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25 Common and Native Trees in Kansas

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Kansas » 25 Common and Native Trees in Kansas

People may not always picture trees when they think of Kansas, but especially in the eastern half of the state, many grow naturally or are planted there.

Even in the western half of the state, there is still a surprising diversity of trees found naturally in scattered locations or planted in towns and yards for their shade, beauty, or usefulness.

No matter which Kansas growing zone you look at, there is a large diversity of trees that are also mostly native, even those planted commercially.

Let’s look at some of those common and native trees in Kansas.

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25 Common and Native Trees That Grow in Kansas

1. White Oak – Quercus alba – Native Tree

White Oak Quercus alba - Grid 2 Square - 800 x 450
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

White Oak is a Kansas native oak tree that grows naturally in the eastern ⅕ of the state where they like to grow in full sun in moist, loamy, well-drained, acidic soils in mesic to dry upland woods and rocky hillsides as well as well-drained loams in bottomlands.

However, White Oak is also widely planted in KS as a popular landscape tree for its large crown of lobed leaves that make perfect shade. Those pretty green leaves turn a deep crimson red in the fall for a spectacular fall color display.

Like most oak trees, these long-lived trees (500 – 600 years) grow fairly slowly. They develop a broad crown that spreads as wide as they are tall, and they also develop wide flaring trunks that sometimes damage sidewalks or foundations when planted too close.

For more information, learn how to identify the White Oak in its native environment.

  • Other Common Names: American White Oak, Northern White Oak, Eastern White Oak, Forked-Leaf White Oak, Quebec Oak
  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 80 ft tall, 50 – 80 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers appear between April and May; acorns mature in late summer to early fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Bur Oak – Quercus macrocarpa – Native Tree

Bur Oak Quercus macrocarpa - Grid 2 Square - 800 x 450
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Bur Oak is the most widespread oak in Kansas, native to the eastern ⅔ of the state. It grows in open woods, sandy ridges, and riparian areas.

They typically grow in full sun in acidic to alkaline, loamy, sandy, well-drained, wet, and clay soils. Bur Oak has some drought tolerance and is sometimes seen on sandy roadsides without other trees or obvious water sources.

These long-lived trees have the same broadly spreading crowns and large, deeply lobed leaves that the mighty oak is famous for. They also have contorted branches that provide winter interest.

But what I love most about Bur Oaks are their big, beautiful acorns with attractive bur-like cupules that give them their common name. They are much sweeter than most acorns and are sometimes eaten raw or roasted, boiled, or dried and ground into flour.

You can also learn how to identify the Bur Oak.

  • Other Common Names: Burr Oak, Mossycup Oak, Prairie Oak, Savanna Oak, Overcup Oak, Blue Oak
  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 80 ft tall, 60 – 80 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers bloom in April or May; acorns mature in October

Available at: Nature Hills

3. Black Walnut – Juglans nigra – Native Tree

Black Walnut Juglans nigra
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Black Walnut is one of many nut trees that are native to Kansas, found naturally throughout the state, but populations are much more scattered in the western ¼.

These trees prefer rich, fertile woods and hillsides with deep, well-drained, loamy soils and seldom grow in bottomlands since they do not tolerate poorly drained soils.

Black Walnuts are intolerant of shade and require good airflow to stay healthy, which may be why they secrete biochemicals that cause most other plants to die when growing around them.

People often plant Black Walnuts in their home nut orchards or ornamentally as a big, beautiful shade tree for its dense canopy of compound leaves.

Be careful with their green-hulled rounded fruits that contain the nut since those green hulls often cause contact dermatitis. When they are fully ripe, the hulls turn black and are less likely to cause dermatitis.

  • Other Common Names: American Walnut, American Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 70 – 100 ft (to 125 ft) tall, 60 – 80 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers emerge in drooping catkins from May to June; fruits mature from September to October

Available at: Nature Hills

4. Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana – Native Tree

Chokecherry Prunus virginiana
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Chokecherry is a native cherry tree found naturally throughout all of Kansas, but it’s most widespread in the northern half of the state.

It often forms shrubby thickets but can sometimes be found as individual small trees. They prefer full sun in open woods, forest edges, riparian areas, rocky slopes, prairies, and occasionally as an understory tree.

