16 Common Types of Trees in West Virginia (Grow or Admire)

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Written By Kenique Ivery

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Home » West Virginia » 16 Common Types of Trees in West Virginia (Grow or Admire)

West Virginia, or “The Mountain State,” as the nickname suggests, is filled with mountains and hills. 

The state’s climate is generally the humid continental type. This means summers are hot, except at high elevations, and winters are cool to cold.

Besides the eastern panhandle, the state has a fair bit of rainfall, an average of 60 inches per year. The Allegheny Mountains create a rain shadow, which causes the eastern panhandle to get much less rainfall. 

West Virginia’s USDA growing zones range from 5a to 7a, with most of the state in 6b and 7a. Thanks to this climate, almost all trees from temperate areas can grow in West Virginia.  

The following list includes common trees in West Virginia. Some like cucumber tree, and crepe myrtle make great ornamental flowering trees. In comparison, black walnut and tulip tree are fantastic shade trees. 

16 Trees in West Virginia Worth Your Attention

1. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Bald Cypress
Image by GPA Photo Archive via Flickr

The mighty Bald cypress hails from the swamps of the southern United States. There it out-competes other trees for resources. But, the right conditions make an attractive specimen tree in the landscape.

Bald cypress is a deciduous conifer. Like pine trees, spruces, and cedars, it produces cones and needles. The delicate short needles are yellow-green in spring and then turn soft green in summer. By fall, the needles change to a beautiful reddish or orangish brown.

The Bald cypress is a great shade tree, as its spreading canopy can block a significant amount of sunlight. The tree grows at a medium rate, roughly a foot to two feet each year.

These Cypress trees do best in full sun and it adapts to acidic, moist, sandy, clay, and well-drained soils. As a native to the swamps, it does well in areas with significant rainfall and wet soils.

Other Common Names: Swamp cypress

Growing Zones:  4 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 70 feet tall with a spread of 25 feet

2. Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)

Black Tupelo
Image by Katie Schulz via Flickr

Native to West Virginia, black tupelo’s defining feature is its stunning fall color. Each fall, the foliage transforms into shades of yellow, orange, bright red, purple, or scarlet red. But the glossy green foliage is also attractive in spring and summer. 

Its alligator hide-looking bark is also attractive, especially during the winter. Mature trees produce greenish-white flowers in the spring. These flowers are not very noticeable and turn into bluish-black fruit that ripens early in the fall. The fruit is a hit among birds and small mammals. 

Black Tupelo is a great mid-sized shade tree. However, it grows a bit slow, about a foot each year. 

This tree does well in full sun or partial shade. It adapts to many soil types but prefers acidic, moist, rich, and well-drained soils. 

Other Common Names: Tupelo, Black gum, sour gum

Growing Zones:  4 – 9

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

Flowering Season: Spring

3. Black Locust (Robina pseudoacacia)

Black Locust
Image by Andrew Weitzel via Flickr

A pea family member, in spring, black locust, displays a gorgeous display of hanging pea-like blooms. The highly fragrant white flowers appear on 4- to 8-inch-long clusters of white flowers, which are abundant.

As they are legumes, they produce pods with a few seeds after blooming. The pods are dark brown to almost black and about 2 to 4 inches long.

To perform at their best black locust trees need plenty of space and sunlight. They are great trees to plant in wide-open fields and large yards.

Though not picky about soil, black locust trees will do best in organically rich soils. To accomplish this, you must enrich the soil with compost throughout the growing season.

Growing Zones:  4 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 80 feet tall with a spread of 20 – 30 feet

Flowering Season: Spring

4. Black Oak (Quercus velutina)

Black Oak
Image by David Prasad via Flickr

Black Oak is a large and robust tree with lots of uses. It makes an excellent windbreak, it is suitable for timber, and its acorns are a valuable staple for birds and mammals.

Like other members of the red oak group, you can identify black oak by the spiny, pointed lobes on its leaves. The leaves unfold in the spring with a deep red tone and then turn silvery within a few days.

