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25 Most Common Types of Trees in Tennessee (Including Native)


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Shade, wildlife habitat, and aesthetic value are just a few of the many ways trees contribute to our quality of life. Numerous tree species, both native and non-native, have successfully made their homes in Tennessee thanks to the state’s temperate climate and fertile soil.

This article looks at the twenty five most common tree types that thrive in the Tennessee. This including information on their appearance, landscape tips, growth habits, and culture requirements. 

Some top picks include the eye-catching flowering dogwood and the fast-growing tulip poplar.

25 Most Common and Reliable Trees to Plant in Tennessee

1. American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) – Native Tree

American Beech
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

American beech is a majestic tree with a broad canopy. But it also offers beautiful bronze fall foliage. You can use this tree for either shade or ornamental use. A plus of growing American beech is its tasty, firm brown beechnuts.

American beech grows best under full sun exposure and is tolerant of various well-drained soils.

Due to its susceptibility to drought, the American beech must be watered frequently. It needs a lot of space to grow into maturity, so choose a spot wisely.

Common Names: American Beech, North American Beech

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 50 – 120 feet tall and 40 – 60 feet wide

2. Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) – Native Tree

Black Cherry Tree
Image by cultivar413 via Flickr

The Black cherry tree is native to eastern North America, Mexico, and Central America. It is a medium-sized fast growing tree.

Black cherry is an excellent addition to the landscape for its fragrant white blossoms. Also, its narrow-columnar to rounded form makes it a good choice for tight spots.

This tree features long, narrow leaves with delicate teeth along the edges. They are glossy and dark green and transition from yellow to red in the fall.

Black cherry thrives in full sun to partial shade. It can also survive in drier conditions. The tree prefers medium, well-drained soils and requires little care.

The tree’s bark, roots, and leaves have toxic cyanogenic substances. Thus, it’s best to grow it where children and pets cannot access the tree.

Common Names: Wild Black Cherry, Black Cherry, Wild Cherry, Rum cherry, Mountain Black Cherry

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 40 – 70 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

3. Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) – Native Tree

Black Gum Tree
Image by James St. John via Flickr

As an ornamental tree, black gum stands out due to its spectacular fall foliage, unusual bark, and eye-catching blooms. The aesthetics of the tree makes it an intriguing focal point.

Black gum tree has simple, alternating leaves. They are glossy and dark green in the summer. The tree’s brilliant fall foliage can be purple, bright red, scarlet, yellow, or orange. Black gum bears tiny, violet-black fruit in late September or early October.

Black gum flowers attract bees in the spring; they get nectar from the tree in the spring. Its ability to draw in pollinators can do wonders for the rest of your garden or landscaping.

Although they thrive in full sun, black gum trees may survive in partial light. An acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well-drained soil is ideal.

Common Names: Weeping Blackgum

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 30 – 50 feet tall and 20 – 30 feet wide

4. Black Oak (Quercus velutina) – Native Tree

Black Oak Tree
Image by F.D Richards via Flickr

The massive black oak has a broad, rounded crown. Black oak is easily recognizable by its dark, almost black bark with deep furrows, a hallmark of mature trunks. Black oak’s leaves are tough and glossy, like leather, with a deep, forest green color.

Black oak trees need full sun and soils that are average in acidity, dry to medium in moisture, and well-drained. They thrive in rich, organic, and well-drained soils but will survive in less ideal conditions. Black oak is tricky to transplant due to its deep taproot.

Black oak is an excellent option if you want a modest shade tree. It’s a tough and long-lasting tree because of its strong roots.

Common Names: Eastern black oak

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 50 – 60 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

5. Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana) – Native Tree

Chestnut Oak Tree
Image by Nicholas_T. via Flickr

Chestnut oak is a beautiful yet low-maintenance tree. It has greenish-yellow leaves that change to orange-yellow and yellowish-brown in the fall. These oak trees can spruce up any outdoor space with a vibrant splash of color.