They tolerate any moist, well-drained soil from mildly acidic to mildly alkaline but are also highly drought-tolerant.

They have enormous wildlife values where their thickets are used for cover by birds and small animals, and countless wildlife come to feast on their small edible fruits. They are also host to tent caterpillars and numerous other insects.

These trees are also often grown ornamentally for their abundant showy, small, white flowers and their great drought tolerance and low maintenance.

You can also learn how to identify Chokecherry in its native habitat.

  • Other Common Names: Bitter Cherry, Virginia Bird Cherry, Western Chokecherry, Eastern Chokecherry, Black Chokecherry
  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 7
  • Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: White flowers bloom in May; small edible fruits mature in August

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Black Willow – Salix nigra – Native Tree

Black WIllow Salix nigra
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Black Willow is a widespread native willow tree in Kansas’s eastern ½ and southwestern ¼, growing mostly in full sun in riparian areas, ditches, and bottomlands for its moisture-loving roots.

These small to large fast-growing trees have lovely green, narrow willow-like leaves, bright yellow catkins in spring, and interesting bark that often becomes deeply V-grooved as it matures.

Black Willows are beautiful trees but are only occasionally grown ornamentally because they grow very fast and have weak wood, and their aggressive moisture-seeking roots have been known to destroy sewage pipes.

However, they are now being used extensively as riparian buffers around wetlands that are overrun with algae to help use up excess nutrients from fertilizer runoff and clean the wetlands.

For more information, check out how to identify Black Willow.

Weeping Willow is a common non-native willow that you may also see planted in towns and residential areas throughout KS.

  • Other Common Names: Southwestern Black Willow, Swamp Willow, Black Gulf Willow
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 60 ft (to 80 ft) tall, 30 – 60 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Small flowers emerge in catkins before the leaves, usually March to April; capsular fruits ripen from April to July

Available at: Nature Hills

6. American Sycamore – Platanus occidentalis – Native Tree

American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

American Sycamore is a gorgeous large tree with a broad crown of maple-like leaves and the most fascinating bluish or greenish-gray bark mottled with brown and gray from exfoliating in irregular scales, making it very easy to identify and adding winter interest to the landscape.

These are another eastern North American species also native to the eastern ⅓ of Kansas, where it likes to grow in moist woods in bottomlands, wetlands, and riparian areas, often right up to the water’s edge.

American Sycamore prefers rich, moist, deep soils that are neutral to moderately alkaline but will tolerate other moist soil types. They do have some drought tolerance, provided the droughts do not last too long.

They are highly tolerant of urban conditions, and you will often see them planted as street or shade trees in parks or residential areas for their lovely leaves, incredibly fast growth, and unique bark.

  • Other Common Names: American Planetree, Eastern Sycamore, Buttonwood, Buttonball, Western Plane, Occidental Plane, Water Beech
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 100 ft tall, 40 – 70 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Spherical flower heads bloom from April to May; spherical dry fruits mature in September or October

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

7. Osage Orange – Maclura pomifera – Introduced Tree

Osage Orange Maclura pomifera
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Osage Orange is a tough tree found throughout all of Kansas but more concentrated in the east, with more scattered populations in the drier west.

These trees grow in almost any soil in full sun and are quite drought-tolerant, explaining why they grow well in the west, where fewer trees grow naturally. Osage Orange also tolerate heat, cold, wind, ice storms, and poor soil.

People often believe Osage Orange is native to Kansas because they are so widespread.

However, they are native just south and west of Kansas but were widely planted in the 1800s and onwards as hedge trees for wind barriers for farmer’s fields and during the Great Plains’ dustbowl era to help prevent soil erosion. Some of those trees can still be seen today.

These medium-sized trees are easily recognized by the apple-sized round, lumpy green fruits seen on female trees that look much like green brains.

  • Other Common Names: Hedge Apple, Mock Orange, Horse Apple, Crab Apple, Monkey Ball, Monkey Brains, Yellow-Wood
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 40 ft tall, 20 – 40 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Simple green flowers in spherical heads bloom just after leaf emergence from April to June; large pome fruits mature on female trees from September to October

Available at: Nature Hills

8. River Birch – Betula nigra – Native Tree

River Birch Betula nigra
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

River Birch is an uncommon native tree in Kansas, found naturally only in the extreme southwest corner, where it likes to grow along rivers, swamps, and floodplains, giving it its common name.

