, well-drained soils but very adaptable, sun/heavy shade. An interesting native tree with trifoliate leaves and fragrant flowers in June.|
20-30' x equal spread
|Attractive small tree with white fragrant flowers in June. Prefers moist, acid, well-drained soils, sun/light shade.|
6-18' x equal spread
|Berry-like, orange-red fruit ripens in September and persists into winter. Plant in full sun for best fruit but can tolerate part-shade. Use as an informal hedge. Great for trellising and espaliers on walls. Difficult to transplant.|
30-50' x 20-35'
|Adaptable to varying soils, air pollution, etc. ‘Bradford’ has narrow branch crotches that are prone to breaking. ‘Aristocrat’ has more horizontal branching and is less prone to breakage than ‘Bradford’; ‘Chanticleer’ is more narrowly upright and shows better fire blight resistance. White flowers in clusters in spring, good scarlet purple fall foliage.|
40-60' x equal spread
|Prefers acid, well-drained soils but adaptable to varying conditions, may develop chlorosis on high pH soils, full sun. Simple foliage with serrated edges, attractive yellow fall color.|
50-80' x equal spread
|Adaptable to various soil types; prefers moist, acid conditions, full sun. Dark green lobed leaves, fall color red to brown. Scaly white bark attractive year round. Native.|
50-60' x equal spread
|Simple leaved oak. Easy to transplant, tolerant of dry soils and urban conditions; full sun. Native.|
70-80' x equal spread
|Large tree with large lobed leaves, white undersides. Tolerates dry sites and urban conditions. Difficult to transplant. Native.|
60-70" x 25-40'
|Prefers moist, acid soils, intolerant of high pH, full sun, tolerates wet soils and urban conditions. Deeply lobed leaves with pyramidal growth habit; lower branches droop.|
40-60' x equal spread
|Adaptable to many soil conditions, full sun, fibrous root system allows for ease of transplanting; narrow, simple leaves.|
|Northern Red Oak|
60-75' x equal spread
|Moist, acid soils, full sun. Intolerant of high pH, tolerates urban conditions. Easily transplanted.|
40-60' x equal spread
|Leaves may turn red in fall. Easy to transplant. Tolerant of drought or wet conditions.|
50-60' x variable spread
|Does well in moist, acid soils. Very difficult to transplant because of extensive tap root. Bark is nearly black with deep, vertical furrows.|
|Rhododendron species and cultivars|
Ground cover to small tree
|Over 900 species and thousands of hybrids exist, most are low maintenance plants when grown in the appropriate site. They generally prefer moist well-drained acid soils high in organic matter and perform best in partial shade. In full sun winter injury and blossom fading is more pronounced as are problems with lace bugs. In southern New England ‘Dora Amateis’ and R. maximum are particularly susceptible to lacebug when grown in full sun; and to our south, lacebug problems are much more widespread. With the exception of some of the heavily indumented rhododendrons (R. yakushimanum, R. smirnovii and hybrids), all are susceptible to the black vine weevil which can kill small plants. (See discussion under Taxus.) Among the large leaved rhododendrons, R. fortunei and its hybrids (‘Scintillation’) are very attractive to deer. Small leaved rhododendrons, including ‘PJM’, ‘Silvery Pink’, ‘Anglo’, etc., are particularly cold tolerant as are deciduous azaleas (R. schlippenbachii, R. calendulaceum, R. viscosum, etc.). The deciduous Exbury hybrids, however, have too many insect and disease problems to be included on this list. There are thousands of good hardy, hybrid, evergreen azaleas including ‘Hino crimson’, ‘Delaware Valley White’, R. yedoense var. poukhenensis, etc. However, Belgian or florist azaleas are often mistakenly sold as hardy. As a rule of thumb, if the flower looks too good to be true, it is probably not hardy. Several species are native to southern New England, including R. maximum, R. viscosum, R. prinophyllum, R. canadense and R. periclymenoides.|
5-15' x similar spread
|Good for wet or dry, rocky areas or embankments. Careful siting is important as it can form large colonies. Good for naturalizing, excellent fall color.|
4-6' x equal spread
|Prefers acid, well-drained soils in partial shade to shade. Will tolerate drought and polluted air quality. White, fragrant flowers appear in March-April. S. hookeriana var. humilis grows smaller, has black fruits, and is very cold hardy.|
