25 Types of Trees Native to Connecticut (to Plant or Admire)

The state of Connecticut is divided into four main areas. The Central Lowlands are made up of The Connecticut and Quinnipiac river valleys which run from North to South.

The Eastern Highlands range from 500 ft to 1,100 ft close to the Massachusetts border, whilst the Western Highlands extend from 200 ft to over 2000 ft. The coastal lowlands consist mainly of rocky peninsulas and shallow bays.

The USDA growing zones of CT extend from zones 5-7 and are regulated by the many bodies of water the state encompasses.

25 Types of Trees Native to Connecticut

1. Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)

Atlantic White Cedar
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Atlantic White Cedar is a dense columnar evergreen conifer with short ascending branches and visually appealing green-blue needles on juvenile trees. Adults develop a more scale-like leaf and bear an abundance of tiny cones of the branch tips. The bark is a light reddish-brown and contains flat ridges.

The Atlantic White Cedar grows in coastal areas, is free from major pests or diseases, and is easy to grow, requiring no maintenance. It’ll grow in wet areas with poor drainage, close to ponds, bogs, or streams. It prefers peaty, sandy moist soils in full sun or partial shade.

Other Common Names: Atlantic White Cypress, Southern White Cedar, White Cypress, False-Cypress, Swamp Cedar

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 12-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

2. Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Balsam Fir
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The Balsam Fir is a narrow, conical tree with a spire-like crown. The bark is thin and smooth when young, breaking into brownish scales with age with resin blisters. The crown consists of dense, dark green leaves that are flat and needle-like, 15-30mm long with a small patch of stomata near the tip.

They are spirally arranged on the shoot. The needles become smaller and thicker the higher up the tree you look.

The seed cones are erect, dark purple and ripen to brown, releasing winged seeds in September. Balsam firs prefer cool climates with consistent moisture near their roots. They can typically be found around swamps, dry swamps, hardwood slopes, and mountain tops.

Other Common Names: Balm of Gilead

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 46-66 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: May-June

3. Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Black Gum
Image by Leonora (Ellie) Enking via Flickr

The Black Gum is an attractive native tree that grows in an oval shape and produces stunning fall colors of orange, red, purple, and scarlet that can appear on the same branch. The bark furrows with age and grows to resemble an alligator hide on older trunks.

The leaves are alternate and simple, 3-6” in length, ovate to obovate-elliptical, and are glossy/dark green in the summer.

The Black Gum produces small greenish-white flowers that are followed by small bluish-black fruit in late September/October and are eaten by birds and mammals.

Male and female flowers are produced on different trees, are a valuable nectar source, and emerge with the leaves. The Black Gum will grow in moist, loamy, sandy, silty well-drained soils.

Other Common Names: Tupelo, Black Tupelo, Sour Gum, Pepperidge, Tupelogum

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – June

4. Downy Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea)

downy shadbush
Image by Kerry Woods via Flickr

The Downy Shadbush gets its common name from the soft hair on the undersides of the young foliage. It’s a small tree or large shrub with white flowers that appear in drooping racemes. The bark is grey and smooth but streaked with longitudinal fissures on young trees that are scaly on more mature specimens.

Small reddish edible berries are produced in the early summer and are eaten by over 40 species of birds and other mammals, according to the Native Plant Trust.The Downy Shadbush will grow best in moist, well-drained acidic soils in either sun or shade.

Other Common Names: Common Serviceberry, Sarvisberry, Alabama Serviceberry, Juneberry, Sarvis, Sarvis Tree, Shadblow

Growing Zones: 5-8

Average Size at Maturity: 15-25 ft tall and 15-25 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

5. Tamarack (Larix laricina)

Tamarack
Image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr

The Tamarack is a small to a medium-sized deciduous, coniferous tree that’s perfect for colder climates. It features an upright pyramidal form and ascending horizontal branches. The Tamarack is different from many cone-bearing trees in that it loses its leaves in the winter. The needles are light blue-green and turn yellow before being shed in the winter.

