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18 Common Trees Native to Maine (Includes Evergreen Species)

Maine has an excellent variety of native trees, many of which help to beautify its landscape as well as nourish and protect local wildlife.

These trees go far in protecting the state’s native ecosystems, but many have also become mainstays for gardeners and landscapes who use them as specimen trees, shade trees, hedging, windbreakers, and more.

Here are some common native trees of Maine that are favored by gardeners both inside and outside of the state, including evergreen and flowering species.

These trees are all cold hardy and bode well in the state’s short, temperate summers, and longer, more unpredictable winters, but it still pays to check your Maine growing zone as some trees are more limited by climate, and will struggle to grow in the coldest parts of northern Maine.

18 Impressive Native Specimens Growing in Maine

1. Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum)

striped maple
Image by Doug McGrady via Flickr

Unlike the stereotype of soaring maple trees, the striped maple is one of the smallest maple varieties found in MA and could even be considered a shrub due to its comparatively short height. It is mainly found along the eastern coastline of Maine.

Most maples found in MA will have multiple small trunks and narrow branches and are identifiable by the white stripes on their bark and their unusual “goose-foot” shaped leaves. From a practical perspective, the striped maple is best grown as a shade tree.

In order for it to grow to its maximum height, striped maples should be planted in partial shade rather than full sun, and in moist, well-draining oil. These trees are excellent at attracting local wildlife, in particular deer, moose, rabbits, and squirrels.

Other Common Names: Moosewood, Moose Maple, Snakebark Maple, Goosefoot Maple

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 15-35 feet tall, with approx. 20-foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring – Early Summer

2. Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

mountain ash
Image by tuchodi via Flickr

Found throughout northeastern America, the mountain ash is an important tree in the MA ecosystem, like many native trees in the state. It is used as a form of shelter and its leaves and berries provide sustenance for local wildlife.

These trees are relatively tall with slender trunks, and their dark green leaves, white flower clusters, and orange-red berries provide significant spring, summer, and fall appeal. The mountain ash is tolerant to varying soil conditions but prefers moist, acidic, well-draining soil and can thrive in both full sun and partial shade.

The mountain ash is susceptible to pests and diseases, so take note of insects and possible diseases wherever you choose to grow your mountain ash.

Other Common Names: Victorian Ash

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 feet tall, with a 8-20 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring

Fruiting Season: Late Spring – Early Summer

3. American Basswood (Tilia americana)

American Basswood
Image by Dan Keck via Flickr

In forests throughout Maine you are likely to find the imposing basswood. With its dense foliage, heart-shaped leaves, and fragrant white spring flowers, it is an excellent choice as both a shade tree and a specimen tree.

It’s not uncommon to see rows of basswood planted along urban streets and parks for their shade and visual appeal. As a softwood tree, it is also used to make furniture, baskets, paper, and more. Honey and tea can even be produced from their flowers.

Basswood prefers full sun, which will benefit their blossom production, and prefer moist, well-draining, soil. It can typically tolerate both slightly acidic and slightly alkaline soil, though this will depend on the variety. Additional fertilizer is typically unnecessary, and pruning and shaping should be done while the basswood is still young.

Other Common Names: Linden, Lime Tree

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 60-100 feet tall, with a 30-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring

4. Bigtooth Aspen (Populus Grandidentata)

bigtooth aspen
Image by Mike Nielsen via Flickr (not exact likeness)

These trees have narrow crowns, and so are best grown in clusters if you want to use them as shade trees. Otherwise, they make a simple ornamental plant, particularly due to their fall appeal when their foliage turns yellow and orange.

These aspens prefer moist, fertile, sandy/loamy soil, and must be planted in full sun as shade will stunt their growth. If you experience high rainfall or forest fires in your area, the bigtooth aspen is not the right choice as it is vulnerable to both flooding and fires.

It also needs plenty of space and should not be planted nearby other structures due to its spreading root system.

Before planting you should know that the bigtooth has a comparatively short lifespan, living approximately 40-80 years.

Other Common Names: Big-tooth Poplar

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 feet tall, with a 20 to 40 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

5. Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus Alternifolia)

pagoda dogwood
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

A native specimen found from New Brunswick to Minnesota, the pagoda dogwood is a flowering shrub with symmetrically horizontal, tiered branches and makes an excellent specimen plant, particularly from late spring through to fall. This is due to its fragrant yellowish flowers, blue-black fruits, and reddish-purple fall foliage.

