Deciduous trees seasonally shed their leaves. Winter-deciduous trees can make good shade trees as they can shade out the harsh summer sun, whilst letting light in during the winter months. The fallen leaves can be used to improve your soil through composting and mulching.
The growing zones of CO extend from zones 3 to 7, so there’s no shortage of different tree species for you to choose from to plant in your garden or yard.
9 Excellent Deciduous Trees To Plant In CO
The Thinleaf Alder is a broadleaf, deciduous tree or multi-stemmed shrub with a rounded form. The bark is thin and gray-green, grayish-brown, or reddish-brown. The leaves are alternate, simple, broadly ovate-oblong or elliptic, and muted green on both sides. Male and female catkins are produced prior to blooming, and expand before the leaves emerge in the spring.
The Thinleaf Alder is considered the most common Alder of the Rocky Mountains and can be found growing near water. Its presence is often considered an indication of springs or streams nearby. It’ll grow in sun or partial shade.
Other Common Names: Mountain Alder
Growing Zones: 5-7
Average Size at Maturity: 15-40 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide
Flowering Season: March – April
The Turkish Filbert is a deciduous tree with a pyramidal shape and a short trunk that supports dense horizontal branches. The growth rate is slow and the main branches have quite a small diameter relative to that of the main trunk. The bark on older trees sometimes becomes ridged and cork-like and peels off to reveal the orange-brown inner bark.
The leaves are a lush shade of green and are usually 5 inches long and remain on the tree long into the fall when they turn yellow-green before being shed.
Female flowers are inconspicuous and measure 2-3 inches in length, whilst male catkins (which are more ornamental) are produced in early spring. These are followed by clusters of edible fruit which are enjoyed by squirrels.
The Turkish Filbert has been successfully grown in urban areas with air pollution, and poor and compacted soils.
Other Common Names: Turkish Hazel
Growing Zones: 5-7
Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide
Flowering Season: February/March
The Ussurian Pear is a deciduous fruit tree and is considered the hardiest of the pears. It has a rounded and dense growing habit. The foliage is glossy dark green in the summer and turns reddish-purple in the fall. The buds are pinkish/white and open to 1 ⅓ inch in diameter white flowers in late spring. The fruit is round and greenish-yellow.
The Ussurian Pear is a good choice for colder climates and is a great high altitude fruit tree to grow, being a native of north-eastern Asia. It can tolerate partially sandy or clay soils and does best with average moisture levels.
Other Common Names: Ussuri Pear, Chinese Pear
Growing Zones: 3-7
Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall and 10-30 ft wide
Flowering Season: Mid-to-late spring
The Black Walnut grows around large areas of the United States and is the second most commonly grown walnut. It has a low-branching open crown that can spread as wide as it is tall.
In forests and commercial grows, it can reach 150 ft tall, but will likely be much smaller in the home landscape. Black Walnuts are also allelopathic, meaning they suppress some other plants’ growth nearby.
This fact, alongside their size and the difficulty in transplanting due to their deep taproot, will make them unsuitable for many yards, but those with enough space will be rewarded with a beautiful tree and plenty of delicious nuts to eat.
The Black Walnut has a medium-growing rate and is self-fertile, but requires wind for pollination. It’ll thrive in acidic, alkaline, sandy, loamy, rich well-drained wet and clay soils.
Other Common Names: Eastern Black Walnut, Eastern American Black Walnut
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 50-75 ft tall and 50-75 ft wide
Flowering Season: May-June
The Horsechestnut features a smooth pink/grey bark when young which develops large scaly plates with age. The leaves are palmate and contain 5-7 pointed, toothed leaflets, spreading from a central stem.
The flowers contain 4-5 fringed petals which are white with a pink blush in the middle. If pollination occurs, the flowers are followed by a spiky green husk with a reddish-brown seed inside.
The flowers are a rich nectar source for bees and other insects, whilst deer and other mammals feast on the seeds. Horse chestnuts can be grown as a shade tree, or street tree, but can be difficult to transplant due to their deep taproot.
Other Common Names: European Horsechestnut, Buckeye, Conker Tree
Growing Zones: 3-8
Average Size at Maturity: 50-75 ft tall and 40-65 ft wide
Flowering Season: May
The Northern Catalpa is a large deciduous tree with a narrow, oval crown. It has large heart-shaped leaves with an extended tip, shallow lobed margins, and large white to lavender-colored, bell-shaped flowers with frilly rims.
The flowers appear in heavy upright clusters on the outer end of the branches. They are white with a yellow streak in the middle and purplish spots inside.
The flowers are followed by a narrow seed-pod 18 inches in length which persists throughout winter. The Northern Catalpa requires partial shade and can be grown in moist, deep, rich soils. It’s fast-growing and not particularly drought tolerant.
Other Common Names: Hardy Catalpa, Western Catalpa, Cigar Tree, Indian Bean, Catawba Tree
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide
Flowering Season: May – June
The Littleleaf Linden has a pyramidal to oval shape and heart-shaped leaves that are lopsided at the base with saw-toothed margins. The leaves change from light glossy green to dark green to yellow throughout the year.
Clusters of fragrant yellowish flowers hang off a long stalk in the summer after most other trees have finished flowering, creating a great nectar source for bees and other pollinators.
The dense canopy makes the Littleleaf Linden popular as a shade tree, although it’s sensitive to drought and salt. The Littleleaf Linden will grow in acidic, alkaline, moist, rich, sandy, wet, and clay soils. Whilst it prefers moist conditions it doesn’t thrive in wet sites.
Other Common Names: Small Leaf Lime Tree, Tittle Leaf Linden, Small-Leaved Lime
Growing Zones: 3-7
Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide
Flowering Season: Summer
8. American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
The American Sycamore is a wide canopied deciduous tree with an open crown of crooked branches. The bark on older trees exfoliates to reveal a smooth white, inner bark. The leaves are broadly ovate and pointed, medium-to-dark green, and resemble maples. The fruit are globular and persists throughout early the winter.
The American Sycamore has the widest diameter of any native hardwood tree and is often planted as a shade or street tree. Plant in moist, sandy loams or silty clays.
Other Common Names: American Plane Tree, Western Plane, Occidental Plane, Buttonwood, Water Beech
Growing Zones: 4-9
Average Size at Maturity: 75-90 ft tall and 75-90 ft wide
Flowering Season: March-April
The Ohio Buckeye is a medium-sized canopy tree with ornamental fruit and orange fall colors. The deciduous foliage is palmately compound. The branches bend towards the ground and then reach back upwards, which gives the tree a peculiar silhouette.
The blossom are erect and held at the end of the twigs and attract hummingbirds. The fruit is a nut held in a spiny open husk and is eaten by squirrels
The Ohio Buckeye will grow best in moist, deep, well-drained soils.
Other Common Names: Buckeye, Fetid Buckeye, Horse Chestnut
Growing Zones: 3-7
Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide
Flowering Season: March-May
Right Tree Right Place
Trees are the lungs of the world; without trees, we wouldn’t be able to survive. By planting trees, you’re giving back to your environment and the world at large. No matter where you are, there’s a tree suited to your local conditions.
Deciduous trees are constantly changing throughout the year and allow you to connect with seasonal changes. Wherever you’re situated in the state of CO, there’s a deciduous tree suitable for your garden.
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- 10 Fast Growing Trees in Colorado (That Will Thrive)
- 10 Flowering Trees for Colorado: White, Pink & Yellow Blooms
Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn’t hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.