The small cones start red, changing brown before the seeds are released several months after pollination. The Tamarack can be easily grown in moist, acidic well-drained soils but won’t tolerate dry soils, shade, or pollution.

Other Common Names: Black Larch, Eastern Larch, Hackmatack, Red Larch, Eastern Tamarack.

Growing Zones: 2-5

Average Size at Maturity: 30-60 ft tall and 15-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

6. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Eastern Red Cedar
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The Eastern Red Cedar has a narrow and compact columnar crown that sometimes becomes broad and irregular. The foliage is scale-like, has a pleasant aroma, and varies in color between gray-green, and blue-green, to light or dark green. All colors change to brown in winter. Female trees produce pale blue fruit.

The Eastern Red Cedar features a single, soft silver-colored bark. It’s resistant to extremes of both heat and cold, as well as drought. Prefers dry limestone soils, but will adapt to sandy, sandy loams, loam clay, clay, and rocky-based soils.

Other Common Names: Red Cedar, Virginian Juniper, Red Juniper

Growing Zones: 2-9

Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall and 8-20 ft wide

Flowering Season: March to May

7. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Eastern Hemlock
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Eastern Hemlock is a conical evergreen tree with drooping branches and small cones. It’s a slow-growing tree that can be pruned into a hedge but looks best left unkempt. The needles are glossy green-grey with a white underside.

The bark is smooth and brown on young trees, becoming blackish-brown with deep grooves as the tree ages. The leaves taper off and have a sharp serrated edge. The cones are hanging and ovoid.

The Eastern hemlock grows best in areas with cooler summers and doesn’t tolerate drought. It needs moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soil in full sun to partial shade.

Other Common Names: Canada Hemlock, Hemlock Spruce

Growing Zones: 3-7

Average Size at Maturity: 40-70 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: N/A

8. White Pine (Pinus strobus)

White Pine
Image by 5u5 via Flickr

The White Pine has a conical crown that becomes rounded, irregular, or flattened with age. The bark darkens and thickens with age becoming deeply furrowed with broad ridges and rectangular purple-tinged plates. The branches are horizontal spreading and tiered.

The needles appear in groups of 5-7 and are light blue-green and appear at the end of the twigs.

The White Pine is the largest of the northeastern conifers. In the wild, it can be found in upland sites, in mesic sand or loam, on rocky stream banks, and northern slopes.

Other Common Names: Eastern White Pine, Northern White Pine, Weymouth Pine, Soft Pine

Growing Zones: 3-8

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – May

9. Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Red Mulberry
Image by WhatsAllThisThen via Flickr

The Red Mulberry is a medium-sized tree with a rounded and broad crown and a short trunk. The ovate leaves are up to 8 inches long, heart-shaped, and have either 3-lobes or are unlobed with elongated tips with serrated margins. The bark is grey with long scaly ridges.

The flower and fruit of the Red Mulberry are similar to those of the White Mulberry and measure between 1 and 1.25 inches and mature in the summer. The Red Mulberry grows best in moist, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade.

Other Common Names: Common Mulberry, Mulberry

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 25-60 ft tall and 35-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: March – June

10. Arbor Vitae (Thuja occidentalis)

Arbor Vitae
Image by Dan Keck via Flickr

Arbor Vitae can be either single or multi-trunked trees with either a columnar or conical shape. The branches are flat, spreading, and horizontal, and have dark green foliage, which turns yellow-green or brown in the winter.

The Arbor Vitae is an aromatic evergreen tree and was one of the first trees introduced from the Americas into Europe.

In the wild, the Arbor Vitae can be observed in wet sites such as swampy areas, alongside streams and lake margins, and on rocky hillsides. It can be cultivated either as a specimen or planted in groups and trained as a hedge. It’ll tolerate heat and air pollution provided the soil is kept moist.

Other Common Names: Northern White Cedar, Eastern White Cedar, American Arborvitae, Arborvitae

Growing Zones: 2-7

Average Size at Maturity: 20-40 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: April

11. American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

American Chestnut
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The American Chestnut is a large tree with a wide trunk and broad spreading crown but now is seen merely as sprouts from diseased trees. The American Chestnut is all but gone from the forests, due to the chestnut blight from an introduced fungus.