However, they are also widely planted as landscape trees in parks and residential yards for their fast growth and their unique salmon-pink to reddish-brown exfoliating bark that peels in large strips in multiple layers to reveal lighter layers below.

River Birch are also planted as shade trees for their rich canopy of dark green leaves that turn a pleasant shade of soft, buttery yellow in the fall.

These trees can grow in full sun or partial shade in any moist soil except for alkaline soil. Though it prefers moist to wet soils, it has some drought tolerance and is one of very few heat-tolerant birch trees.

You can also learn how to identify River Birch.

  • Other Common Names: Black Birch, Red Birch, Water Birch, Silky Birch
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 80 ft tall, 40 – 60 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers in catkins bloom in early spring; tiny samaras (winged seeds) mature early in the year in late spring

Available at: Nature Hills

9. Eastern Cottonwood – Populus deltoides – Native Tree

Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Eastern Cottonwood is a type of poplar tree that is also native to Kansas and found everywhere in the state.

It is one of the most commonly seen trees in the state’s western half, often appearing as a single tree like that in the photo above from the southwestern corner of KS.

This is one of the fastest-growing trees native to North America, easily growing 4 – 8 ft per year or more.

This results in large but relatively short-lived trees (usually 70 – 100 years) prone to damage from those Kansas wind storms. The winds rarely kill the trees, but broken branches are often seen, especially in the windy west.

Eastern Cottonwoods are also often planted in residential areas as fast-growing shade trees for their dense canopy of rich green leaves that turn yellow and orange in the fall.

For more information, check out how to identify Eastern Cottonwood.

  • Other Common Names: Necklace Poplar, Alamo, Carolina Poplar, Common Cottonwood, Eastern Poplar, Plains Cottonwood, Plains Poplar, Southern Poplar, Rio Grande Cottonwood
  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 65 – 100 ft (to 120 ft) tall, 35 – 60 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers emerge in catkins from February to April; cottony seeds mature from April to June

Available at: Nature Hills

10. American Elm – Ulmus americana – Native Tree

American Elm Ulmus americana
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The American Elm was once a widespread native tree in eastern North America and is native to most of Kansas.

It was also one of the most commonly planted street or park trees for its gorgeous spreading crown of rich, bright green leaves and fast growth (3 – 6 feet per year when young).

These trees thrive in full sun in any moist, well-drained soil, including alkaline and clay. They are highly tolerant of drought, heat, strong winds, road salts, and air pollution, adding to their desirability as landscape trees.

Unfortunately, Dutch Elm Disease devastated this beautiful tree, resulting in their native populations being Endangered. However, they are still found in the wild in KS.

New cultivars have been developed for disease resistance, helping this lovely tree make a comeback.

For more information, you can learn how to identify the American Elm in its natural habitat.

  • Other Common Names: White Elm, Water Elm, Soft Elm, Common Elm
  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 90 ft (to 130 ft) tall, 40 – 70 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Small flowers emerge before the leaves in March or April; samaras (winged seeds) mature in mid to late summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

11. Siberian Elm – Ulmus pumila – Introduced Tree

Siberian Elm Ulmus pumila
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

The Siberian Elm is a medium-sized Asian elm tree that has been widely cultivated worldwide as a street, garden, and landscaping tree for its fast growth and tolerance of poor quality, dry and compacted soils, and extreme drought.

Their seeds have a very high germination rate, and as a result, this highly invasive tree is now present in every county in Kansas.

It has also been introduced to almost every US state, Canadian province, and much of Mexico. It is frequently seen growing on dry roadsides, even in areas where other trees do not grow.

Their fast growth translates into brittle wood that breaks frequently, ironically making it a very poor choice as a landscape tree in windy climates.

You can also learn how to identify the Siberian Elm. If you find small trees growing, removing them before they reach reproductive size (about ten years of age) is advisable.

