The Morton Arboretum logo

TREES & plants

Tree and plant descriptions

  • Common buckthorn (Not recommended)

    Rhamnus cathartica
    Common buckthorn is an invasive plant in Illinois and should not be planted. It forms dense thickets and reproduces very freely, crowding out other plants and disrupting ecosystems in forest preserves and other natural areas. In woodlands it can completely replace existing understory plants, including native wildflowers.
  • Common Chokecherry

    Prunus virginiana
    A large deciduous shrub or small, 20 feet high, understory tree often forming a dense colony. Slender twigs form a oval to rounded crown. Clusters of drooping white flowers are followed by dark purple fruit. Native throughout most of the U.S. but difficult to find in the nursery trade.Susceptible to many insect and disease problems.
  • Common Flowering Quince

    Chaenomeles speciosa
    A tall, deciduous shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high. Shiny, dark green leaves appear before the scarlet-red flowers emerge in spring. Dense tangles of stems have spiny thorns, best used as a hedge, back of the border or in mass. Edible fruit is used to make jam and jellies.
  • Common Juniper

    Juniperus communis
    The common juniper may be a shrub or small tree. This is one of the most commonly found junipers throughout the world. Typically in dry, rocky, wooded hillsides or exposed slopes. The oil from the fleshy cones is used as flavoring and to make gin.
  • Common lilac

    Syringa vulgaris
    The common lilac is an old-fashioned, long-lived, and well-loved lilac best known for its fragrant flowers. It is extremely hardy and thrives with little care which make it a lovely shrub for a specimen planting, in masses, screens, hedges, or mixed in shrub borders.
  • Common Milkweed

    Asclepias syriaca
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Common milkweed is a butterfly magnet and an important plant for the monarch butterfly eggs and larvae. This aggressive spreader reaches 3 to 5 feet tall and will grow in thickets, woodland borders, fields, fence rows, and areas along railroads and roadsides.
  • Common ninebark

    Physocarpus opulifolius
    Ninebark is a cold hardy, tough native shrub for mixed borders. Pinkish-white flower clusters in late spring, persistent seed capsules and exfoliating bark add to seasonal interest. Foliage of cultivars vary in size and color from purple to lime green.
  • Common winterberry

    Ilex verticillata
    The bright red persistent fruits of common winterberry glow in the winter landscape. This deciduous species of holly, native to the eastern US and Canada, is a dense, multi-branched shrub. The summer foliage is glossy dark green turning yellow in fall. An excellent choice for wet sites, naturalized area or in the shrub border. Both male and female plants are needed for fruit.
  • Common witch-hazel

    Hamamelis virginiana
    The yellow, strap-like flowers of this native shrub are among the last blooms to appear in fall, but are often hidden by the leaves. Common witch-hazel is a large shrub with a picturesque irregular branching habit that naturally grows along woodland edges. The large, rounded, dark green leaves often hang onto the winter branches. The fruit capsules mature a year after flowering, splitting open to expel seeds that are attractive to birds. Tolerant of road salt and clay soil, this is a great specimen plant, or for naturalized landscape.