These dogwoods will also attract local wildlife, including pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds, as well as small mammals who flock to eat its summer fruits.

As an understory tree, pagoda dogwood prefers dappled shade that provides some sun during the day as well as shade in the heat of the afternoons (particularly in summer).

It should be grown in moist, loamy, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Mulch and fertilizer are recommended for moisture retention, and pruning is usually unnecessary for this species.

Other Common Names: Green Osier, Alternate-leaved Dogwood, Alternate-leaf Dogwood

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 feet tall, with a 20-35 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring

Fruiting Season: Mid to Late Summer

6. American Hornbeam (Ostrya Virginiana)

american hornbeam
Image by Katja Schultz via Flickr

Though native to MA, the American hophornbeam is mainly found in the southern third of the state. These trees are small, slow-growing, and while attractive they are relatively modest compared to more ornamental natives, though it’s pale-green monoecious catkins provide some spring appeal.

American hophornbeams are extremely low maintenance, even going so far as to thrive on neglect. Due to being an understory tree they are used to full or partial shade, but can also grow in full sun and are tolerant to drought, heat, and varying soil types, as they are often found growing in rocky and dry conditions.

They do prefer fertile, moist, well-draining soil with a pH varying from acidic to neutral.

Hophornbeams do not need to be fertilized, and pruning is only necessary to remove dead and diseased branches. According to the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture, the hophornbeam is also pest-resistant, though it can be susceptible to chestnut borer.

Other Common Names: American Hornbeam, Musclewood, Ironwood, Blue Beech, Water Beech

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with a 20-35 foot spread

Flowering Season: Mid-Spring

Fruiting Season: Mid-Fall

7. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

eastern white pine
Image by Nicholas_T via Flickr (not exact likeness)

Not only is the eastern white pine a beloved native of Maine, but it’s even the official state tree! One of the oldest trees in the United States and the largest native on the east coast, the eastern white is a stately, beautiful tree that can be found throughout the state, particularly in heavily-wooded areas

It is a relatively fast-growing tree that lives for approximately 200 years and provides necessary shelter for many forest-dwelling species. The eastern white pine is also a great source of lumber and has been an important contributor to the state economy for centuries.

These trees like full sunlight, but will benefit from partial shade in warmer climates. For best results plant in moist, acidic, well-draining soil. They will not tolerate hot climates, clay soil, or urban pollution. Dead or broken branches should be pruned whenever they appear.

Other Common Names: Soft Pine, White Pine, Northern White Pine, Weymouth Pine

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 feet tall, with a 20-40 foot spread

Flowering Season: Late Spring – Early Summer

8. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

red maple
Image by Dushan Hanuska via Flickr

While it is native to the whole of the eastern half of the United States, the stunning red maple tree is endemic to Maine and can be found in abundance throughout the state’s forests.

Its wood is used for commercial lumber, and according to the University of Maine Extension, red maples can also produce maple sap for syrup production, though it has an exceedingly short syrup season due to early flowering.

The red maple is an exceptional ornamental species due to its striking fall appeal, but its deep red foliage and flowers also provide plenty of appeal throughout the year. Its desirable red foliage and low maintenance needs make it a perfect option for any MA landscape.

These trees prefer full sun and loamy, well-draining, acidic soil. Red maples are susceptible to storm damage, cracking bark, and overcrowded branches, all of which can be helped by light pruning.

Other Common Names: Swamp Maple, Water Maple, Soft Maple

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 feet tall, with a 30-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

9. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

sugar maple
Image by Colin Durfee via Flickr

Native to the eastern states of the US, sugar maples have historically been a significant contributor to Maine’s maple syrup industry. Though they were once a common native, sadly the growth rate of these beautiful maples is in steady decline. Aside from maple syrup and sugar, its wood is also commonly used to manufacture furniture and flooring.

Outside of their industrial qualities, sugar maples are also attractive trees with particular fall appeal due to their rich orange-red foliage, and make both an excellent option of ornamental and shade tree for most MA landscapes.

These trees can grow in both full and partial sun, as long as they receive four hours of direct sunlight per day. They prefer deep, moist, well-draining soil that can be anywhere from acidic to mildly alkaline. These trees will need heavy watering, at least twice a week until their root system has developed.

