A Selection of Native Virginia Trees

American beech. In its mature form, the American beech has smooth gray bark and a large spread of tapered-teardrop leaves. The landscape variety is resistant to the beech bark disease that is problematic in the forest-dwelling type of beech. As the tree grows to a large size, it is suitable for larger lot spaces, and the tree should not be planted in compacted soil or areas that remain wet. The root system is shallow, so it can be difficult to get grass to grow up to the base of the tree.

Sweetgum. The sweetgum tree produces a bright dramatic show of fall foliage in a mixture of yellows, oranges, purples, and reds, and therefore it is a wonderful choice for lot areas a homeowner might want to highlight. The tree requires moist soil, a deep planting, and plenty of room for root development. While the sweetgum is vulnerable to a particular tree fungus, this is usually only seen in trees that are stressed from not being planted in proper conditions. A well-cared-for sweetgum remains healthy and problem-free.

Sweetbay magnolia. Among its elongated, deep green leaves, the sweetbay magnolia produces large, creamy blossoms from May to June, and the flowers emanate a lemony fragrance. The tree grows very well in wet areas and is tolerant of shade, but as with most magnolia varieties, the sweetbay requires protection from high winds in winter to prevent leaf scorch.

Sourwood. Contrary to its name, the sourwood tree can make a very sweet picture in a home’s landscape. The tree is usually small, with medium green leaves that turn fiery red-orange in the fall. Sourwood trees prefer an acidic soil that is moist and in a well-draining area and, while somewhat sensitive to drought, prefer full to partial sun.

A tree service with a certified arborist on staff can introduce a homeowner to these and many other varieties of native Virginia trees. In addition to beautifying a residential landscape, native trees may require less water and fewer chemicals to achieve health and beauty for the tree, thereby conserving resources.