Dawn Redwood

Eastern Red Cedar

Dogwood Elizabeth

Crape Myrtle Catawba

Dogwood Autumn

Dogwood Cherokee Sunset

Japanese Crape Myrtle

Chinese Flame Tree

Sparkleberry Winter Red

Eastern Red Cedar

Southern Magnolia Goliath


Scarlet Oak


There are thousands of tree species that will grow in North Carolina. The number is magnified even further by the numerous cultivars that have been selected as improved versions of the species. Selecting a few trees to designate as Trees of Strength is not an easy task. One of our concerns was the possibility of people over planting a specific tree or being unable to find it at their local nursery.

Many trees create the feeling of STRENGTH.

Other trees do not give the impression of strength (massive trunk, branches) but do fit into this group when you consider they are very dependable and have few or no pest problems. The following is a partial list of good trees for North Carolina landscapes. Trees with brittle wood (such as silver maple, Bradford pear), significant pest problems (such as Siberian elm, Leyland cypress), and short lived trees (such as flowering cherries, white pine, mimosa) were omitted.

Select a tree suited to your growing conditions. Consider: mature size, soil drainage, and the amount of sunlight, as well as, desirable traits such as flowers, fruit, fall color, bark, and ability to attract wildlife. The climate in North Carolina varies greatly from the coast to the highest mountain peaks. Few trees are well suited for all regions of our state. In some cases, cultivars of certain tree species are far superior to the species. Additional trees can be found on the Consumer Hort Tree web site.
Native trees are indicated with an *.

Contact your local Cooperative Extension Center for trees they recommend in your area and that are suitable for your specific site conditions.

Suggested Small Trees

Apple serviceberry, Amelanchier x grandiflora
Carolina silverbell, Halesia tetraptera = Halesia carolina*
Carolina Sentinel holly, Ilex x 'Carolina Sentinel'
Cornelian cherry dogwood, Cornus mas *
Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids
Dogwood, Cornus florida *
Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis *
Golden rain tree, Koelreteria paniculata
Japanese maple, Acer palmatum
Kousa dogwood, Cornus kous
Oklahoma redbud, Cercis canadensis ssp. retisus
Red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia *
Serviceberry, Amelanchier spp. *
Smoke tree, Cotinus coggyria
Stewarta, Stewarta koreana, Stewarta rostata, Stewarta malacodendron
Styrax, Styrax americana*
Witchhazel, Hamamelis spp.

Small trees - more difficult to find but worth the effort
Chinese quince, Cydonia sinensis
Chinese fringe tree, Chionanthus retusus
Chinese flame tree, Koelreuteria bipinnata
Coral bark maple, Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'
Euscaphis, Euscaphis japonica
Fernleaf maple, Acer japonica f. Aconitifoilium
Hedge maple, Acer campestre
Ironwood, Carpinus carolinea*
Jacktree, Sinojackia rehderiana
Japanese alder, Alnus japonica
Japanese styrax, Styrax japonica
Japanese tree lilac, Syringa reticulata
Japanese crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia fauriei
Japanese stripped-bark maple, Acer capillipes
Paperbark maple, Acer griseum
Persian parrotia, Parrotia persica
Possumhaw, Ilex decidua *
Sapphireberry, Symploccos paniculata
September Beauty sumac, Rhus chinese 'September Beauty'
Southern sugar maple, Acer barbatum *
Sourwood, Oxydendron arboreum *
Sparkleberry, Ilex x verticullata 'Sparkleberry'
Stellar hybrid dogwoods, Cornus stellar hybrids
Three-flower maple, Acer triflorum
Trident maple, Acer buergerianum

Suggested Medium and Large Trees
American Holly, Ilex opaca *
Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum *
Chinese pistachio, Pistacia chinensis
Chinese elm, Ulmus parvifolia
Cryptomeria, Cryptomeria japonica
Dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptosroboides
Foster holly, Ilex x attenuata 'Fosteri'
Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergiana
Live oak, Quercus virginiana
Loblolly pine, Pinus taeda *
Nellie R. Stevens holly, Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens'
Oaks (white, scarlet, pin, water, southern red, red, live) Quercus spp.*
Red Maple, Acer rubrum *
River birch, Betula nigra *
Savannah holly, Ilex x 'Savannah'
Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora *
Sugar maple, Acer saccharium *
Zelkova, Zelkova serrata

Medium and large Trees - more difficult to find but worth the effort
American beech, Fagus grandifolia *
Austrian pine, Pinus nigra
Black gum, Nyssa sylvatica *
Bur oak, Quercus macrocarpa
Chinese wingnut, Pterocarya stenoptera
Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana *
European hornbeam, Carpinus betulus
Freeman magnolia, Magnolia x 'Freeman'
Ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba
Golden Larch, Pseudolarix amabilis
Green ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Incense cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
Japanese pagoda tree, Sophora japonica
Japanese strippedbark maple, Acer capillipes
Japanese raisen tree, Hovenia dulcis
Kadsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonica
Lacebark pine, Pinus bungeana
Limber pine, Pinus flexilis
London planetree, Platnus x acerifolia
Pond cypress, Taxodium distichum var. nutans *
Sassaffras, Sassafras albidum *
Sawtooth oak, Quercus acutissima
Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua *
Sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana *
Swiss stone pine, Pinus cembra
Yellow buckeye, Aesculus flava *
Yellowwood, Cladrastis lutea =Cladrastis kentukea *

Images © Erv Evans

Compiled by: Erv Evans
Web Design by: Mark Dearmon
Trees of Strength is a registered service mark of NC State University.