Other Common Names: Rock Maple, Hard Maple

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 40–80 feet tall, with a 30–60 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

10. Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

balsam fir
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Another native tree with considerable economic significance in MA is the balsam fir, which has long been used for home construction, paper-making, resin, funeral wreaths, and holiday decorations, particularly around Christmas time.

The slow-growing balsam is a dense, conical tree that makes an appealing landscaping choice for MA gardeners and landowners due to its tidy, symmetrical shape, deep blue-green needles, and noticeable spiced aroma. These trees grow at a rate of one foot per year and produce long cones that stand straight up from their branches.

These trees can thrive in both full and partial sun and should be grown in moist, acidic, well-draining soil. Mulch is recommended for moisture retention, and a conservative amount of fertilizer in spring can accelerate growth. Balsam firs are particularly susceptible to spruce budworm and wind damage.

Other Common Names: Canada Balsam

Growing Zones: 3-5

Average Size at Maturity: 50-75 feet tall, with a 20-35 foot spread

Fruiting Season: EarlyFall

11. Speckled Alder (Alnus Incana)

speckled alder
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The native speckled alder is commonly occurring throughout Maine, and according to the Maine Government Handbook, they are largely found in wet areas such as swamps and pastures. More often than not it will grow as a shrub, and on rare occasions, a small tree.

They are immensely helpful to local wildlife, providing cover and food for various birds, small mammals, and larger animals, as well as being used by beavers to build dams.

These shrubs and trees will grow in a wide variety of soil types but are best grown in wet sites. Speckled alder can thrive in full sun and partial shade, and prefers moist, well-draining soil. They are very easy to grow, and as long as they are planted in ideal conditions can typically be left to their own devices.

If you want your alders to look more like trees than shrubs, light pruning of the weaker stems during early growth (leaving the strongest as the eventual trunk) should help.

Other Common Names: Gray Alder, Hoary Alder, Tag Alder

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

12. Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)

atlantic white cedar
Image by Katja Schultz via Flickr

Though most commonly found in the southern states, the Atlantic white cedar is native as far north as Maine and is mainly found in the southern parts of the state and the mid-coast, particularly in wet areas such as ponds or bogs.

Its wood is light and brittle, so it is not very valuable commercially, though it was used by early settlers for shipbuilding, fencing, and cabin-building. Today it is mainly used in landscaping as an ornamental plant due to its attractive blue-green foliage and symmetrical, spire-like branch formations.

The Atlantic white cedar should be grown in peaty, rich, moist-to-wet soil with an acidic pH. Consider growing these cedars in the dampest area of your garden or property to mimic their native growing conditions. It should be grown in full sunlight, though it can be grown in partial shade.

Other Common Names: Swamp Cedar, Boat Cedar, and Southern White Cedar

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 feet tall, with a 6-15 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

13. American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

american chestnut
Image by Under The Same Moon via Flickr

The American chestnut once numbered in the billions, all the way from Alabama to Maine. Unfortunately, due to the introduction of chestnut blight in the early 19th century, the numbers of these enormous and fast-growing chestnuts have been significantly reduced.

Thankfully, in Maine, there are various orchards and seed orchards established to help maintain their numbers and produce blight-resistant trees, according to the US Department of Agriculture. So if you choose to grow the beloved native trees of Maine, you’ll be doing your local ecosystems a favor.

Unfortunately, this can also mean that the American chestnut is difficult to grow successfully. The best possible chance of growing a blight-resistant American chestnut is by growing an American-Chinese chestnut hybrid.

Pure American chestnuts should be planted in early spring, in moist and very well-draining soil with at least six hours of full sunlight per day. If you want your tree to yield chestnuts, be sure to plant at least two with around 40 feet of space between each other and any other trees/plants.

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 feet tall, with a 30-40 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall

14. American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

american sycamore
Image by PatersonGreatFalls via Flickr

The American sycamore can be found across the eastern and central United States, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. These gorgeous, imperial trees can live as long as 600 years and historically grow largely in streams and bottom lands in the south of Maine. They are popular in residential areas, and their timber is often used in furniture making and for musical instruments.

