As you enjoy your crisp fall nature walks around the Twin Cities’ plentiful lakes, trails and paths, pay close attention to the various types of trees you see. Minnesota is home to 52 native tree species. You’ll notice different tree species depending on which part of the state you’re in. We’ve focused this blog post on the common, popular trees you’ll see throughout the Twin Cities metro area.
Two Tree Types: Coniferous and Deciduous
As a reminder, there are two types of trees – coniferous and deciduous. We are lucky to have an environment that supports both of these types of trees around Minnesota.
Coniferous trees bear their seeds in woody cones and have very narrow or overlapping leaves. All of our coniferous trees (except Eastern Larch) are evergreen, meaning they maintain their leaves throughout the year.
Deciduous trees do not bear their seeds in cones. They have broad leaves that drop in autumn.
Popular Twin Cities Trees
Red Maple trees are a medium-sized shade tree, with an average height of 40’ to 65’, and a diameter of 10” to 24”. The bark is a smooth, light gray on young stems and dark gray and rough on old limbs and trunk. Old bark is divided by shallow, flaky ridges at the surface, making the tree look shaggy. The leaves are simple with a length of 2″ to 4″ and three- to five-pointed saw toothed lobes separated by sharp angular openings. The upper surface is light green when mature; lower surface is whitish and partly covered with pale down. It is the first of the maples to turn brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn. Winter buds are small, red and somewhat rounded.
Sugar Maple trees grow to be 80’ or more, with a diameter of up to 24” or more. They have a symmetrically rounded crown. On young trees, limbs are light gray to brown and somewhat smooth; on older trees they are gray to almost black with irregular plates or scales. Twigs are smooth and reddish brown with sharp-pointed winter buds. The leaves are 3″ to 5″ with three- to five-pointed, smooth-edged lobes with rounded lobes creating division. They are dark green on the upper surface and lighter green below. In autumn, sugar maples turn brilliant shades of dark red, scarlet, orange and yellow.
White Oak trees grow to be 60’ to 80’ with a diameter of 24” to 36”, although they can grow larger. They are tall and narrow-crowned in the forest; short and crowned by a broad, rounded top with limbs spreading irregularly in the open. The bark is pale gray with scaly ridges and shallow fissures. The leaves are simple and alternate on the stem. The length is 5″ to 9″. They are deeply divided into five to nine fingerlike lobes. The young leaf is yellow or red while unfolding, later becoming light green above and much paler below. Leaves red or brown in autumn and sometimes remain on tree most of the winter.
White Ash trees are large, with an average height of 50’ to 80’ and a diameter of up to 24”. The bark is dark and smooth on young twigs and branches and greenish-brown on older trees. Narrow ridges are separated with marked regularities by deep diamond-shaped fissures. The leaves are opposite on stem, ranging in length from 8” to 12” long and resemble a canoe paddle blade with a seed toward the “handle.” The seeds mature in autumn and are distributed effectively by the wind.
Hackberry trees range in height from 40’ to 75’ with a diameter of 10” to 36”. The limbs are often crooked and angular. The tree head is made up of slender, hanging branches or short, bristly, stubby twigs when grown in the forest. The leaves are simple and alternate on stem with a length of 2″ to 4″. They have long, narrow, tapering points and sharply toothed margins that are uneven at the base with prominent veins. The Hackberry turns yellow in autumn.
Yellow Birch trees are large with a height of 60′ to 70′ and diameter of 24″ to 36″. In the open, trunks are usually short and divide into numerous large ascending limbs that form a broad open head. Under forest conditions, trunks are tall and clear of limbs. The bark is yellow gray or straw color, peeling freely into thin papery layers that produce a ragged appearance on the main stem and lower branches. Twigs are light brown, lustrous and slightly aromatic with oil of wintergreen. The leaves are simple and alternate on stem with a length of 3″ to 5″. They are oval to oblong, deeply and finely toothed with a dull dark green on upper surface and paler beneath. The yellow birch turns bright yellow in autumn.
Eastern White Pine is a deciduous tree that grows to be 80’ to 100’ and up to 42” in diameter. They have a straight trunk and regular pyramidal shape with soft gray-green foliage. They are clear of branches for many feet when growing in the forest. On young trees, branches extend horizontally in whorls (circle arrangements), marking successive years of upward growth. The bark is thin, smooth and greenish gray on young trees, but thick, deeply furrowed and grayish brown on older trees.
Different trees thrive under different conditions. When planting trees, Ostvig Tree Care can help choose the correct species for your landscape. Contact us today!