Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana)

Qualities : Fragrant oil in wood repels insects; wood is rot resistant. Its small berry-like cones are used to flavor gin and are eaten by many birds.
Form/Habit : Conical shape in open spaces. Used for hedge or landscape accent. Young needles are prickly to touch.
Soil/Climate : tolerates wide variety of soil, hardy to USDA zone 4 but slow growing in poor soil. It is a “pioneer species” in old fields and may live to be more than 800 years old.
Comments : Red Cedar can become “invasive” in areas not mowed or no longer allowed to burn periodically, locally along interstate 81 especially in TN for example. It should not be planted closed to apple orchards.
References: The Scientific Reason Why Cedar Keeps Moths Away From Old Clothes, American Conifer Society


Chinese Chestnut (Castanea Mollissima)

Qualities : Deciduous, blight resistant, grows 1-2 feet per year, best in full sun. Nuts produced in prickly husks (fall nuisance near play yards), edible by humans, deer and other wildlife
Form/Habit : spreading form good for shade, height and width 40 to 60 feet
Soil/Climate : prefers sandy, more acidic soils, hardy zones 4-8
Comments : should be planted in pairs not less than 30′ apart for pollination.
References: American and Chinese Chestnuts, Growing Chinese Chestnuts


American Basswood, linden (Tilia Americana)

Mature Height: This is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching a height of 60 to 120 ft (exceptionally 129 ft) with a trunk diameter of 3–4 ft at maturity. The crown is domed, the branches spreading, often pendulous.

Soil / Climate:  It likes moist soil with a relatively high pH. It is often planted on the windward side of an orchard as a protection to young and delicate trees.

The bark is gray to light brown, with narrow, well defined fissures. The roots are large, deep, and spreading.  It is a common wood for use in the production of solid body electric guitar, because it is light, strong and resonant. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Linden tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes.

Wildlife: Basswood are an important nectar source for honeybees. Its flowers provide abundant nectar for a variety of insects. The seeds are eaten by chipmunks, mice, and squirrels. Rabbits and voles eat the bark, sometimes girdling young trees. The leaves serve as food for caterpillars.


Black Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)

Mature Height/spread: 5-12 ft high and 5-12′ spread in ideal conditions.
Soil / Climate: Prefers moist, fertile soils. Elderberry is found mostly throughout the eastern and midwestern United States.

The Elderberry has oblong to oval leaves that turn greenish-yellow in the fall. White, fragrant flowers which can be washed, shaken dry, stripped from stems and beaten into batters for pancakes, waffles and muffins. Berries are small, purple-black color, and have a pleasant taste. The berries ripen in late July through September. An easy way to improve the flavor of mature elderberries is to dry them in the sun or oven. Mix elderberries with apples to make an outstanding jelly. Two year old shoots will produce fruit, which persists into early fall. Each berry contains from 3-5 seeds. These seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals ingesting them. Periodic pruning is recommended. Planting multiple shrubs for best results for fruiting.

Wildlife: The fruit is eaten by raccoons, squirrels, mice, and as many as 45 species of birds.


Red Mulberry (Morus Rubra)

Mature Height: 10-25′
Soil / Climate: Native to Eastern North America, Red mulberry grows on a variety of moist soils. Seeds are carried great distances by birds so trees may be found on any soil that is not too dry. It grows best in open conditions but is tolerant of shade.

Red mulberry is self-pollinating.  Ripe fruit is dark red to purple-black. The fruit is similar in appearance to a blackberry, edible and very sweet with a good flavor. Not all the berries on a tree ripen at once, which means the berries can be harvested over a month’s time in early summer. The fruit is used in pies, tarts, cobblers and raw in a similar way to blackberries.

Wildlife: Berries are chiefly eaten by  thrushes, robins, waxwings, vireos, orioles, cardinals, and finches, red admiral butterflies and by mammals such as squirrels, opossums and fox.


Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana)

Mature height/spread: 30 ft/2-ft

Soil / Climate: native to northern North America and Eastern Canada. Grows in dry rocky areas, to moist rich woods.  Prefers full sun. Zones 3-7

Grayish, yellow-brown smooth bark.  Long, compound leaves with sharp toothed edges.  Leaves turn orange-red in autumn.  Flowers are white or pink.  Berries are orange-red and 1/4 inch in diameter.  Buds are shiny, in contrast with the European version’s pubescent buds.The fruit ripens in October and remains on the tree all winter.

Wildlife: Fruit is a favorite food of the ruffed grouse, the red-headed woodpecker, gray catbird, robin, bluebird, sharp-tailed grouse, blue grouse, American robins, other thrushes, waxwings, jays, and oriole. The berries are also eaten by numerous small mammals such as squirrels and rodents. It is also preferred browse for moose and white-tailed deer. Moose will eat foliage, twigs, and bark.


Black Locust (Robinia Pseudoacacia)

Mature Height: 40-80 ft. Its trunk can grow to 3-4 feet in diameter. Can sucker from its roots.

Soil / Climate: It is native to South Eastern United States. Black Locust is easily transplanted and grown. Likes full sun and tolerant of most soils. Its known as a very tough plant.

Notes: drooping, black seed pods 2-4″ long. The bark is deep furrowed and blackish. Each leaf usually has a pair of thorns at its base. Its fragrant white flowers (which smell similar to orange blossoms) can be dipped in batter and deep fried. Because it tolerates pollution well, it makes a good city, planted tree. Black Locust wood is hard, resistant to rot and durable, making it useful for furniture, flooring, paneling, fence posts and small watercraft. It is also planted for firewood because it grows rapidly and makes a good slow burning fire. It has the ability to burn even when wet. Makes a good  shade tree, used as erosion control and/or for flowering effect.

Wildlife: Black locust produces large dark seedpods which hang and provide food for quail, turkey, grouse, pheasant, and song birds  from autumn to early spring when vegetation becomes scarce. Small wildlife animals often take advantage of the Black Locust’s thorns by nesting among the branches. Deer are also attracted to Black locust.