Learn about your tree!

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

We offered over 15 different tree species as part of Plant a Tree for Tennessee on April 24. Now that you have planted your trees, you may have questions about what to expect as your trees mature and how best to care for them. (If you didn't plant trees with us and want to plant trees in the future - click here.) We will be adding to this post in the coming weeks, so please check back.

(Image courtesy: Tennessee Environmental Council)

American/Eastern Redbud

  • Cercis canadensis

  • Grows to 20-30’ tall

  • Prefers well-draining soils and direct sunlight for at least 4 hours/day, but can thrive in other soils as well

  • Known for its pink flowers that bloom in April and its elegant, umbrella-like crown

  • Wildlife value:

  • Blossoms attract pollinators like butterflies

  • Songbirds feed on its seeds

  • Other birds and animals use it for nesting and shelter

  • Did you know?

  • It’s the state tree of Oklahoma

  • Its blossoms are edible and are technically in the legume family

  • This is one of the trees we will be planting in highway interchanges

(Image courtesy: Tennessee Environmental Council)

Bald Cypress

  • Taxodium distichum

  • Bald cypresses are most known for their ability to grow in swampy conditions. Their knobby roots, or “knees,” emerge when the roots are submerged in water.

  • Their leaves spread and grow to create a canopy that blocks sunlight from reaching the understory

  • Wildlife value:

  • In swampy environments, bald cypresses play an important role in the ecosystem.

  • Amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, use the trees as a breeding ground.

  • Raptors and bald eagles nest in the trees’ canopies.

  • Did you know?

  • Bald cypresses are the state tree of Louisiana

  • John Muir, the co-founder of the Sierra Club, wrote about bald cypress trees in the book Thousand-Mile Walk

  • In conducive conditions, bald cypress trees can live for over 600 years

(Image courtesy: Tennessee Environmental Council)

Button Bush

  • Cephalanthus occidentalis

  • Typically grows to be 6-8’ tall

  • A hardy shrub that is found in a variety of climates across the U.S.

  • Wildlife value:

  • Known for its ecological value and functionality; it serves as a food source for many pollinating insects and hummingbirds, and it can be used to restore wetlands/riparian zones

  • Flowers in June-August

  • Prefers full sun/partial shade and moist soil

  • Did you know? It produces ‘nutlets’ that can attracted 24 different species of birds in some regions

(Image courtesy: Tennessee Environmental Council)


  • Sambucus canadensis

  • Depending on the subspecies, elderberry trees grow anywhere from 15’ to 30’

  • They grow quickly in full to partial sunlight and moist soils

  • You can recognize an elderberry by its white blooms in June and July, or by its black berry clusters in August and September

  • Wildlife value:

  • Elderberries attract many pollinators like butterflies, bees, birds, and moths

  • Did you know?

  • Rather than having one single trunk, elderberries have many “canes” (multiple woody stems). You can tell the age of an elderberry by counting the number of canes

  • Elderberries are high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and fiber

Paw Paw

  • Asimina triloba

  • Pawpaws are hardy, deciduous perennials. They are typically understory trees and do not usually grow to be taller than 30’.

  • Pawpaw trees typically grow in thickets along waterways in moist, well-draining soils

  • The trees are known for their fruits, which ripen in late summer and fall

  • Wildlife value:

  • Possums, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, and birds all feed on pawpaw fruit

  • These trees are deer-resistant

  • Did you know?

  • Pawpaw trees produce the largest edible fruit in North America. Their fruit looks like a small, green potato, but it’s taste is comparable to a banana or a mango.

Red Mulberry

  • Morus rubra

  • Red mulberry trees can grow up to 30’, and they grow best in full sunlight and moist, well-draining soils

  • They can be identified by their heart-shaped leaf patterns with 1, 2, or 3 lobes

  • Wildlife value:

  • Red mulberries attract bees and butterflies, as well as Morning Cloak larvae

  • Songbirds feed on the berries and scatter seedlings around the state in their droppings

  • Did you know?

  • Ripe red mulberries are edible to humans and taste similar to raspberries. However, red mulberries can be poisonous to humans if they are eaten when they are unripe, and the milky sap that the trees ooze is also poisonous to humans.


  • Platanus occidentalis

  • It may also be called an American, Eastern Sycamore, Plane Tree, Buttonwood, or a Buttonball Tree

  • They can grow in almost any soil, but they prefer moist, well-draining soil

  • It’s known for the camouflage, patchy, grey-white pattern on its trunk and branches

  • Wildlife value:

  • It attracts native bird species

  • It is highly deer resistant

  • Did you know?

  • It’s the largest deciduous tree in the eastern U.S., and it can grow to be up to 100’ tall

  • The sycamore’s trunk can grow to a larger diameter than any other native hardwood; the current largest tree has a trunk that’s 11’ in diameter

(Image courtesy: Tennessee Environmental Council)

Tulip Poplar

  • Liriodendron tulipifera

  • One of the largest tree species in North America; it can grow up to 150’ tall, but generally grows to be 70-90’ tall.

  • Prefers well-draining soils and direct sunlight for at least 6 hours/day

  • Known for its distinct yellow, tulip-shaped flowers that bloom in May-June

  • Wildlife value:

  • Hummingbirds feed on the flowers’ nectar

  • Provides food and shade for white-tailed deer, rabbits, cardinals, squirrels, and more

  • Did you know?

  • George Washington planted tulip poplars at his home, Mount Vernon, in 1785 that are still standing today.

Witch Hazel

  • Hamamelis virginiana

  • Grows 15-30’ tall

  • It can grow in a variety of soils with varying moisture conditions

  • It’s fragrant, bright yellow flowers bloom from October to November

  • Wildlife value:

  • It’s pollinated by noctuid moths

  • It also attracts butterflies, other pollinators, and nesting birds

  • Did you know?

  • Witch hazel dried leaf, bark and twigs contain chemicals called tannins. When applied to the skin, witch hazel may help fight bacteria, repair skin abrasions, and reduce swelling.

  • It grows in an irregular, circular shape

  • It’s the source of many legends, and it likely got its name from early Europeans who witnessed Native Americans using the tree’s branches to search for underground sources of water

Coming Soon: We'll share more information on Holly, Wild Plum, False Indigo, Sweetgum, and Native Sweet Pecan . In the meantime, feel free to look for your tree on the Plant a Tree for Tennessee page, or How to Plant and Care for Your Tree. Both pages include limited information for each species.

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