  • Other Common Names: Asiatic Elm, Chinese Elm, Littleleaf Elm, Dwarf Elm
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 70 ft tall, 35 – 50 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous red flowers emerge before the leaves from March to May; samaras (winged seeds) mature later in summer

12. Netleaf Hackberry – Celtis reticulata – Native Tree

Netleaf Hackberry Celtis reticulata
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Netleaf Hackberry is a common native Kansas tree but unusual for KS because it is native to the western half rather than the eastern half. They grow in dry prairies, hillsides, bluffs, and valley bottoms.

These trees thrive in full sun to partial shade in moderately moist soil but are highly tolerant of poor, dry, rocky, acidic, alkaline, and saline soils, as well as drought, wind, cold, and short-term flooding.

They will either grow as shrubs or small trees, depending on the environmental conditions and available water.

Netleaf Hackberry is sometimes grown ornamentally as a xeriscape tree in drought-prone areas or for their edible berry-like fruits that are sometimes made into jellies or dried and used to flavor savory dishes.

The berry-like fruits are also an important food source for wildlife. Insects also feed on the leaves, and birds and small animals use the trees for cover.

  • Other Common Names: Western Hackberry, Douglas Hackberry, Netleaf Sugar Hackberry, Texas Sugarberry, and in Spanish, Acibuche, Palo Blanco; it is sometimes called by its synonym Celtis laevigata var reticulata.
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 30 ft tall, 10 – 25 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers bloom from March to April; fruits mature in late summer and persist into winter

13. Sugarberry – Celtis laevigata – Native Tree

Sugarberry Celtis laevigata
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Similar to the Netleaf Hackberry, the closely related Sugarberry is also native to Kansas and also found mostly in the western half of the state but also in the southeast corner.

This tree, however, is not quite as hardy as its cousin, preferring moist to wet, fertile soils along riparian areas and not tolerating highly alkaline or dry soils.

Sugarberry is common in yards and pastures where deer graze since they love the leaves, twigs, and fruits and commonly spread their seeds around.

These trees are also sometimes grown ornamentally or for their fruits, which are fleshier and sweeter than the Netleaf Hackberry.

You can tell the two apart because Netleaf Hackberry is much smaller, with leaves with more prominent veins and soft, white, wooly hairs, while Sugarberry is a medium-sized tree with narrower leaves and smooth margins.

  • Other Common Names: Sugar Hackberry, Texas Sugarberry, Southern Hackberry, Lowland Hackberry, Hackberry, Palo Blanco
  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 10
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 70 ft (to 80 ft) tall, 50 – 60 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers emerge with leaves from March to May; edible berry-like fruits (drupes) mature from September to October and persist into winter

Available at: Nature Hills

14. American Basswood – Tilia americana – Native Tree

American Basswood Tilia americana
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

American Basswood is a lovely linden tree native to the eastern ¼ of Kansas, where they grow naturally in full sun or partial shade in deciduous or mixed mesic woodlands in well-drained sandy loam soils.

These trees are often planted for their fast growth, big, beautiful leaves that cast rich shade, and their fragrant, yellow, nectar-rich flowers that are loved by bees and other pollinators who flock to them when they are in bloom.

However, that fast growth, along with their naturally soft wood loved by wood carvers, can make them susceptible to windthrow.

American Basswoods are also not very tolerant of urban pollution, so they are only planted in rural and suburban areas, with the non-native and more urban-tolerant Little-Leaf Linden being planted more often in cities.

For more information, check out how to identify the American Basswood in its natural habitat.

  • Other Common Names: American Linden, American Lime
  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 70 ft (to 110 ft) tall, 35 – 45 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Fragrant yellow flowers appear from May to July; rounded drupes (fruits) ripen in late summer

Available at: Nature Hills

15. Sugar Maple – Acer saccharum – Native Tree

Sugar Maple Acer saccharum
Images via Fast Growing Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Sugar Maple is a native Kansas maple tree found naturally only along the eastern border, but it is often planted in Kansas, particularly in the east, as a garden, park, or landscape tree.

While they are moderately drought-tolerant, the hot summers and long extended droughts make them much less common in the state’s western half.

