Five Great Native Flowering Trees for the Mid-Atlantic

When searching for flowering trees most homeowners consider the value of the flower to be of primary importance. Unfortunately, most flowering trees only flower for a few weeks. When considering a tree for your garden it is important to look for a tree that will at very least provide three seasons of interest. Fall color, foliage during the summer, and winter habit are as important if not more important than what the tree looks like when it is flowering.

Oxydendrum arboreum – Sourwood: If you’re looking for a tree with great flowers, fall color and an interesting habit then consider the sourwood. In this part of the mid-atlantic the tree reaches twenty to thirty feet in height. Sprays of white flowers droop in mid summer followed by a brilliant red fall color which is made more impressive by the contrast of the white seed heads of the flowers. The seed heads give the tree the appearance of a second flowering. Zones 5-8.

Chinanthus virginicus – Fringetree:The primary attraction of this 15-20 ft., deciduoustree or shrub is the drooping clusters of fragrant, white blossoms. Dark-blue, grape-like clusters of fruits are produced from female blossoms. A flurry of delicate fringelike, fragrant, white-to-greenish-white flowers cover the tree before the foliage emerges. They hang in showy, branched clusters 4–6 inches long. Other features are dark-green, glossy foliage with respectable yellow autumn color and a pale-gray trunk with bands of white. Zones 6-8.

Asimina triloba – Pawpaw: The name alone makes this tree interesting. If you have a moist area on your property it may be worthwhile seeking out the Pawpaw. With purple flowers and a tropical appearance the Pawpaw grows to a height of 15-30′ high, occasionally to 40′. In the fall the leaves turn yellow. The pawpaw fruit has a tropical like flavor that resembles a combination of banana, mango, and pineapple. Zones 3-8.

Amelanchier canadensis – Juneberry: Typically multi stemmed with lacy white flowers in late April to early May in my Lancaster County, Pa.  garden. The flowers are followed by blue fruit that can be used to make a delicious pie. During autumn the leaves turn various shades of orange, yellow and occasionally red. Juneberry looks great when planted in a grove. Zones 4-7.

Magnolia virginiana – Sweet bay Magnolia: The Sweet bay has been my favorite flowering tree since I started designing landscapes 20 years ago. Usually multi stemmed in appearance, the Sweet bay has glossy oblong leaves up to 5″ long with a silvery underside that flashes it’s color in a breeze. Unlike a number of introduced Magnolias the Sweet bay does not flower prolifically, but rather a respectable bloom in late May through June is followed by sporadic flowering throughout the summer. The flowers are very fragrant and have a water lily like shape. In the fall an interesting cucumber like pod eventually opens to reveal the red fruit contained within. The tree enjoys moist areas but adapts just fine to drier areas. Will grow fairly well in part shade to full sun. Zones 5-9.