The tree has an open crown and a tall, straight trunk. The trunk has a thick, black bark which I deeply divided into broad, rounded ridges. Though sometimes slow-growing, it can grow two to three feet each year on a fertile site with plenty of moisture.

This tree is an excellent choice if you are worried about diseases or insect infestations. It is hearty and disease resistant.

Growing Zones:  3 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 60 feet in height with a similar spread

5. Black Walnut (Julgans nigra)

Black Walnut
Image by Virginia State Parks via Flickr

Like black oak, black walnut is another tough yet useful tree. It makes a great shade tree, produces valuable nuts, and its timber is great for woodworking.

This massive tree can grow up to 150 feet tall in forests and tree plantations. But in the landscape, it will get to about 75 feet, though not a fast grower. Expect the tree to grow 13 to 24 inches per year.

Black walnut produces nuts at 12 – 15 years old. The nuts have and oily and sweet taste. Trees are partially self-fertile, so if having a good harvest of walnuts matters to you – it is better to plant multiple trees. Though, few yards will have enough space for this. Black walnut requires plenty of sunlight and a lot of space to spread.

This tree is adaptable to acidic, alkaline, clay, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, and well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Eastern American black walnut

Growing Zones:  4 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 75 feet tall with an equal spread

6. Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstoemia indica)

Crepe Myrtle
Image by Surley Shirly via Flickr

Crepe myrtles, an Asian import, are extremely popular in the United States because of their showy summer flowers. Attractive bark and brilliant fall color. This small to a medium-sized tree grows on multiple stems. 

Crepe myrtle flowers are crinkled like crepe paper and grow in dense and large clusters. You can find them in shades of pink, red, purple, or white. These flowers transform into seed pods which the Smithsonian notes as a tasty food source for many native birds. 

The tree features dark green leaves, about 1 to 2 ½ inches long and narrower than wide. The new leaves appear tinted red in the spring. The leaves will turn brilliant orange or bright red following a long cold fall. 

In West Virginia, especially in zone 6, the tree may be frozen to the ground if the winter is severe. However, some varieties are cold-hardy (Varieties Suitable for West Virginia). 

Other Common Names: Crape myrtle, Crêpe myrtle

Growing Zones:  5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 25 feet with a spread of 6 – 15 feet

Flowering Season: Summer

Varieties Suitable for West Virginia: Acoma, Centennial Spirit, Hopi

7. Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata)

Cucumber Tree
Image by James St. John via Flickr

Cucumber tree is the hardiest and largest of the magnolias. It is native to West Virginia and much of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cucumber tree grows at a medium to fast rate, up to two feet per year. Growing in a pyramidal shape, it makes a great shade or ornamental tree.

This tree gets its name from the pinkish-red fruit, which resembles a cucumber produced after flowering. The fragrant flowers from May to early June are greenish-yellow and blend in easily with the leaves.

The tree’s leaves are large (4 – 10 inches long) and oblong-shaped. They have a lush yellow-green tone and sometimes turn bronze in the fall.

Full sun is best for cucumber trees. Also, it tolerates acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, or wet soils.

Other Common Names: Cucumbertree, Cucumber magnolia, Blue magnolia

Growing Zones:  4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 80 feet tall with a spread of 40 feet

Flowering Season: Late Spring

8. Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Downy Serviceberry
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

In the landscape, it provides tremendous ornamental value, especially with its beautiful white spring flowers. Blooming earlier than most trees, the flowers appear in drooping clusters before the leaves emerge. In fall, the leaves turn to a lovely orange-red.

These delicate spring flowers give way to small, edible, round berries, which mature into a dark purplish-black in early summer. These tiny fruits are a cherished source for birds and mammals.

Downy serviceberry is an understory in the forest, meaning it grows under large trees.

To mimic these conditions, consider planting downy serviceberry in a spot where they get morning sun and late afternoon shade. Also, the tree prefers acidic, moist, and well-drained soil.

