Lake Barcroft  
 
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Large Native Trees Recommended for Lake Barcroft

by Betsy Washington

Species

Characteristics

Ornamental Traits

Wildlife

Tolerance

Betula nigra
River Birch

Fast growing, often multiple trunks, light airy canopy allows grass beneath

Very showy creamy to salmon peeling bark, yellow fall color

Wildlife, easy to transplant, loves wet to regular soils, can plant very close together in small groves

Adaptable but prefers moist soils near lake; tolerates dry sites

Liriodendron tulipifera
Tulip poplar

Fast growing, tall straight trunks, stately

Fragrant flowers in May
Yellow Fall color

Butterfly host tree, songbirds

Prefers moist slopes, occurs throughout Lake Barcroft

Quercus alba
White Oak

Slow to moderate growth
Majestic, spreading, very long
lived

Orange to Burgundy fall color

Supports more wildlife (songbirds, butterflies, mammals) than all other trees
Tolerates wet or dry soil

Very adaptable, very common in Lake Barcroft in both dry and moist sites

Quercus rubra
Northern Red Oak

Fast growing, tall trunk, widespreading crown

Red fall color, acorns

Supports lots of wildlife, good urban or street tree

Adaptable, widespread in Lake Barcroft

Quercus coccineus,
Scarlet Oak

Moderate growing, tall trunk, rounded crown

Scarlet fall color, acorns

Wildlife, good urban or street tree, tolerates dry hillsides

Tolerant of dry and steep slopes

Quercus phellos
Willow Oak

 

 

Fast growing, large oak
with spreading habit

Small willow-like leaves
Bronze fall color

High wildlife value, tolerates flooding or dry urban soils. Easy to transplant. Readily available.

Prefers moist sites but very adaptable, urban tolerant

*Quercus prinus
Chestnut Oak

Moderate growing, tall, spreading crown

Chestnut fall color, acorns

Wildlife, taproot best to plant small size, tolerates dry hillsides, specialty nurseries

Often found on dry, challenging steep slopes & ridges

*Quercus stellata
Post Oak

Slow to moderate growing
Mid sized tree

Waxy dark green leaves, small acorns

Wildlife, extremely drought tolerant, taproot, plant small
Specialty nurseries

Found of tough, dry sites, very tolerant of difficult sites

*Carya glabra
Pignut Hickory

Slow to moderate growing, strong wood, tall trunk with narrow crown

Glowing yellow fall color
Large hickory nuts, bitter
Long lived and strong wood

Wildlife, taproot requires planting at small size,
Specialty nurseries

Very adaptable, found throughout Lake Barcroft on dry and moist sites

*Carya ovata
Shagbark Hickory

Slow to moderate growing, strong wood, tall trunk with narrow
crown

Glowing yellow fall color
Large hickory nuts, sweet, edible
Showy, shaggy bark
Very long lived and strong

Wildlife including small mammals, butterflies and other insects, birds, taproot requires planting at small size,
Specialty nurseries

Prefers moist slopes and sites but adaptable

Platanus occidentalis
American Sycamore

Fast growth. Massive, tall strong trunk and spreading branches

Fabulous exfoliating creamy white bark,  large lobed leaves

Supports songbirds and wildlife, tolerates flooding , lakeshores.
Adaptable.

Adaptable, usually found along streams, lakeside

Liquidambar styraciflua
Sweetgum

 

 

Medium growth, upright, irregular habit, great texture

Star shaped leaves, turn vivid colors in fall, prickly sweetgum balls or fruit

Supports songbirds, waterfowl, and small mammals, tolerates floodplains as well as upland slopes, tough and adaptable

 

Nyssa sylvatica
Black Gum

Moderate growing
Artistic habit, pendulous lower branches

Fiery orange to red fall color, small blue fruit attracts many songbirds in fall

Wildlife, taproot, plant small or from large container, street tree, wet or drought tolerant

Widespread through Lake Barcroft on both dry slopes and moist lakeside sites

Betula nigra
River Birch

Fast growing, often multiple trunks, light airy canopy allows grass beneath

Very showy creamy to salmon peeling bark, yellow fall color

Wildlife, easy to transplant, loves wet to regular soils, can plant very close together in small groves

Adaptable but prefers moist soils near lake; tolerates dry sites

Diospyros virginiana

Common Persimmon

Family: Ebenaceae

 

Medium to large tree with slender oval crown; can sucker into colonies

Attractive, edible fruit in fall is pale orange, becomes sweeter after first frost.  Must have male and female trees for fruit.

Attracts wildlife such as foxes, raccoons, opossums.

Taproot can make it harder to transplant - plant small, very tough tree for dry, poor soils, along Holmes Run, best in sunny sites

Fagus grandifolia

American Beech

Family: Fagaceae 

 

Slow growing, shade tolerant tree that eventually becomes massive and widespreading

Beautiful smooth, silvery bark, fine textured branching, majestic, with 4 season appeal

Beechnuts attract a variety of songbirds and wildlife

Extremely shade tolerant.  Does not tolerate compacted soils or root disturbance. Wonderful for a wooded area and can function as an understory tree for many years.

 * May need to seek out at specialty native plant nurseries

A few Local Native Plant Sources:
Park Fairfax Native Plant Sale, April 24, 2010, 9am – 2pm, 3601 Valley Drive, Alexandria, great sale with 14 vendors from several states

Green Spring Garden Day, May 15, 2010, 9am – 3pm, Witchhazel Drive, Alexandria, many vendors

Nature by Design, 300 Calvert Ave, Alexandria; www.nature-by-design.com

Lower Marlboro Nursery, Dunkirk, MD; www.lowermarlboronursery.com

For an online list of more nurseries selling native plants from the Virginia Native Plant Society
http://www.vnps.org/growing.html