Planting a tree in the city may be somewhat of a gamble because nature has produced few species adapted to urban conditions. Will the tree survive? Will it grow too tall? Will its roots clog storm sewers and drains?
For the past 10 years scientists at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), Wooster, have evaluated more than 140 species of trees to determine their suitability for city planting and have compiled a list of 20 they found most appropriate.
The evaluation observations were made in five urban settings in different parts of Ohio in addition to those at the OARDC campus in Wooster, says Dr. P. C. Kozel, OARDC horticulturist and project leader.
These 20 trees are by no means the only trees that will do well in an urban environment, Kozel said, but they are the best. When purchasing, ask for them by their botanical name because common names can be confusing.
Here is the list, which includes some new superior kinds bred specifically for city planting (the common name is followed by the botanical name in parenthesis):
Bloodgood London Planetree (Platanus acerfolia "Bloodgood") was rated No. 1 at Wooster. It is rapid-growing, tolerates soil compaction, heat and drought as well as severe pruning. It is very resistant to Anthracnose, a fungus disease which causes leaf drop in the spring.
Red Sunset Red Maple (Acer rubrum "Red Sunset") has bright orange-red fall color which occurs before killing frost and lasts for up to 2 weeks. This was found to be the best red maple for urban and suburban planting.
Dwarf Korean' Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana "Fauriei") gets to be 20 feet tall, has excellent white flowers, glossy green foliage and outstanding red color in the fall. It is disease-and insect-free and adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions. Considered very good for urban and suburban landscapes, suitable for planting under overhead structures such as utility lines.
London Planetree (Platanus acerfolia) is a rapid-growing, pyramidal species widely adapted to growing downtown. It is somewhat susceptible to Anthracnose, but much less so than the native sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).
Pallida Common Linden (Tilia europaea "Pallida") appears (in the very short time it has been observed) vigorous, with good crotch development and medium-fine branch texture.
Upright, European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus "Fastigiata") and Columnare European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus "Columnaris") were sixth and seventh in the trees rated. The Upright European Hornbeam eventually assumes a broad vase-shaped habit while Columnare European Hornbeam is much denser, ultimately becoming egg-shaped. Both are insect-and disease-resistant and do well in a wide variety of soil conditions.
Chancellor Littleleaf Linden (Tilia cordata "Chancellor") is quite narrow when young, becoming pyramidat with age, is fast-growing, has good crotch development and a medium branch structure.
Marshall Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica subintegerrima "Marshall Seedless") is a vigorous, upright oval, seedless variety that transplants easily. It is expected to reach 55 to 60 feet at maturity, has bright yellow fall color.Some borer problems have been reported but it has been successfully planted in difficult urban situations.
Greenspire Linden (Tilia cordata "Greenspire"), which has an upright oval form with full, dense, dark green foliage as a young tree, has done very well under difficult conditions in city plantings.