30-60' x 25-40'
|Full sun/light shade. Prefers moist, acid, loamy, well-drained soil. Prune in winter. Excellent for naturalized plantings. Outstanding fall color. Native.|
|This clinging vine is similar to but not as vigorous or as large as Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris. Inflorescenses are flat-topped and 8-10" across and droop slightly. Flowers in late June or early July.|
|Japanese Pagoda Tree|
50-75' x wide spreading
|Well-drained soil supplemented with organic matter, drought and urban tolerant. White, fragrant flowers in mid summer. ‘Regent’ is reputed to flower earlier than the species.|
|Spiraea x bumalda|
2-3' x 4-5'
|A tough plant in the landscape, annual pruning required for best effect. White flowers in June-August.|
|Spiraea x vanhouttei|
6-8' x 10-12'
|Adaptable to various soil types, full sun. White flowers on arching stems in May. Requires pruning of dead wood in spring.|
2-3' x spreading
|Graceful shrub prefers well-drained soils supplemented with organic matter, drought intolerant, full sun/part shade. ‘Crispa’ makes an excellent ground cover.|
20-30' x 10-15'
|Prefers moist, acid soil supplemented with organic matter. Camellia-like blossoms flower in summer. Sun/shade. Extraordinary exfoliating bark. Leaves have orange-red-bronze fall color.|
|Symphoricarpos x chenaultii|
2' x 12'
|A cross between S. microphyllus and S. orbiculatus. Pink flowers in June and white fruit in fall. Tolerant of various soil types and high pH. ‘Hancock’ is a beautiful low-growing cultivar.|
|Littleleaf Lilac |
6-9' x 12'
|Rosy lilac, fragrant, flowers in May to early June. Adaptable, heat tolerant, mildew resistant.|
4-8' x equal spread
|Adaptable to various soil conditions, full sun, resistant to powdery mildew. ‘Miss Kim’ is a noteworthy cultivar.|
|Japanese Tree Lilac|
20-30' x 15-25'
|Good small urban tree prefers well-drained, moist soil, pH tolerant, full sun. Salt and wind tolerant. Resistant to lilac borer and powdery mildew. Early summer flowering. ‘Ivory Silk’ and ‘Summer Snow’ are excellent cultivars.|
|Taxus species and cultivars|
|High quality, versatile evergreens, slow growing, easily grown and pruned, resistant to many pests. Have been overused, and now black vine weevil is a very serious pest of young plants, particularly in the nursery. Larger plants sited in the landscape are reasonably tolerant of this pest; but because yews can harbor large populations of weevils, landscapers should exercise care in planting small susceptible plants (rhododendron, euonymus, etc.) near infested yews. The foliage and fruit of yew are toxic to children if ingested, yet the foliage qualifies as a deer candy.|
|Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’|
|Spreading English Yew|
2-4' x 12-15'
|Hardy dwarf, spreading form has pendulous branch tips and dark green needles. Tolerant of high pH but requires good drainage. ‘Adpressa’ is another good, low, shade-loving cultivar.|
10-40' x equal spread
|Prefers a moist, sandy loam, does not tolerate wet soils for any length of time. Extremely cold hardy.|
|Taxus x media cultivars|
|Hybrids of T. baccatta and T. cuspidata resemble T. cuspidata in many respects. Common cultivars include: ‘Brownii’, ‘Densiformis’, ‘Hatfieldii’, ‘Hicksii’, ‘Nigra’ and ‘Tauntonii’. Prefer moist, sandy loams, not tolerant of wet soil.|
25-30' x equal spread
|Prefers moist, well-drained soil. pH adaptable and drought tolerant once established; full sun. Small white flowers in flat-topped clusters in mid summer; attractive to bees.|
40'-60' x 10'-15'
|Very durable. Can be grown in most conditions and soils. Good plant for screens or hedges. Rich green in summer. Plant cultivars that stay green through winter.|
50-70' x 15-25'
|Moist, fertile soils but tolerant of drier soils; sun/shade; pH adaptable. A fast growing pyramidal tree with bright evergreen leaves and reddish-brown fibrous bark. Large for many landscapes but possible substitute for Eastern Hemlock.|
30-50' x 10-20'
|Dense, pyramidal, evergreen with shiny flattened leaves. Prefers moist, acid soil and some shade. Protect from drying winds.|
60-80' x 2-3 spread
|Easily transplanted. Prefer moist, acid, organic soil. Full sun/part shade; pH adaptable. T. americana is particularly suited for naturalizing. T. cordata will tolerate pollution but is more susceptible to aphids. T. tomentosa is shorter, more sustainable and will tolerate heat and drought. T. tomentosa is recommended for urban and residential plantings.|