One of the most striking features of a chestnut oak tree is its peeling bark. The dark brown to a black color and craggy ridges give it an attractive yet rugged look. Since it can reach great heights and spread wide, this tree is well suited for landscaping large areas. It thrives in full sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soils.

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 60 – 70 feet tall and 50 – 75 feet wide

6. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) – Native Tree

Pacific Dogwood - Flower Tree Lyrae Willis
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Flowering dogwood is a small deciduous tree, well-known for its early and abundant spring flowering. It has clusters of small white, pink or red flowers surrounded by large bracts resembling petals. These bracts, which come in a rainbow of colors from white to pink to red, can create a spectacular sight in your garden.

Flowering dogwood is a popular garden ornamental tree. Its small size makes it a common sight in suburban gardens.

Flowering dogwood can grow in either full sun or moderate shade but needs at least four hours of direct sunshine daily. It requires acidic, well-drained soils and can withstand dry conditions.

Common Names: Dogwood, Eastern Dogwood, False Boxwood, Dogwood, Indian Arrowwood, White cornel

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 20 – 50 feet tall and 20 – 30 feet wide

7. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) – Native Tree

Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Native to Tennessee, the eastern hemlock is a massive evergreen tree. Common uses for this tree include screens, mass planting, and foundational landscaping. Eastern hemlock is a popular landscape choice due to its broad, pyramidal appearance and soft, feathery, deep green needles.

The Eastern Hemlock grows well in a wide range of soil types, from acidic to loamy to moist to sandy to well-drained. The tree requires at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, but it can also thrive in partial or full shade, giving you more options for placement in your garden.

There is little you need to do to care for this tree, but it will not survive in areas with a lot of wind, drought, or compacted soil. Prolonged dry spells and hot, humid summers could harm the foliage. To keep this tree healthy, you should water it frequently and mulch heavily in the winter.

Common Names: Canadian Hemlock, Eastern Hemlock

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 3 – 5 feet tall and 4 – 6 feet wide

8. Gray Birch (Betula populifolia) – Non-Native Tree

Gray Birch Tree
Image by Nicholas_T via Flickr

Gray birch is an impressive deciduous tree in appearance with a fast growth rate. One of the most remarkable features of this birch tree is its beautiful peeling bark. Gray birch trees have dark green leaves that are oval and narrow at the tip.

Gray birch’s resistance to heat and humidity and bronze birch borers and leaf miners make it a popular landscaping species. These trees need full sun to part shade and thrive on medium to wet, well-drained soils.

On the other hand, gray birch has a relatively short lifespan and needs a lot of care to remain healthy and productive.

Common Names: Grey Birch

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 2 – 7

Average size at Maturity: 20 – 40 feet tall and 20 – 30 feet wide

9. Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) – Native Tree

Green Ash Tree
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

Green Ash is a famous shade tree due to its rapid growth, lovely shade, and adaptability to many soil types.

The compound leaves of this tree are usually a medium to dark green, but they turn a bright yellow in the fall. It blooms in April and produces non-ornamental flowers ranging from green to reddish purple. Green Ash is an excellent shade tree because of its broad, spreading canopy, which effectively filters the sun.

Green ash is tolerant of many conditions and thrives in direct sunlight. It also does well in many soil conditions, from acidic to alkaline and from loamy to sandy to clayey to moist. The tree is most successful in moist soil but can tolerate brief periods of drought.

Common Names: Downy Ash, Swamp Ash, Water Ash, Red Ash

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 50 – 60 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

10. Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) – Native Tree

Branches on a Honeylocust tree
Image by Radu Chibzii via Flickr

Honeylocust is a fast-growing shade tree known for its delicate, open silhouette, allowing grass to grow underneath.

The deciduous honeylocust produces fragrant flowers and sends out attractive compound leaves in the spring. Its fall foliage coloration of yellow or yellow-green adds to its aesthetic value.

Because of the canopy it casts, the honeylocust is ideal for use in public areas like parks and gardens. The tree does best in full sun but will thrive in acidic, alkaline, damp, dry, or salty soils.