Trees will grow in areas where the blight is absent. It’ll root from stumps and may even produce some nuts before succumbing to the blight again. So whilst it is a nut-bearing tree, if you’re looking to harvest your own nuts, you’d be best to plant something else.

The American Chestnut is a stately tree but due to its susceptibility to the blight is not recommended for the home landscape, but is better admired in the wild. June-July sees the production of long yellowish-white male catkins. Female flowers are much smaller and appear in midsummer.

The American Chestnut will grow on dry gravelly, mostly acidic soil.

Other Common Names: Chestnut

Growing Zones: 5b-8a

Average Size at Maturity: 60-100 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: Summer

12. Swamp Cottonwood (Populus heterophylla)

Swamp Cottonwood
Image by NC Wetlands via Flickr

The Swamp cottonwood is a large deciduous tree found in low-lying riparian areas often on sites that are too wet for other poplars. In CT it’s found in the Coastal Plains where it’s most commonly found growing in heavy clays in shallow swamps, sloughs, and wet river bottoms.

The Swamp Cottonwood is dioecious, and the leaves are heart-shaped. Seedlings need near-full sunlight to grow and consistent moisture around the growing season.

Other Common Names: Downy Poplar, Swamp Poplar, Black Cottonwood, River Cottonwood

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: March-May

13. Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)

Red Pine
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

The Red Pine is generally seen as the dominant overstory species where it occurs but may be seen as an understory species where it occurs with White Pine (P. strobus) and/or Jack Pine(P. banksiana.) It’s found in pure stands, mixed conifer/mixed conifer hardwood stands.

The needles/fascicles come in pairs and are flexible, slightly twisted, and measure 4-6.7 inches long. The majority of needles persist for 3 years but some may persist for up to 6 years.

The cones of the Red Pine are produced near the branch tips and contain seeds 3-5 mm across. The crown is dense, symmetrical, and ovoid-shaped with upturned branches.

Other Common Names: Northern Pine, Norway Pine

Growing Zones: 2-5

Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: June

14. Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Redbud
Image by sfbaywalk via Flickr

The Redbud is a stunning tree with a rounded crown of spreading branches and pink flowers that cover the trunk and branches in the early spring. The flowers appear before the leaves and are borne in dense clusters and can cover the whole tree, making the redbud an unbeatable choice if you’re looking for a flowering tree for CT.

The foliage is heart-shaped and deciduous, yet lacks significant fall show. The flowers can also be eaten raw or cooked. In the wild, the Redbud can be found along woods, stream banks, and limestone bluffs and will grow in shade/part shade.

Other Common Names: Eastern Redbud

Growing Zones: 5-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 26-33 ft wide

Flowering Season: March-May

15. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Sweetbay Magnolia
Image by Gardening Solutions via Flickr

The Sweetbay Magnolia is a beautiful flowering tree that features simple dark green leaves with lighter undersides that flash in the wind. The flowers are white and fragrant, cup-shaped, and are held above the branches, in late spring or early summer.

The flowers are followed by seed pods which, when ripe, split open to reveal bright red seeds that are attractive to birds and wildlife.

The Sweetbay Magnolia prefers wet soil, making it a good choice for flood-prone areas. Whilst it’s evergreen in warmer southern areas, in CT, the Sweetbay Magnolia is deciduous. The narrow crown spread makes it suited for smaller, compacted areas.

Other Common Names: Swamp Bay Magnolia, Sweetbay, Laurel Magnolia, White Bay, Beaver Tree

Growing Zones: 4-8

Average Size at Maturity: 10-35 ft tall and 10-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring-early summer

16. Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple
Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr

The Black Maple is a tall tree with a straight central trunk and wide-spreading branches when grown in the open. Its appearance is similar to the Sugar Maple, and the fall colors are orange and red.

In the wild, the Black Maple can be found in dry, calcareous sites growing in the shade or part shade but can also be found in moist soils of river bottoms in mixed hardwood forests.