Other Common Names: Common serviceberry

Growing Zones:  15 – 25 feet with a similar spread

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 feet tall with a similar spread

Flowering Season: Early Spring

9. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Image by Hélène Baudart via Flickr

Ginkgo is widely known for being a great natural supplement in traditional Chinese medicine. But another significant usage of this tree is in the landscape, common throughout the world.

Ginkgo is a slow grower but can live up to 3,000 years!

Ginkgo is an undeniably beautiful deciduous tree. It features unique fan-shaped bright green leaves which turn to brilliant yellow or gold in the fall.

In the landscape, you can fit a Ginkgo tree anywhere in small, confined spaces or next to a street. It is highly tolerant of pollution, heat, and soil salt.

Ginkgo trees strive in a wide range of soil types. They can even tolerate drought and wetness. Full sun or partial shade works well for these trees – at least four hours of direct unfiltered sunlight.

Other Common Names: Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree

Growing Zones:  3 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 25 – 50 feet with a spread of 25 – 35 feet

10. Horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse Chestnut
Image by Heather via Flickr

Horse Chestnut is a large, broad flowering deciduous tree. Due to its wide canopy and oval to rounded shape, this tree also makes an excellent shade tree.

The white flowers with speckled pink and yellow spots come out in 5-inch to 1-foot-long oblong clusters. On their own, the assembly of flowers is breathtaking.

The bark starts to exfoliate as horse chestnut ages, revealing a beautiful orange bark underneath. This feature allows the tree to stand out in the winter landscape.

Horse chestnut adapts to a wide variety of West Virginia soil types. Especially in areas with rich and moist soils. You can pick a spot with full or partial sun exposure, but you must give this broad tree room to spread.

Other Common Names: European horsechestnut, Buckeye, Conker tree, Spanish chestnut

Growing Zones:  4 – 7

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

Flowering Season: Mid-Spring

11. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple
Image by Kyle Pearce via Flickr

This species of maple tree is one of the most common in West Virginia and eastern North America. Red maple brings color to the landscape year-round. Its flowers, twigs, and seeds have a red tinge but are better known for their remarkable scarlet-red fall foliage. Also, new leaves start red before turning green.

The fast-growing red maple needs plenty of room to grow. Though not fussy about soil type, it will do best in wet soil conditions. Also, give the tree full sun, about six hours of direct exposure daily.

Red maples produce a winged fruit, known as a samara, which squirrels and other rodents love.

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

Growing Zones:  3 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 60 feet tall with a spread of 40 feet

Flowering Season: Spring

12. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tulip Poplar
Image by Buddha Dog via Flickr

Native to the forests of West Virginia, tulip poplar is a fast-growing tree featuring large and brilliant tulip-shaped green leaves. The leaves turn to an attractive golden yellow in the fall. In late spring, the tree sends out tulip-shaped flowers with greenish-yellow petals.

The tree grows in an oval shape, making it a lovely shade tree. Also, the stems are aromatic.

Tulip poplar does best with full sun exposure, at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. It strives in acidic, clay, loamy, moist, sandy, and well-drained soils. 

Other Common Names: American tulip tree, Fiddletree, Tulip tree, Tulipwood, Whitewood, Yellow-Poplar

Growing Zones:  4 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 70 – 90 feet tall with a spread of 40 feet

Flowering Season: Spring

13. Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)

Norway Maple
Image by Randi Hausken via Flickr

Norway maple became popular in the 17th century for its hardy timber.

The tree is an excellent food source for wildlife; caterpillars eat the leaves and birds, and small mammals love their seeds.

Norway maple-like other maples have palmate leaves with five lopes and a pointed tooth. They are dark green and turn either yellow or red in the fall. Broken leaves produce a milky sap.

The flowers are attractive – bright green in clusters of up to 30. They appear in spring. The fruits turn winged seeds, known as samaras.

