Native Shade Trees - NJ

Question:  I want to plant a tree in my Princeton yard. I hear native (not imported) trees perform the best. What are the names of some native trees that grow well in our New Jersey climate?

Answer: Take this list with you to the tree nursery.

Native Shade Trees That are Deciduous (shed leaves annually):

  • Acer negundo (box elder)
  • Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
  • Acer rubrum (red maple)
  • Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
  • Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
  • Amelanchier canadensis (shadblow serviceberry, Juneberry)
  • Betula lenta (cherry birch)
  • Betula nigra (river birch)
  • Carpinus caroliniana (blue beech, hornbeam, musclewood)
  • Carya alba (mockernut hickory)
  • Carya cordiformis (bitternut, swamp hickory)
  • Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
  • Celtis occidentalis (hackberry, sugarberry)
  • Chamaecyparis thyoides (white cedar)
  • Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
  • Crataegus crus-galli (cockspur hawthorn)
  • Diospyros virginiana (persimmon)
  • Fagus grandifolia var. caroliniana (beech)
  • Fagus grandifolia var. grandifolia (beech)
  • Fraxinus americana (white ash)
  • Fraxinus pensylvanica (green ash)
  • Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
  • Juglans nigra (black walnut)
  • Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum)
  • Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
  • Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay, swampbay)
  • Nyssa sylvatica (black gum, tupelo)
  • Ostrya virginiana (ironwood, hophornbeam)
  • Platanus occidentalis (sycamore, plane-tree)
  • Populus grandidentata (large-toothed aspen)
  • Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
  • Prunus americana (wild plum)
  • Prunus pensylvanica (fire or pin cherry)
  • Prunus serotina (black cherry)
  • Quercus alba (white oak)
  • Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
  • Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
  • Quercus falcata (southern red oak, Spanish oak)
  • Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak)
  • Quercus palustris (pin oak)
  • Quercus phellos (willow oak)
  • Quercus rubra (red oak)
  • Quercus stellata (post oak)
  • Quercus velutina (black oak)
  • Salix nigra (black willow)
  • Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
  • Tilia americana (American linden, basswood)
  • Ulmus americana (American elm)
  • Ulmus rubra (red elm, slippery elm)

Native Evergreen Trees:

  • Ilex opaca (American holly, Christmas holly)
  • Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar)
  • Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine)
  • Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
  • Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)
  • Pinus virginiana (Virginia pine)


Undesirable Characteristics of Some Native Shade Trees

  • All hickories            large nuts, nuisance for lawn care
  • black walnut            large nuts, loses leaves early, no fall color, lawn nuisance
  • butternut                 large nuts, no fall color
  • American chestnut  short-lived because of chestnut blight
  • Osage orange        very large seed balls, bushy
  • silver maple            susceptible to various insects and diseases, very weak branches
  • pitch pine               poor form
  • sassafras               usually has poor form, weak branches
  • All Aspen               short-lived, soft wood
  • black willow            root problems in sewers, not attractive
  • All cherries            poor form, attracts tent caterpillars in spring
  • paulownia              short-lived, messy, soft wood, no fall color
  • elms                      susceptible to Dutch elm disease
  • black locust           thorny, messy, poor form, weak branches
  • red mulberry          messy fruit
  • boxelder                messy, attracts boxelder beetles
  • virginia pine           poor form, short-lived
  • pin oak                  dead branches on lower crown are maintenance problem
  • scarlet oak             same as pin oak though not as bad
  • gray birch               not long-lived
  • honey locust           thorny, large seed pods
  • tree of Heaven        not long-lived, soft wood, easily damaged, messy, no coloration