Yellow/green flowers appear with the leaves, and the seeds are borne on winged samaras. Black Maples can be tapped for maple syrup. The leaves are browsed by deer, and the buds and seeds are eaten by birds.

Other Common Names: Black Sugar Maple, Hard Maple, Rock Maple

Growing Zones: 4-6

Average Size at Maturity: 75-120 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – June

17. American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)

American Hornbeam
Image by Suzanne Cadwell via Flickr

The American Hornbeam is a forest understory tree, meaning it works well planted in shady landscapes and woodland gardens. It features a round and often multi-stemmed form and has a slow growth rate.

The new foliage emerges in beautiful shades of purple-red, changing dark green, and orange-red in the fall, offering year-round colorful interest. The bark is gray-blue and has long sinewy ridges, so provides interest after the leaves have been shed.

The American Hornbeam will prefer moist, well-drained soil, but will also tolerate alkaline, clay soils, and dry sites. The flowers appear on separate male and female trees and are followed by clusters of winged nutlets.

Other Common Names: Blue Beech, Ironwood, Musclewood, Muscle Beech

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 20-30 ft tall and 20-30 ft wide

Flowering Season: Spring

18. Green Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis)

Green Hawthorn
Image by Scott Zona via Flickr

The Green Hawthorn is a small tree native to the eastern United States. They are tough trees that can tolerate urban conditions well, and present few pests or problems.

Spring sees the emergence of clusters of fragrant white flowers. These are followed by persistent red fruit that is enjoyed by numerous types of birds throughout the winter.

In the fall, before the leaves are shed, the observer is treated to shades of red and purple. Green Hawthorn will grow well in moist well-drained soil and will tolerate clay, alkaline soils, dry sites, and occasional drought.

Other Common Names: Hawthorn

Growing Zones: 4-7

Average Size at Maturity: 25-35 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: May

19. Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Common Persimmon
Image by Puddin Tain via Flickr

The common persimmon is often seen as a low and shrub-like tree. However, in deep, rich soil it can grow to be a tall tree up to 100ft tall with a spreading crown of pendulous branches. the flowers are yellow and bell-shaped and are usually hidden by half-grown foliage.

The large oval-shaped leaves turn shades of yellow in the fall. The fruit is large and edible and attracts many forms of wildlife, including deer, skunk, opossums, and raccoons.

The common persimmon is a great choice if you’re looking for a native fruit tree to plant in your yard in CT. The orange fruit has a sweet taste and ripens in the autumn. The common persimmon will grow best in partial shade, in deep rich moist soils.

Other Common Names: Eastern Persimmon, Possumwood, Date Plum, Winter Plum, Jove’s Fruit, Simmon, Possum Apple, Sugar Plum

Growing Zones: 4-10

Average Size at Maturity: 35-60 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – June

20. Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Tulip Tree
Image by Hornbeam Arts via Flickr

The Tulip Tree is a member of the popular magnolia family and is a large native tree. Featuring a columnar form and large trunk, the timber is popular for woodworking. The Tulip Tree can be recognized by its unique leaf shape which has four lobes and an inverted ‘V’ at the tip.

The flowers are held high up above the leaves, come in green, orange, and yellow, and are shaped like cups. They emerge late in the spring after the leaves have fully emerged.

The Tulip Tree is an important source of nectar for bees. Fall sees the leaves turn attractive shades of gold. They are tolerant of urban conditions so can be planted as a garden specimens. Snow, wind, and ice can cause the Tulip Tree to drop branches so avoid planting anywhere where this might be a problem.

Other Common Names: American Tulip Tree, Tulipwood, Tuliptree, Tulip Poplar, Whitewood, Fiddle Tree, Yellow Poplar

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size at Maturity: 70-90 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Flowering Season: Late spring after the leaves have emerged

21. Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)

Green Ash
Image by Matt Lavin via Flickr

The Green Ash has a delicate pyramidal shape when young, and develops an upright standing habit when mature. The crown shape varies, from irregular, to symmetrical to a rounded top.