Common Names: Weeping Honeylocust, Thornless Honeylocust

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 30 – 70 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring

11. Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) – Native Tree

Kentucky Coffee Tree
 Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

Kentucky Coffeetrees are massive trees admired for their rugged beauty and adaptability. It works wonderfully as a street tree or ornamental in extensive gardens.

In late May or early June, the Kentucky coffeetree blossoms with pyramidal clusters of greenish-white blooms. Female trees produce fragrant flowers reminiscent of roses.

Kentucky coffeetree prefers full sun and is adaptable to many soil types, including acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained, wet, and clay soils.

Moreover, it can survive mild drought in wet soil. As a result, Kentucky coffeetree can prevent erosion and maintain slope stability. Such is excellent news for those living in eastern Tennessee’s hilly and mountainous countries.

Common Names: Dead Tree, Stump Tree, Chicot

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 60 – 75 tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

12. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) – Native Tree

Loblolly Pine Trees
Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr

Loblolly Pine is a fast-growing evergreen tree used as a quick screen in many landscapes due to its straight trunk and dark green needles. This pine tree is native to the southeastern United States, including some southern zones in Tennessee.

The needles of a Loblolly Pine are long and narrow and have a dark yellowish-green color. It produces dry oval and brown cones.

Loblolly Pine can grow in various soils, from acidic to loamy to moist, sandy to well-drained to clay. It thrives in full sun and can withstand mild drought, but it can also grow in consistently moist soil.

Common Names: Rosemary pine, Old field pine, Bull pine, Indian pine, and Longstraw pine

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 6 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 60-90 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

13. Red maple (Acer rubrum) – Native Tree

Red Maple, Canadian Maple (Acer rubrum)
Image by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

Red Maple is an adaptable and rapid-growing tree used in various settings. The fresh leaves of this tree have a reddish tint in the spring, but by summer, they turn a deep green. The leaves turn deep orange, yellow, maroon, or red in the fall.

Red Maple can survive in a wide variety of moist but well-drained soils. The tree requires little care and is simple to cultivate.

This tree grows very tall and wide, which makes it a great shade or street tree. Please remember that dried, wilted Red Maple leaves are poisonous to horses and should never be fed to them.

Common Names: Scarlet Maple, Maple

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 40 – 60 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

14. Red Oak (Quercus rubra) – Native Tree

Red Oak Tree
Image by Sludge G via Flickr

Like many trees on this list, red oak is also fast-growing and attractive. Landscapers and homeowners who need a fast-growing shade tree love it since it can grow much more than two feet per year for the first ten years. In the fall, leaves turn to a reddish-brown or yellow color.

Full sun and acidic, loamy, well-drained soil are ideal conditions for the red oak’s growth. It requires little care because it thrives in arid environments.

Common Names: Eastern Red Oak, Mountain Red Oak, Gray Oak, Oak

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 60 – 75 feet tall and 50 – 75 feet wide

15. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) – Native Tree

Eastern Redbud tree in bloom
Image by James M via Flickr

Eastern redbud is another stunning flowering tree you can plant for many uses. It is known for its lovely blooms of rosy pink and purple flowers appearing in April.

The heart-shaped leaves of the eastern redbud emerge a rosy color in the spring, turn dark green in the summer, and finally turn yellow in the fall. The tree’s attractive foliage is a significant selling point for its ornamental use.

Eastern redbud is adaptable to various soil conditions, making it simple to plant. It thrives in acidic, alkaline, loamy, wet, rich, sandy, well-drained, and clay soils. It does best in either full sun or light shade.

Common Names: Eastern Redbud, Canadian Redbud, American Redbud, American Judas Tree

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 20 – 30 feet tall and 25 – 35 feet wide

Flowering season: Spring

16. Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) – Native Tree

Scarlet Oak Tree
Image by James St. John via Flickr

Its rapid growth and adaptability have made scarlet oak a favorite of Tennessee gardeners and landscapers. This tree’s glossy, deep green leaves transform into a blazing scarlet in the fall, making it an excellent ornamental option.

