What are the three most popular ornamental trees in the Twin Cities? Let our Minnesota tree experts tell you.
One of the most popular landscape trees in the Twin Cities is the maple tree. It is prized for its beautiful fall foliage colors and its sap which is used to make syrup. There are many different species of maple trees. All have a few common characteristics that make them stand out from other types of trees.
Fall Leaf Colors
Maple trees are probably best known for their brilliant fall leaf colors, although the exact colors vary between the species. Maple tree leaves change to shades of yellow, orange and red in the fall season. The silver maple has yellow and brown fall leaf colors, while the red maple has, of course, bright-red leaves in autumn. The sugar maple has yellow, orange and reddish leaves in fall.
Size and Shape
Maple trees usually reach heights of 50 to 75 feet at maturity. Maple trees have spreading crowns with horizontal branch formations, and develop a compact and rounded canopy. The sugar maple sometimes develops a slightly conical form, while the red maple has a pyramidal crown with ascending branches when it’s young and develops a more rounded canopy as it matures.
Maple trees generally have smooth, grayish-brown bark when they’re young. As maple trees age, they develop brownish, rough and sometimes corky bark on their trunks that usually splits into ridges and furrows. Maple trees have twigs that are slender and shiny.
Oak trees are beautiful and unique, providing shade for people and food for hundreds of varieties of insects and animals. They are tall, magnificent and very colorful in the autumn months. Oaks are long-lived, resulting in generations of families living among the same oak trees down through the centuries. Oaks are a brilliant and wide-spread member of the beech family.
Leaves and Fall Leaf Colors
Oak leaves are long and oval in shape with multiple lobes, making them very interesting in appearance. The leaves, depending on the type of oak, will turn brilliant shades of orange, red, yellow or brown in the late autumn months. Oaks often retain their fall leaves throughout the winter.
Oak trees grow wide-spread branches, culminating in twisting smaller branches that seem to be trying to go in every direction at once. These branches extend far out beyond the tree’s center and in some cases can make the tree look as wide as it is tall, if not wider. Oak trees are excellent shade trees for this reason. These trees, when growing alone, tend to be shorter, but in a forest with other oaks, they grow taller.
The oak’s bark takes on a life of its own as it ages. While younger oaks feature a dark brown, gray or black bark, older trees turn gray, brown and black. In addition, as the tree matures it may develop deep furrows or develop scaly ridges.
The fruit of the oak tree is the acorn. The light to dark brown, bitter-tasting nut seldom grows beyond an inch and can be found attached to the tree by singly or in clusters of as many as five nuts.
Crab Apple Trees
Crabapple trees enhance the aesthetics of lawns with their attractive foliage and fragrant blossoms. Depending on their variety, the small to medium-sized trees also can be a source of edible fruit. The deciduous trees belong to the Malus genus, along with apples. Fruit of some species is too sour or bitter to eat but still useful for making jelly and preserves.
Fruit and Foliage
Crabapple fruit is green or red. Some species and cultivars (plant variety) have orange and pink blushes. The small fruits are two inches or less in diameter, and the tree leaves are shorter and narrower than those of apple trees. If not picked, some crabapples stay on the trees and retain their vibrant colors throughout winter, providing a colorful contrast to the starkness of other plants during the season and providing food for birds and wildlife. The blossoms are normally brilliant and appear in the spring with single, double or semi-double flowers. The colors depending on the species will range from white, pink and red.