TREES & plants

Tree and plant descriptions

  • Big-leaved hydrangea

    Hydrangea macrophylla
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Big-leaved hydrangeas are beloved for their showy flowers. However, these small shrubs from Japan are generally not hardy as far north as Chicago. Cold winters in Zone 5 and colder usually kill their flower buds, which are set on the previous year's growth in most selections. In recent years, some cultivated varieties have been developed that are somewhat hardier, although they will do better in areas where they have the insulating protecting of reliable snow cover. Blue flowers are one of the plant's appeals, but big-leaved hydrangeas only have blue flowers when planted in acid soils. In alkaline soils, such as those in most of the Chicago region and the Great Plains, the flowers will be pink.
  • Big-leaved Linden

    Tilia platyphyllos
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Like other lindens, big-leaved linden produces clusters of very fragrant flowers in early summer. It has an attractive form and can be used as a street tree.
  • Bitternut Hickory

    Carya cordiformis
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Bitternut hickory is a large north American native tree, best reserved for larger landscapes. Like all hickories, debris from its fruit drops from late summer throughout autumn, making fall cleanup in urban areas more challenging.
  • Black Chokeberry

    Aronia melanocarpa
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black chokeberry is a dependable small to medium sized shrub with upright, mounded habit. Small clusters of white flowers in spring are followed by glossy black fruit. Dark green foliage turns reddish-purple in the fall.
  • Black jetbead

    Rhodotypos scandens
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Whether planted in sun, or heavy shade, the black jetbead will prosper, making it a great shrub for shady sites, as a specimen or border plant. Showy white flowers, crisp green foliage, and black fruit clusters make this shrub distinct throughout the growing season.
  • Black oak

    Quercus velutina
    Plant Advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black oak, a native of the Chicago region, could be used as a parkway or street tree. Fall color is yellow to yellow-brown. This species is not offered in commerce as often as other oak species.
  • Black spruce

    Picea mariana
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black spruce is a small, narrow evergreen tree with a spire-like crown. It has descending branches, with dark, bluish-green needles, and upturned ends. Lower limbs sweep the ground. It is an excellent choice for cold northern climates and tolerant of wet sites.
  • Black walnut

    Juglans nigra
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: The black walnut is a Chicago-area native tree that provides excellent shade for large properties. It needs to be sited with care, since the tree produces a chemical that is toxic to some other plants.
  • Black-haw

    Viburnum prunifolium
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Black-haw is a native viburnum that can be a large shrub or a small tree. It is a multi-season plant, offering white flowers in spring, and fruits and good color in autumn.
  • Blood-twigged dogwood

    Cornus sanguinea
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Blood-twigged dogwood is a medium-sized shrub, popular mainly for its straight stems and branches, which turn a mix of green and red in winter. It has flat-topped fluffy clusters of white flowers, more smelly than fragrant, in late summer, followed by small black fruit.