The tree prefers full sun and is adaptable to most soil types except for alkaline soils. It thrives in normal moisture conditions but may survive short periods of drought. Additionally, it requires little care and rarely experiences issues with pests or diseases.

With its open, rounded crown, the Scarlet Oak is a good option for yards and gardens with the light shade it provides.

Common Names: Red Oak, Oak

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 60 – 80 feet tall and 50 – 75 feet wide

17. Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) – Native Tree

serviceberry
Image by Nicholas_T via Flickr

Serviceberry is a beautiful flowering tree that you can use in many different ways. It has clusters of tiny white flowers that bloom in March and April. Glossy, dark green leaves follow the flowers. They turn bright shades of red and gold in the fall, making it one of the best small trees for fall color.

The Serviceberry can be a focal point or a background for other plants and flowers. The tree’s small size makes it an excellent choice for smaller yards.

Serviceberry does best in acidic, moist, and well-drained soils with full sun or partial shade. You can also grow it as a small tree or a bush. But it is known to send up root suckers, which, if not taken care of, can make it grow into a bushy plant.

Common Names: Allegheny Serviceberry, Serviceberry, Allegheny Shadberry, Allegheny Service-Berry

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 15 – 25 feet tall and 20 – 30 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring

18. Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) – Native Tree

Sourwood
Image by Mrs. Gemstone via Flickr

Sourwood is known for its unique qualities, such as its sweet-smelling white flowers, colorful leaves in the fall, and tasty honey. In fall, the leaves turn to a vibrant and eye-catching red color.

The blooms of the sourwood are one of the things that stand out the most. From June to early July, the tree has fragrant white flowers on stalks that hang down. The dark green leaves of the Sourwood are also attractive. They have simple, elliptical, or oblong shapes.

Sourwood does best in full sun and can grow in different soil types. You can plant it in a spot that gets some shade, but it will flower less or have less color in the fall. This tree doesn’t need much care. But it doesn’t do well in dry conditions, so you must water it often to keep it healthy.

Common Names: Sorrel tree, Sorrel gum, Sour gum, Arrow wood, Elk tree, Lily-of-the-valley tree, and Titi tree

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 25 – 30 feet tall and 20 – 30 feet wide

19. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) – Native Tree

sugar maple
Image by James St. John via Flickr

Sugar Maple is an appealing tree that can improve the look and quality of any garden. It has dark green foliage, which can turn a bright yellow in the fall.

Sugar Maple’s foliage is dense, making it the perfect shade. They bloom in April and May, and their tiny greenish-yellow blooms are held in clusters at the end of long, slender stems.

Avoid planting sugar maple in places with a high salt concentration or soil lacking enough drainage and nutrients. As long as they get at least four hours of direct, unfiltered sunshine daily, they can thrive in either full sun or partial shade. This particular type of maple tree has moderate drought tolerance.

Common Names: Black Maple, Cut-Leaf Sugar Maple, Maple

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 60 – 75 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

20. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) – Native Tree

Sweetgum tree
Image by Frederick County Forestry via Flickr

Sweetgum is a famous deciduous tree with deep, glossy green star-shaped leaves. The leaves turn yellow, purple, and crimson and can stay on the tree until the end of the season.

The sweetgum tree is ideal for bringing color and shade to any landscape. It will stand out in any garden with its beautiful star-shaped leaves and brilliant fall color.

The sweetgum prefers full sun and well-drained, moderately moist, fertile soil. It is a low-maintenance tree ideal for shade, but it should not be planted in limited spaces or locations with high pollution levels.

Common Names: Fruitless Sweetgum, Sweet Gum, Seedless Sweet Gum, Liquid Amber

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 40 – 70 feet tall and 50 – 75 feet wide

21. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) – Native Tree

Tulip Poplar
Image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr

Tulip Poplar is a beautiful tree that grows quickly and has bright green leaves that look like tulip flowers. In the fall, the leaves turn golden yellow.