Sugar Maples are quite tolerant of any soil type except for permanently wet soils and pure sand. They grow in full sun or full shade and can be found in open woods or dense forests.

They are popular landscape trees for their lovely five-lobed leaves that turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and orange-red in the fall, with multiple colors on the tree simultaneously.

Sugar Maples are not overly tolerant of urban pollution or road salts, so they are more popular in rural and suburban areas.

You can also learn how to identify Sugar Maple.

  • Other Common Names: Sugar Tree, Rock Maple, Sweet Maple, Curly Maple, Bird’s Eye Maple
  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 7
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 115 ft (to 150 ft) tall, 40 – 50 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers bloom just before leaf emergence from March to May; samaras (winged seeds) mature from June to October

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

16. Northern Catalpa – Catalpa speciosa – Native Tree

Northern Catalpa Catalpa speciosa
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Northern Catalpa is a native tree found in the eastern ⅔ of Kansas but also often planted as an ornamental flowering tree or a lovely shade tree in both rural residential and urban environments.

These big, beautiful trees have gorgeous trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring, followed by long, thin seed pods that mature in fall and hang from the trees all winter.

Northern Catalpa grows naturally in full sun or partial shade in moist bottomlands, riparian areas, forest edges, meadows, shrublands, and upland forests.

They prefer moist, fertile loams but are highly adaptable to wet, dry, sand, clay, alkaline, and acidic soils and are tolerant of heat and drought, provided the droughts do not last too long.

The wood is brittle, and the trees often suffer broken branches from wind and ice damage in KS, though it seldom kills the tree.

  • Other Common Names: Hardy Catalpa, Western Catalpa, Cigar Tree, Catawba-Tree, Bois Chavanon
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 60 ft (to 90 ft) tall, 30 – 50 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers bloom from late spring to early summer; long, slender seed pods mature in fall and remain all winter

Available at: Nature Hills

17. Green Ash – Fraxinus pennsylvanica – Native Tree

Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Green Ash is a widespread native ash tree found throughout most of Kansas where it grows in moist or wet soils in full sun in mesic forests, riparian areas, bottomlands, and open fields.

These trees can tolerate various soil conditions, urban pollution, and road salts and are popular ornamental street, shade, or accent trees.

Unfortunately, this lovely tree has been severely impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer and has recently been confirmed present in 13 counties in KS.

So even though populations in KS are still mostly doing well, dying and damaged trees will be a common site in the years to come.

Due to the EAB infestation, this tree is Critically Endangered. However, a small percentage of Green Ash has survived the infestation, and scientists are now working with those trees to try to save the species.

For more information, you can learn how to identify Green Ash.

  • Other Common Names: American Ash, Canadian Ash, Red Ash, Water Ash, Swamp Ash
  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 70 ft tall, 35 – 45 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Small purple apetalous flowers emerge from April to May on separate male and female trees; samaras (winged seeds) mature later that summer

18. American Persimmon – Diospyros virginiana – Native Tree

American Persimmons Diospyros virginiana
Images via Fast Growing Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

American Persimmons is a native fruit tree found naturally in the eastern half of Kansas, but mostly in the eastern ¼ where they like to grow in rocky or dry open woods, prairies, thickets, fields, and roadsides in almost any type of soil, including dry and infertile.

They are medium to large-sized trees with big dark green leaves that provide great shade and distinctive thick gray bark with vertical and horizontal grooves that form blocky rectangular plates.

American Persimmons are often grown ornamentally for their shade, fruits, and wildlife values. Birds and animals feast on the fruits and use the trees for habitat and cover.

When green or even ripe, the fruits are quite bitter. If left on the tree to become over-ripe, they turn bright orange and look like Christmas ornaments hanging from the tree. By late fall or early winter, they become sweet and tasty, similar to custard.

  • Other Common Names: Common Persimmon, Date Plum, Eastern Persimmon, Jove’s Fruit, Persimmon, Possum Apples, Possumwood, Simmon, Winter Plum
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 80 ft tall, 20 – 35 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Small fragrant flowers bloom on separate male and female trees from May to June; large edible orange berries ripen from September to December

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

19. Downy Serviceberry – Amelanchier arborea – Native Tree

Downy Serviceberry Shadblow Amelanchier arborea
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Downy Serviceberry is yet another beautiful eastern North American tree native to the eastern ⅕ of Kansas, where it likes to grow in moist forest edges and riparian areas but is also found on dry hillsides, rocky woodlands, and mountain slopes.