The leaves measure up to 8” long and are divided into 5-9 leaflets with toothed margins and sharp tips. The foliage is deep green in the summer and turns yellow in the fall before being shed.

Clusters of small flowers appear on separate male and female trees and are followed by dry-winged fruit. The Green Ash is the most widespread native ash and can be found in woodlands, swamps, streams, riverbanks depressions, and ravines.

It’s also commonly planted for shade. The Green Ash will grow in moist, fertile, sandy loamy soils.

Other Common Names: Red Ash

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size at Maturity: 50-70 ft tall and 35-50 ft wide

Flowering Season: April – June

22. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Sweetgum
Image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr

The Sweetgum is a large, straight-trunked tree with a broadly conical crown native to the Eastern United States. When young it remains narrow and erect, becoming oblong to rounded with age.

The foliage is star-shaped, features 5-7 lobes, and is aromatic when crushed. Dark green when young, fall sees the leaves change to stunning shades of purple, crimson, and orange.

The unique branching pattern and furrowed bark provide winter interest. Yellow/green flowers are produced in late spring, borne on spherical clusters, and are followed by round, spiky gum balls that remain on the tree throughout the winter.

The Sweetgum makes a superb shade tree and also works well planted as a specimen in larger landscapes. It grows best in deep, moist soil, and is found in the wild alongside streams and ponds.

Other Common Names: American Sweetgum, American Storax, Hazel Pine, Satin Walnut, Star-leaved Gum, Alligatorwood

Growing Zones: 5-10

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 ft tall and 40-60 ft wide

Flowering Season: May

23. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Sassafras
Image by Scott Zona via Flickr

Sassafras is a woodland tree with a beautiful profile throughout the year. The horizontal branches are layered, being wider at the bottom, and becoming narrower near the top. Most of the leaves are mitten-shaped, whilst some are simple ovals.

In spring, dioecious flowers bloom from fat terminal buds, before the leaves open. The fruit on females are shiny blue-black and are attached to a red cup by a red stalk.

Crushed leaves or twigs emit the characteristic Sassafras aroma, reminiscent of cinnamon and citrus. Sassafras bark and extract was once a common food flavoring but is now banned according to Oregon State University due to its reported carcinogenic properties.

Other Common Names: White Sassafras, Common Sassafras, Ague Tree, Cinnamon Wood, Saloop, Mitten Tree

Growing Zones: 50-65 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide

Average Size at Maturity: 4-9

Flowering Season: March – April

24. American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)

Mountain Ash
Image by yeimaya via Flickr

The American Mountain Ash is a small tree often grown as an ornamental. At high elevations, it can appear as a small shrub. The narrow and open crown has a rounded top. The deciduous leaves are pinnately compound and appear on bright red stalks, before turning golden orange in the fall.

Small flower clusters are held in clusters, before turning into bright red berries which are attractive to many birds. The American Mountain Ash can be found in the wild in moist and cool open areas, in acidic soil.

Other Common Names: American Mountain-Ash

Growing Zones: 3-6

Average Size at Maturity: 15-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide

Flowering Season: May – June

25. American Basswood (Tilia americana)

American Basswood
Image by uacescomm via Flickr

The American Basswood is a tall, wide-spreading tree, often planted for its dense shade or as a specimen tree. Conical in youth, age sees it develop a rounded outline. The leaves are heart-shaped or broadly oval.

June sees the emergence of fragrant white flowers that attract bees, which make a strongly flavored honey from the blossom. The seeds attract songbirds and bluejays.

The American Basswood tends to sprout from the root, developing a stand of tall trees around the original tree. Grows best in moist, rich well-drained loamy soils.

Other Common Names: Bee Tree, American Linden

Growing Zones: 2-8

Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 ft tall and 30-60 ft wide

Flowering Season: May to early July

Wild or Cultivated Beauty

The state of Connecticut encompasses four distinct zones, dissected north-to-south by bodies of water and in other directions by highlands, and low-lying coastal areas.

Whether you want to plant a native woodland-style garden, incorporate a few natives into your yard, or admire natives in the wild, the state of CT offers many options for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy and respectively interact with the natural world.

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