Most Common Types of Trees

Planting a tree is a rewarding experience, and all tree planters begin their experience with the same question. “What type of tree or shrubs should I get from the nursery for planting?”

Unfortunately, when you plant a tree, it is not guaranteed to survive, but a little planning can substantially increase its chances. Doing proper research and planning could be the difference between a lush, healthy landscape design or an awkwardly creepy stick casting a lifeless shadow over your walkway. But nobody wants to be planning all day, so let’s make it easy on ourselves.

This article highlights the 15 most common trees. The species described here are proven to thrive in a wide variety of climates. So if you’re trying to avoid the disappointment of an unsuccessful tree planting chose a species from this quick tree guide. Your tree will be more likely to survive, and your farming experience will be a success.

1. American Elm (Ulmus Americana):
The recognizable vase-shaped form makes this tree perfect for planting on boulevards to keep the city streets cool. If you’re planting this tree in your yard, choose a wide open space because the American Elm can get gigantic and reach a height of 120 feet. It can live for hundreds of years and survive in winter temperatures as cold as -42 C.

2. Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea Pungens):
This tree naturally grows near streams and has been known to suck up extremely large amounts of water from the surrounding soil. It can get up to 100 feet tall with adamant and prickly needles. Not the type of tree you want to run accidentally into in the dark.

3. Apple Tree (Malus Domestica):
There is nothing like the rewards of a perennial with white or pink flowers every spring and a bountiful harvest in the fall. At least one in every back yard it seems, the Apple tree has become quite popular in the Edmonton area. This tree usually does not grow taller than 30 feet and is considered to be one of the smaller tree species for planting in Edmonton.

4. Common Chokecherry (Prunus Virginiana):
Chokecherry and Mayday Trees are closely related, and the characteristics described here are the same for both. Grows to about 25 feet in height with white flowers in the spring and dark, bitter cherries in the fall. After planting, this particular species may begin to show symptoms of Black Knot Disease (dark, swollen sections of young branches or the splitting and sharing of larger limbs). Regular removal of swollen branches can slow the progression of the symptoms.

5. Boxelder Maple (Acer Negundo):
A large tree species more commonly known as Manitoba Maple, a typical Boxelder Maple will reach a height up to 70 feet. Often, Edmonton homeowners will find random new saplings of these quick growing trees sprouting up in their landscapes without planting. Random sprouts or regrowth often happen because of the Maple seed’s ability to travel easily on wind currents and self-germinate great distances from the original Mother tree.

6. Poplar (Populus):

More specifically the Trembling Aspen (Populus Tremulous) and Lombardy Poplar (Populus Nigra). Large and Very quick growing trees that can reach up to 80 feet in height. Planting Poplars is an easy way to quickly develop a wind break or privacy wall in your landscape design. Most popular species produce a white fuzz in the late spring that can easily cover the immediate area around the tree.

7. Grey Birch (Betula Populifolia):
Planting is the most likely way a Birch would appear in your landscape as they prefer densely forested areas to germinate on their own. It’s brilliantly white bark contrasts against other tree species during the summer months making the Grey Birch stand out in a crowd. Birch trees in Edmonton usually live about 30 – 40 years and grow to a height of 40 feet.

8. Oriental Cedar (Thuja Orientalis) & Juniper (Juniperus):
Available as Although very similar in appearance, Junipers are a much darker green than Cedar trees. As one of the smallest of the common trees in Edmonton Cedars can go anywhere, a small touch of year-round green is needed in your garden and landscape design. Planting cedar trees in a row create a long-lasting privacy wall that will grow much slower than the Lombardy Poplar.

9. American Mountain-Ash (Sorbus Americana):
A small to the midsized tree with a mature height of around 30 feet. Well known for producing large clumps of bright, red berries that are popular among birds but not recommended for human consumption.

10. Mugo Pine (Pinus Mugo):
After planting, these shrubs will grow to a height of 15 feet. Planting them in the center of garden beds with flowers all around is a common practice in Edmonton. However, if they are not regularly pruned back, they will grow wider and can overtake the smaller plants and shrubs around them.

11. Jack Pine (Pinus Banksiana):
As a coniferous tree, it does not lose it’s needles during winter months and maintains a full body of green needles much like the Spruce tree, but it’s needles are much softer. A slow growing tree but many years after planting can reach anywhere from 60 – 80 feet tall. The most well-known features of the Jack Pine is it’s perfectly straight main stem and tightly compact cones that curl near the ends. Slightly less common than the Jack Pine is the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus Ponderosa).

12. Red Willow (Salix Laevigata):
This midsized tree grows to a height of about 45 feet. Known for it’s slender, weak branches, owners of a Red Willow tree will have to pick up many small branches that break off and fall to the ground throughout the summer season. Although some cleanup is required, the beauty of the Willow tree is well worth the effort.

13. Green Ash (Fraxinus Pennsylvanica):

A large deciduous tree that reaches heights up to 75 feet tall with strong, stiff branches that make up the canopy. One drawback to planting a Green Ash is they are commonly invaded by caterpillars that cause the leaves to curl up into a taco shape. Caterpillars that cause tree leaves to roll up are more well known as “Leafrollers.”

14. Alder (Alnus):

Quick growing trees that reach heights anywhere from 30 to 60 feet tall. However, few trees live long enough to get very tall. Alder trees have a unique appearance as they produce hanging, tassel-like staminate flowers and conelike strobiles.

15. White Oak (Quercus Alba):

Mature trees have a wide spreading crown and can be 80 – 100 feet tall with a life span of over 600 years. Unique features of the White Oak are it’s oblong acorns and leaves with rounded lobes.