These trees prefer locations with full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained, acidic soil. However, they tolerate various soil conditions, including loamy, sandy, rocky, moderately alkaline, and occasionally dry or wet soils.

Downy Serviceberry is also often grown ornamentally outside its native range for its prolific, fragrant white flowers and small, edible reddish-purple berries that ripen in late summer and can be eaten fresh or made into jams or pies or left for the wildlife to feast on.

Downy Serviceberry usually grows naturally as a multi-stemmed shrub from root suckers, but sometimes it will grow into a small tree. Commercial cultivars are typically small trees.

  • Other Common Names: Alabama Serviceberry, Juneberry, Shadbush, Service-tree, Sarvis-tree, Shadblow, Shadbush, also in Latin, the synonym Amelanchier canadensis.
  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 25 ft (to 40 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: White flowers emerge from March to April; edible reddish-purple berries mature from July to August

Available at: Nature Hills

20. Eastern White Pine – Pinus strobus – Introduced Tree

Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

While not native to Kansas, the Eastern White Pine is a widespread native pine tree in eastern North America and found just east of Kansas in Missouri.

However, these trees are often grown as ornamental or shade trees in Kansas, particularly in eastern KS, where they require less irrigation.

They are also grown on tree farms for the Christmas tree industry. They are popular commercial landscaping trees because they tolerate pruning well and can even be trained to grow as a hedge.

Eastern White Pine has a lovely conical crown, gray-brown bark that is deeply grooved and forms long, irregular scaly plates, and gorgeous blue-green pliable needle-like leaves with a broad white stomatal band on one surface, giving it its common name.

For more information, check out how to identify Eastern White Pine.

  • Other Common Names: White Pine, Northern White Pine, Soft Pine, Weymouth Pine
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 100 ft (to 230 ft) tall, 20 – 40 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released in May and June; seed cones mature on the same trees the following summer (two-year cycle)

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

21. Eastern Red Cedar – Juniperus virginiana – Native Tree

Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Eastern Red Cedar is actually a juniper tree, but its wood smells like a true cedar, hence the common name.

These trees typically have a single trunk with reddish-brown fibrous bark and green scale-like leaves that, other than the fleshy berry-like seed cones, also resemble the false cedars Northern White Cedar or Western Red Cedar that are native to North America.

Eastern Red Cedar is native to all of Kansas, mostly the eastern half, with scattered populations in the west.

These trees can be found in thin woodlands, rocky bluffs, savannas, fields, riparian areas, and even swamps. They prefer moist, well-drained, acidic to moderately alkaline soil but will tolerate wet or dry or almost any condition except for full shade.

Eastern Red Cedar’s native range has been expanding throughout our grasslands due to fire suppression.

You can also learn how to identify Eastern Red Cedar.

  • Other Common Names: Aromatic Cedar, Red Cedar, Virginian Juniper, Eastern Juniper, Red Juniper, Pencil Cedar, Carolina Cedar, Red Savin, Baton Rouge
  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 40 ft (to 65 ft) tall, 10 – 20 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is released from male trees from November to March; berry-like seed cones mature on female trees in September or October

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

22. Paper Mulberry – Broussonetia papyrifera – Introduced Tree

Paper Mulberry Broussonetia papyrifera
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

The Paper Mulberry is not native to Kansas but was widely planted as a shade or ornamental tree for its large white flowers and papery fruits loved by wildlife.

Ironically, it was also planted along KS highways because it tolerates road salts, and its roots were believed to prevent soil erosion. However, these trees are shallow-rooted and quite susceptible to windthrow, which can cause soil erosion.

Paper Mulberry likes to grow in full sun in moist soils near riparian areas but tolerates dry, poor soils and partial shade and is moderately drought tolerant.

These trees are classified as invasive in many parts of the world, where they spread both by seed and vegetatively, often forming thickets that exclude native vegetation.