This tree is typically used as a street tree and sometimes in parks or gardens. This is because of its tall trunk and tolerance to pollution.

Norway maple does well in full sun or even partial shade. A thorny tree tolerates alkaline soil, clay soil, and road salt.

Growing Zones:  4 – 7

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 60 feet tall with a spread of 15 – 60 feet

Flowering Season: April

14. Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua)

Sweet Gum
Image by F.D. Richards via Flickr

Sweetgum is distinguished by its deep, glossy green star-shaped leaves. Leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple throughout the fall, providing stunning fall color. The leaves tend to remain on the tree until late.

It grows in a pyramidal form with age, becoming more oval or rounded. Growing at a moderate to fast rate, it makes a decent large shade or street tree.

This tree thrives in full sun, which is at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Sweet gum tolerates a range of soil types except for alkaline soils.

Other Common Names: American storax, Gum, Satin-walnut, Star gum, Sweetgum

Growing Zones:  5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 75 feet tall with a spread of 40 – 50 feet

15. Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)

Image by Mrs. Gemstone via Flickr

Sourwood is an attractive ornamental or specimen tree for the landscape. From June to early July, sourwood produces fragrant white flowers on drooping stalks that resemble lily-of-the-valley flowers. The tree provides excellent fall color, with leaves turning crimson, purplish-red, and occasionally yellow.

If planted in the right location, sourwood can live for 100-200 years, growing into an oval shape over time. Bees produce honey from sourwood, which is highly valued.

Sourwood grows well in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, and clay soils; and prefers normal moisture. This tree thrives in full sun, doing well with at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day.

Other Common Names: Sorrel tree

Growing Zones:  5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 25 – 30 feet tall with a spread of 20 feet

Flowering Season: Early Summer

16. White Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida - inflorescence VS leaves - GA Red Mtn State Park 2021-04-06
Image by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

White flowering dogwood is one of the most popular trees in West Virginia. The white flowering dogwood is a favorite in many yards and gardens because it’s easy to grow.

It provides excellent fall color with its leaves turning a brilliant red-purple color. Also, its famous white bracts, which are flower-like leaves, surround its tiny flowers. They appear in the spring.

They produce beautiful red fruits which ripen by the fall. You can leave them there to attract wildlife to your yard! At least 36 birds—including ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, and wild turkey—are known to eat its fruit.

Chipmunks, foxes, squirrels, skunks, rabbits, deer (browsing for winter food), beaver (building dams with branches), and black bears (eating berries) also enjoy dining on them.

Flowering dogwood strives in acidic and well-drained soil. Also, it needs 4 – 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. You can easily prune flowering dogwood, but the tree naturally grows into a neat shape.

Growing Zones:  5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 25 feet tall with an equal spread

Flowering Season: Spring

Planting or Admiring West Virginia’s Many Trees

Falling in the temperate USDA hardiness zones 5a to 7a and with sufficient moisture year-round, West Virginia has many trees. Before deciding which of the above trees to plant, check out this West Virginia hardiness map to narrow down your choices.  

A unique addition to this list is crepe myrtle, a subtropical favorite. It is common and strives in zone 7a, but some hardy varieties strive in all corners of the state. 

Also, many of the more beautiful trees on this list are native to West Virginia, such as sourwoodflowering dogwoodtulip poplar, and downy serviceberry. All of these four trees offer jaw-dropping flowers and stunning fall foliage. You will find them in the many parks and forests in West Virginia or include them in your landscape. 

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Kenique Ivery

Global Green Thumb

Kenique grew up in Florida and currently lives in southern China. Before China, he spent many years in Portugal and the Caribbean. He studied economics and is a teacher, entrepreneur, and writer. Since he was knee-high, he has been gardening and was an active member of FFA (Future Farmers of America). He is his best self in a densely wooded forest or park. Depending on the day, you can find him reading, hiking, traveling, exercising, sipping lots of tea, or eating everything in sight.

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