These trees are tolerant of partial shade but grow best in full sun. They are not fussy about soil types or pH levels, but they do prefer moist, loamy, well-draining soil. Though the American sycamore can tolerate urban pollution, it also needs considerable space due to its enormous size, so it is not always the best option for urban landscapes.

Other Common Names: American Planetree, Buttonwood, Water Beech, Western Planetree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 75-100 feet tall, with a similar spread

Flowering Season: April and May

15. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

eastern hemlock
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The sprawling eastern hemlock tree is one of the most common evergreen trees that can be found throughout Maine, in varying environments. These refined conifers are excellent shade trees with an exceptionally long life span, able to live for more than 800 years. They are most recognizable for their pyramidal shape and widely spaced branches.

Eastern hemlocks should be planted in early spring, in moist, loamy, well-draining soil, with an acidic pH. In terms of sunlight, these unusual trees actually prefer partial shade, though they can tolerate full sunlight, however, shade will encourage best results. Pruning is largely unnecessary, but any pruning you may want to do should be done in spring and summer only, to avoid the trees returning to active growth in winter.

Other Common Names: Canadian Hemlock, Hemlock Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 60-70 feet, with a 25-35 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Fruiting Season: Fall

16. Tamarack (Larix laricina)

tamarack
Image by Superior National Forest via Flickr

Known in northern Maine as juniper (not to be confused with the actual juniper tree), these spindly conifers can be seen scattered throughout MA but are mostly found in cool, swampy environments. Historically the tamarack has been used in shipbuilding, home construction, planking, and more.

It is a prized ornamental species due to its year-round interest, with blue-green needles in spring and summer, vibrant yellow foliage in fall, and textured bark in winter. An easy way to identify the tamarack is in late fall, as it is the only native conifer in MA to shed all of its leaves before winter.

For best results, the tamarack should be planted in moist, fertile, acidic soil in full sun. These trees have no shade tolerance or drought tolerance and should be lightly mulched to encourage moisture retention.

Other Common Names: Hackmatack, Eastern Larch, Juniper, Alaska Larch

Growing Zones: 2-5

Average Size at Maturity: 40-80 feet tall, with a 15-30 foot spread

Flowering Season: Fall

17. Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

shagbark hickory
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The shagbark hickory is a slow-growing native that can be found in most of the eastern United States, as far south as Tennessee and far north as Missouri.

They are best known for their loose, peeling, silver-white bark (hence the name “shagbark”) and edible nuts that were once a staple of Native American cooking. The tough wood of the shagbark hickory was once a popular timber for the wheels and spokes of wagons, and later automobiles, as well as furniture and flooring.

These hardy hickories are relatively easy to grow and are best planted in moist, rich, well-draining soil with an acidic pH and full sunlight. If you are considering adding the shagbark hickory to your landscape, keep in mind that they are comparatively slow-growing: most trees will grow between 6-12” every year.

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 feet tall, with a 50-70 foot spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Fruiting Season: Fall

18. Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)

yellow birch
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The stunning but slow-growing yellow birch is a native staple in MA, due to its fall appeal and significant value as a cultural, economic, and environmental resource.

Originally used by the Wakanabi people to build canoes, baskets, shoes, and more, today it is also used as a source of pulpwood, plywood, and firewood. They are also a source of food for various pollinators including birds and butterflies.

As an ornamental tree, the yellow birch is most prized for its stunning, golden yellow fall foliage which contrasts nicely with its smooth, chalky white bark.

When it comes to planting yellow birch trees, prioritize rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH, in a location with full shade. Light fertilizer and pruning after the growing season is recommended, and be sure to choose a spot with plenty of space, as their canopies will grow quite wide.

Other Common Names: Golden Birch

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 60-75 feet tall, with a 40-50 foot spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

Native Trees That Thrive In The Maine Landscape

No matter what kind of native tree you consider growing in MA, one of the above species should fit your criteria.

Natives like the speckled alder, american hophornbeam and shagbark hickory are particularly low maintenance and easy to grow, whereas trees like the sugar maple, red maple, pagoda dogwood and bigtooth aspen will supply particular beauty to your fall landscape.

Whichever you choose, the benefits of growing natives on your property are immense. Whether they attract and sustain local wildlife, help to bolster endangered native tree populations or simply thrive quickly and easily in whatever Maine landscape you grow them in, you can’t go wrong with one of the stunning native trees of Maine.

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