Fortunately, it is no longer widely planted, but it has already escaped cultivation in eastern Kansas and throughout eastern North America.

  • Other Common Names: Tapa Cloth Tree, Pulp Mulberry
  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 50 ft tall, 30 – 40 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Greenish flowers in catkins (male) or spherical heads (female) bloom in April or May; edible reddish aggregate fruits mature in summer

23. Honey Locust – Gleditsia triacanthos – Native Tree

Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Honey Locust is a very common tree in Kansas, native throughout the entire state where it is typically found growing in moist soils in bottomlands, riparian areas, open woodlands, or on limestone soils.

These hardy trees tolerate cold, heat, drought, urban conditions, poor soils, compacted soils, floods, and salinity. They are often planted in cities or rural areas as windbreaks or for erosion control.

Honey Locusts are beautiful medium-sized trees with graceful compound leaves that turn a pleasing shade of yellow or yellow-orange in the fall, plus large brown, twisted legume seed pods and unique and often multi-branched reddish-gray or reddish-black thorns that sometimes cover most of the trunk.

Cultivated forms grown in cities often lack the gorgeous but intimidating thorns that the wild native trees have.

The common name comes from the edible seeds that taste very sweet when they are roasted.

  • Other Common Names: Thorny Locust, Thorny Honeylocust, Common Honeylocust, Honeyshuck, Sweet Bean Tree, Sweet Locust, McConnel’s Curse
  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 80 ft (to 120 ft) tall, 60 – 80 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Yellow flowers bloom from mid-May to June; long, flat, twisted legume seed pods mature late summer and persist into winter

24. Eastern Redbud – Cercis canadensis – Native Tree

Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Eastern Redbud is a gorgeous flowering tree native to the eastern half of Kansas, where it grows as a small understorey tree on forest edges or in full sun in moist, well-drained soil.

These trees will also tolerate partial shade and most soil types, provided they are well-drained since they do not tolerate soggy roots.

Eastern Redbuds are easy to recognize by their profuse rose-pink pea-like flower blossoms that cover the bare branches in early spring before the leaves or pretty much anything else emerges after winter dormancy.

In the summer, they have gorgeous green heart-shaped leaves, and by fall, they develop purplish-green legume pods that hang from the trees into winter.

Eastern Redbud is widely planted in city streets, parks, and residential areas for its showy flowers and compact size.

You can also learn how to identify the Eastern Redbud in its natural habitat.

  • Other Common Names: American Redbud, Redbud
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 35 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers bloom before the leaves emerge between March and April; legumes mature from late summer to early fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

25. Shagbark Hickory – Carya ovata – Native Tree

Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata
Images by Peter Dziuk, CC BY-SA 4.0, and via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Shagbark Hickory is one of many native nut trees in Kansas, found in the eastern ⅓ of the state, where it likes to grow in moist, rich soils in upland woodlands and dry floodplains, preferring humid climates and well-drained soils.

These trees are also often grown ornamentally in KS for their attractive and unique shaggy bark and the rich shade their dense canopy of compound leaves provide. They are also sometimes grown for their occasional crops of big, delicious, thick-shelled nuts.

For more information, check out how to identify Shagbark Hickory.

Two other hickory trees common in eastern KS include the Shellbark Hickory, which is found in the southeastern corner but seldom grown ornamentally, and the wild Pecan Tree, which is native to the extreme southeastern corner.

Pecan cultivars are also frequently grown in eastern KS in both commercial and home nut orchards.

  • Other Common Names: Carolina Hickory, Scalybark Hickory, Upland Hickory, Shellbark Hickory
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 70 – 90 ft (to 150 ft) tall, 50 – 70 ft spread
  • Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers emerge in catkins in mid-spring; nuts mature in September and October

Available at: Nature Hills

Common Introduced and Native Trees Found in Kansas

Kansas is not only the open prairies you often see on TV. They actually have a lot of interesting native and introduced trees found throughout the state.

The highest tree diversity and density is in the eastern half of KS, with its more humid climate and more readily available water sources. However, even in the western half, the diversity that actually grows there, if you know where to look, may surprise you.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about some of the lovely trees you may find throughout KS. Happy tree-hunting on your travels!

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Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

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