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TREES & Plants

Tree and plant descriptions

  • Staghorn sumac

    Rhus typhina
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: A native plant to the Midwest. Staghorn sumac is often used in mass plantings, for naturalizing, or on steep slopes. Its open habit and hairy stems resemble horns on a male deer, giving staghorn sumac its name. It is one of the last plants to leaf out in the spring with bright green leaves that change to an attractive yellow, orange, and scarlet in fall. Among the most recognizable characteristics are large, upright clusters of fuzzy red fruits that appear above the branches in late summer on female plants. They are highly appealing to birds.
  • Star Magnolia

    Magnolia stellata
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: The star magnolia is a small, compact ornamental tree grown for its early spring flowers. Opening in early spring before the leaves unfurl, the flowers are cluster of white petals sometimes touched with pink. Because they bloom so early, they are vulnerable to damage by late spring frosts in the Midwest. Star magnolia is best planted in a sheltered location such as patio, near an entryway or in a shrub border.
  • Sugar maple

    Acer saccharum
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Sugar maple is a Midwest native loved for its exceptional fall color ranging from brilliant yellow to burnt-orange. It is a great tree for the backyard, but does poorly along streets. Black maple (Acer nigrum), once considered a separate species, is now included as a subspecies of Sugar maple.
  • Summersweet clethra

    Clethra alnifolia
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: A wide variety of butterflies and songbirds are attracted to summersweet clethra for its nectar and seeds. Native to the eastern United States, it has lustrous green leaves in the spring, spiky white or pink fragrant flowers during the summer, golden yellow leaves in the fall, and interesting, delicate dried seed capsules in winter to provide exceptional four-season interest.
  • Swamp Chestnut Oak

    Quercus michauxii
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Swamp chestnut oak may be difficult to find in commercial nurseries, but it may be worth looking for. This species provides dense shade and good red fall color. It may be useful as a parkway tree or as a shade tree is residential yards.
  • Swamp Milkweed

    Asclepias incarnata
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Swamp milkweed is an erect, clump-forming, native plant commonly found in swamps and wet meadows. An essential plant for wet areas. The pinkish white flowers are a prime source of nectar for many butterflies.
  • Swamp white oak

    Quercus bicolor
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Swamp white oak is a striking tree with attractive peeling bark, especially on young trees. The lustrous, lobed leaves have a two-tone appearance, dark green on top with a silvery-white underside. Fall color is an orangish-gold to yellow in mid-autumn. An excellent shade tree for any landscape.
  • Sweet Birch

    Betula lenta
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: The shiny, red-brown bark and yellow fall color of sweet birch make it an attractive medium-sized tree for lawns and naturalized areas.
  • Sweet-Fern

    Comptonia peregrina
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Sweet-fern is a colony-forming, small shrub with wonderfully aromatic fern-like leaves. This shrub is a useful selection in the landscape for erosion control and naturalizing, due to its tolerance of adverse conditions. It is adaptable to poor, infertile soil and is also drought, salt, and heat resistant.
  • Sweet-gum

    Liquidambar styraciflua
    Plant advice from The Morton Arboretum: Known for its unique star-shaped leaves with outstanding yellow, red, and purple fall color, sweet-gum can be an excellent shade tree in the right location, away from foot traffic where the spiky "gumball" fruits will not be an annoyance.