|Hemlock wooly adelgid is now a serious pest of both Tsuga canadensis and T. caroliniana throughout southern New England. Hence, we urge caution in the use of these important landscape species. Left untreated, this pest will rapidly kill susceptible hemlocks, but yearly applications of insecticides provide effective control in the landscape. Species resistant to the adelgid include T. diversifolia, T. heterophylla, T. chinensis, T. mertensia and T. sieboldii. While all of these species are being evaluated for regional adaptability, only T. diversifolia and T. heterophylla can be recommended with reasonable confidence at this time.|
|Northern Japanese Hemlock|
35-60' x 20-30'
|Slow growing, multi-stemmed tree with dense, dark green foliage. Prefers moist sites in full sun, easily transplanted. At least one R.I. nursery has been growing this plant for years, and it appears to be well suited to our climate.|
40-50' x equal spread
|Adaptable to various soil and pH conditions, good for urban areas, resistant to Dutch elm disease, elm leaf beetle and Japanese beetle. Several new cultivars recently introduced; excellent bark and foliage.|
0.5'-2' x 2' or greater spread
|Does very well in dry, acid, poor soils. Lowbush blueberry is a managed wild crop in Maine.|
2-6" x spreading
|Evergreen groundcover prefers full sun, acid conditions and moist, cool roots. Pinkish flowers in spring and red, cranberry-like fruit in fall.|
|Evergreen, dark green foliage turns mahogany in winter. Flowers are white or pinkish borne in May-June. Prefers full sun, moist, peaty soil. Fruit is dark red.|
4-6' x 4'
|Deciduous, native shrub. Very shade tolerant and excellent for naturalizing. Suckering shrubs can form extensive thickets. Flowers are yellowish-white and fall foliage ranges from pink to rose to red to grape.|
|Viburnum x burkwoodii|
8-10' x 5-7'
|Semi-evergreen shrub tolerates heat, cold, and air pollution. Pink buds and white flowers. Very fragrant. Requires slightly moist, well-drained soil, pH adaptable.|
Viburnum x carlecephalum
Vibernum x juddii
4-5' x 4-8'
|Rounded, dense shrub with pink to reddish buds open white in April-May. Fragrance is outstanding. Prefers well-drained, slightly acid soil and full sun/partial shade. ‘Compactum’ is one of the best dwarf clones with very dark green leaves and resistance to leaf spot. V. x carlecephalum blooms in early May, size 10' x 10'. V. x juddii hardy to Zone 4, also to 10'.|
5-6' x equal spread
|Native, dense, rounded shrub. Bronze foliage changes to orange-red or purple in fall. Creamy white flowers. Fruit changes from green to pink, then red to blue, then black in September. Use in borders or for naturalizing.|
8-10' x equal spread
|Similar to other viburnums in site preference. White flat-topped flower clusters in May, showy red fruit in fall. pH tolerant.|
8-12' x similar spread
|Early to flower, flower buds may be damaged by late frost. White, fragrant blooms in mid-April.|
15-18' (possibly to 30') x variable spread
|Suckers easily to form thicket. Adaptable to a range of conditions. Tolerates sun to shade. Very durable. A good native shrub or small tree for naturalizing.|
|Doublefile Viburnum var. tomentosum|
8-10' x 9-12'
|Prefers moist, well-drained soils and shade, not particularly drought tolerant. Lovely bloom along branches in May. Preferred cultivars include ‘Mariesii’ and ‘Shasta’.|
12-15' x 8-12'
|Adaptable to various soil conditions, drought tolerant once established, sun/part shade. A good native shrub or small tree for naturalizing.|
12-15' x equal spread
|Adaptable to various soil conditions, pH tolerant, full sun/shade; a number of USDA introductions to choose from: ‘Onondaga’, ‘Susquehanna’. Attractive red fruit last into winter.|
15-20' x 10-15'
|Adaptable to various soil conditions but prefers moist, well-drained soil; pH adaptable, sun/part shade, not particularly drought tolerant. ‘Seneca’ has persistent red fruit.|
|American Cranberrybush Viburnum|
8-12' x equal width
|Adaptable to various soil conditions, easy to grow, full sun/part shade. Native.|
2-3' x spreading
|Groundcover prefers moist, well-drained soils, tolerates heavy soils, sun/shade, tolerates dry conditions.|