Tulip Poplar works in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, and clay soils. It also does well in full sun, but they may need help if there is a draughted help.

Tulip Poplar can grow well in a wide range of conditions, which makes it an excellent choice for any landscape.

Common Names: Tulip Tree, Whitewood, Fiddle Tree, Canoewood

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 40 – 80 feet tall and 50 to 75 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring

22. White Ash (Fraxinus americana) – Native Tree

white ash tree
Image by Virens via Flickr

White ash is a beautiful tree whose leaves change to yellow, deep purple, or maroon in the fall. These colors make it a popular ornamental plant in landscaping.

White ash features compound leaves with dark green leaflets and makes long samaras look like canoe paddles. When it is young, the tree is oval or pyramidal, but as it gets older, it gets more round.

White ash does best in full sun and can grow in various soils, including acidic, alkaline, loamy, sandy, well-drained, or wet.

Common Names: Rosehill, White Ash

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 50 – 80 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

23. White Oak (Quercus alba) – Native Tree

White Oak Tree
Image by James St. John via Flickr

White oaks are large trees with short, thick trunks and massive horizontal branches. It has an upright, rounded crown of widely-spread branches, which makes it a perfect choice for providing shade in large outdoor spaces.

White oak is well known for its spectacular foliage. In the summer, the leaves are deep green or even a bluish green, but in the fall, they transform into a spectacular display of brown, wine red, and orange.

Full sun and deep, well-drained soil are ideal growing conditions for the white oak. However, it can withstand mild drought.

Common Names: Stave Oak, Ridge White Oak, Forked-leaf White Oak, Charter Oak, Oak

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 60 – 80 feet tall and 50 – 75 feet wide

24. Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) – Native Tree

Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) Tree and Leaves
Images by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

The willow oak is a magnificent tree often used in landscaping because of its fast growth rate, willow-like leaves, and tolerance to poorly drained soil.

The leaves of the willow oak are beautiful and change from light to bright green in the summer to spectacular hues of golden bronze-orange, yellow-brown, and russet red in the fall. The leaves are pointed at the end and have a short bristle.

Although it thrives in full sunlight, young willow oak trees can survive in dappled light. It does better than most oaks in acidic soils and can survive poorly-drained ones.

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 5 – 9

Average size at Maturity: 40 – 60 feet tall and 40 – 50 feet wide

25. Yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea) – Native Tree

Yellowwood
Image by karen_hine via Flickr

Yellowwood is an average-sized Tennessee native tree with a rounded crown and grayish bark. It is famous for the big, fragrant white flowers that appear in the spring and mature into flat seed pods in the early summer.

This tree has feathery-veined leaves that are wedge-shaped at the base. Mature ones have a dark green exterior and a lighter interior; they change to a vivid, clear yellow in the fall.

Yellowwood can thrive in various soil conditions, from sandy to loamy to clay. But it needs full sun and well-drained soil to thrive and cannot grow in the shade. This tree is an excellent choice to attract bees and butterflies in your garden or landscaping.

Common Names: Sweetleaf, Kentucky Yellowwood, American yellowwood, Virgilia

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 – 8

Average size at Maturity: 20 – 60 feet tall and 20 – 40 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring

The Many Trees of Tennessee

Various tree species thrive in Tennessee. In this article, we have list and describe 25 of them that you can plant in your landscape to beautify it, attract pollinators, and provide shade.

There is a wide variety of oaks and maples that grow well in the state, including the gorgeous red maple and study black oak, many of which are native trees.

It helps to check your Tennessee USDA hardiness zone when choosing a tree because the western part of the state has much milder winters than the mountainous east.

The trees on this list have varying maintenance requirements, but with proper attention to their planting requirements and good care, any resident of Tennessee can plant any of the listed trees to spruce up their landscape and take it to the next level.

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