Looking for ornamental Native shrub/small tree

terrene(5b MA)March 27, 2007

Hi there, I'm looking for a native large shrub or small tree that is a stunning bloomer, has a nice form, and also provides wildlife value (bees, birds, etc.). Fall color a plus.

This specimen will be located in a very focal point in the front yard. It is full sun with rich garden soil but on the dry side so once established it should be able to tolerate some dryness.

It is replacing a mature burning bush planted by the previous owner - which is reasonably attractive and has stunning fall color, I must admit. It thrives in this location and makes tons of berries, and I have seen cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, and robins eat the berries (which means they're spreading burning bush seeds everywhere!).

Since burning bush is an invasive non-native, I want to get rid of it. My overall plant is to reduce the non-natives in the yard and replace them with natives.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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Blueberry rivals the fall color of burning bush and has berries. As long as you don't get the lowbush ones, blueberries can get pretty big.

The native fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is very ornamental and has blue berries.

Serviceberry (amelanchier), especially a cultivar like Autumn Brillance, has attractive white flowers, berries that the birds will fight you for, and nice fall color (better with the cultivar). In fact, this tree is probably your best choice for the criteria you mentioned.

Good plan to transition your way into natives, by the way! Something you can do at your own pace and with time for thoughtful research.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 9:02AM
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mountain ash can be found as a shrub or tree.
they have creamy white flowers and in the fall they have bright orange berries.
They are very stunning , and I believe the birds like them too.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:32AM
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Have you considered fothergilla? I had a Mt Airy variety that didn't get over 4 feet tall. It would bloom in the spring with whitish small pom pom type flowers then leaf out and in the fall it would turn brilliant shades of crimson, orange and yellow. Bees loved the shrub but I can't say it a great food source for birds.

Not sure how much room you have but bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) might also work. I've seen a fully mature specimen that was huge in the realm of 15-20' wide by about 10' tall. This specimen was in an ideal situation growing along a drainage ditch in full sun. They tend to sucker if happy but will produce masses of huge bottlebrush type flowers. It is a food source and refuge for birds and other critters.

Or you might also consider Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima - Brilliant Red Chokeberry. These do well in dry or wet conditions and produce red fruits and have nice fall color.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 12:45PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

My vote is for serviceberry! I love them so much I've planted them all over my property and hope to find a treeform of the same to plant back in my woods. They are year 'round shrubs in that they have feature that are nice throughout the seasons. In spring they have beautiful white flowers, in early summer they have berries that are red, as summer carries on the berries turn dark blue and then midnight blue/black. The birds, esp. Robins go NUTS for them. In autumn they are at their height of beauty, turning NEON orange. And they have a gorgeous habit, good shape and are nice perching shrubs for the birds in winter.

southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 1:46PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Blueberry is commonly recommended ot replace burning bushes. Similar in form and color.

Other choices could be Serviceberry, pagoda dogwood, witch hazel or several vibernums.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 5:26PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have been thinking very seriously about Serviceberry - I want to plant at least one or two somewhere. I am leaning towards a small tree so I would purchase a good-sized specimen in the tree form.

Knottyceltic, what species did you plant? Sounds like you have a shrub type.

Joepyeweed, what kind of native Viburnum would you suggest?

The Fringetree is beautiful too, but I think you have to have a female to get the berries.

I have already dug out several Burning Bush, two others that were mature like this one. Frankly they are so overplanted especially on commercial properties that who needs more of them.

I want something native but also something that really stands out as a specimen.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:41PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I don't really have a preference for any viburnum. I think it depends upon what you are looking for...you could read about each kind and make your own choice.

Viburnum prunifolium gets real big, a specimen type shrub or a good screening hedge.

Other viburnums that I might consider would be v. rafinesquianum, v. dentatum or V. acerifolium.

Dentatum has yellow fall color, where rafinesquianum and acerifolium has red fall color. Prunifolium is not really known for its fall color - kind of casts to yellow and red... which looks like brown froma distance.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:32PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Gee, sounded like you were describing Cornus florida to me. Was surprised reading through that nobody recomended it. Too "classic"? Cloud 9, Milky Way and Cherokee Princess are nice varieties.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 1:16PM
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susanswoods(Z6 VA)

I have these native viburnums:
--Several cultivars of dentatum. Large shrub, fuzzy white flowers, blue/black berries.
--trilobum, 'Wentworth' and a couple of species ones. I love the bronzy color of the new foliage. White flower that look a little like a lacecap hydrangea, red berries
--nudum, 'Winterthur' and a couple of species. Glossy foliage, green turning deep red. White flowers, berries that go from pink to purple.

For all of these you need either two different cultivars or species plants for cross pollination.

I am also a huge fan of serviceberries. I watch the berries slowly ripen. For a few days they are not quite ripe, then the next day they are gone! Someday I hope to be home on The Day to see who eats them.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:06PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Serviceberry is great for birds but they do strip it bare pretty quickly after those berries appear! Those billows of white flowers are so nice in early spring though.

Other suggestions: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) has lots of berries loved by birds. Tulip Poplar if you have a sunny site and you don't mind the tree getting very tall. Highbush Blueberry has the red fall foliage and those delicious berries. They berry better if you have several, though.

You might also look into Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) which is a native with pretty white flowers in spring and good nectar for butterflies. There are nice cultivars available, eg. Diablo which has a dark burgundy smoky leaf color.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 5:26PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Thanks for all the replies! Actually, I would love to plant most of the natives suggested in this thread. They all sound great.

I have pretty much decided on a Serviceberry and hope to get it purchased and planted before they bloom here in Mass.

Kwoods - I would love to plant a Cornus florida, but I think this location is too dry for it. I want something that can withstand some drought in the summertime once it is established.

Susanwoods - if you only plant one type of native viburnum, does that mean you won't get berries? I wasn't aware of that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 8:03PM
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The pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternafolia) will take dry shade. Mine are growing next to Cottonwood trees (they planted themselves). They make a great specimen large shrub/small tree all year round, especially for the winter shape. The birds love its fruit, and the fall color is nice too, but not spectacular.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:04AM
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I had a similar question on the shrub forum- what can I plant to replace a burning bush now that I know bb is invasive- and someone recommended Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima'. Since then I have done some research on it and discovered that it will survive in our zone 4 and it is not usually bothered by deer, a big plus for us. You might consider it. The reason I didn't go with serviceberry is that it grows so tall, 15-20'. Did you find a shorter variety or is size not an issue for your application?

Here is a link that might be useful: details on Aronia Red Chokecherry

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:16PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Entling, after reading about Pagoda dogwood I was smitten. Beautiful form and nice flowers and berries. I ordered 40 native seedlings from a nursery in NH, including 10 Cornus alternifolia. But these are going to be little baby 1-2 year old seedlings!

I'm impatient and want to buy something that's already 6 feet tall at least.

Gcreek, height is not so much an issue, but width is (this location is about 8 feet from the driveway). Something that grew about 15-20 ft high would be great but not as wide. Red chokeberry is probably too short and shrubby (but great for the other side of the yard!)

Cornus florida would be beautiful but would probably eventually get too wide.

Amelanchier seems to grow more vertically than laterally. Kind of a rangy multi-stemmed habit, but maybe with good pruning it could be shaped nicely.

I also read that it casts fairly light shade and has well behaved roots and perennials can be planted underneath (which is good because I already have peonies circling this burning bush).

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 10:15PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

The Redbuds are blooming right now and they also make a great small tree for a yard. Mine is too young to bloom yet, I was hoping that this would be the year.

My service berry is already blooming. Its only a shrub right now, I put it in last year. But for such a small guy, he sure puts on a good show.

I put a pagoda dogwood in last year, it has buds on it but hasn't bloomed yet.

You may also want to look at an oakleaf hydragea. It can form a nice large specimen type shrub. It does have beautiful fall color. Prefers a shady moist spot over a dry sunny spot though.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 2:14PM
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susanswoods(Z6 VA)

You asked:
Susanwoods - if you only plant one type of native viburnum, does that mean you won't get berries? I wasn't aware of that.

I'm going to look up a good thread somewhere in the forums on viburnums and berries. You can plant one species, like nudum or dentatum but you need at least two plants with slightly different genetic makeup to get berries. If you plant two individuals grown from seed that will work but if you plant two individuals of the same cloned cultivar, like nudum 'Winterthur' or dentatum 'Blue Muffin', they are genetically identical and won't pollinate each other well. I'll find you the thread.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 1:47PM
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susanswoods(Z6 VA)

Check the link below or search either the shrub or wildlife forum on pollinate viburnum for a wealth of information. There's a fellow called Viburnumvalley who could write a textbook.

Here is a link that might be useful: Viburnums and pollination

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 1:57PM
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txmeggie(z7 DFW)

Rattlebox tree is a good small tree. It is also called scarlett wisteria because of the flowers it produces all summer that resemble wisteria in form. It is growing in the Dallas area, although I lost my one year old in a harsh winter. The seed pods rattle when dry. See here: http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/S/Sesbania_punicea.asp

Here is a link that might be useful: Rattlebox tree

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 12:48PM
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The poster was looking for a native tree, native to the US since the poster is in Massachusetts. Sesbania punicea is not native to the US.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 4:15PM
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