Which of these trees have pretty flowers in the spring?
April 16, 2021 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Do you know a lot about flowering trees? Can you tell me which species have traditionally pretty flowers in the spring? Northeastern US (New England).

This is for a data project I'm doing as part of a class I'm taking for fun at the library, if you're curious. I found out that my city maps every tree (amazing!), and for my final project I want to map the neighborhoods in my city that will have the most flowering ornamental trees in the spring.

The list of trees is as follows (I converted the most common ones from latin names into common names. I only broke it down to the genus level, because at the species level it was completely unmanageable):
Maple
Aesculus
Ailanthus
Alnus
Amelanchier
Betula
Carpinus
Carya
Catalpa
Cedrus
Hackberry
Cercidiphyllum
Cercis
Chionanthus
Cladrastis
Dogwood
Corylus
Hawthorn
Empty
Eucommia
Fagus
Ash
Ginkgo
Honey Locust
Gymnocladus
Halesia
Hamamelis
Hibiscus
Ilex
Juglans
Juniperus
Koelrenteria
Sweet Gum
Liriodendron
Maacki
Magnolia
Crab Apple
Metasequoia
Morus
Nyssa
Ostrya
Other
Oxydendrum
Parrotia
Paulownia
Picea
Pinus
Plane Tree
Populus
Black Cherry
Callery Pear
White Oak
Robinia
Salix
Sophora
Sorbus
Stewartia
Stump
Lilac
Taxodium
Tilia
Tsuga
Elm
Zelkova

Thank you!
posted by geegollygosh to Science & Nature (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I apologize if this is obvious, but if you don't get a good answer here, I would suggest feeding the names into Google Image Search one by one; people like to take pictures of trees in flower, so if a tree has pretty flowers, they are likely to appear on the first page of results. With this strategy you could probably get down the whole list in 20 minutes. (This will also let you judge for yourself whether, say, callery pear flowers clear the "pretty" bar.)

From there, if you want to narrow the list further by bloom time, that's one of the characteristics listed on the page for each species on Dave's Garden (example).
posted by aws17576 at 8:08 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Best answer: But just to contribute another way, here are some trees/bushes I can definitely put on the "yes" list (at least for having pretty flowers, not sure about time of year): Catalpa, Dogwood, Hibiscus, Liriodendron, Magnolia, Crabapple, Paulownia, Lilac. And one for the "no" list: Stump.
posted by aws17576 at 8:11 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks for the Dave's garden link! That could be fun too.

I had started googling them, but it was hard to tell from a picture which were the "showy" blossoms (like, if you google "elm flower," you'll of course get a picture of a flower, even though it's not an ornamental). It's a good thought to just google the name of the tree though (without a 'flower' keyword) and see what comes up.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:19 PM on April 16


Best answer: Some others for the "no" list: Elm, Tsuga, Salix, White Oak, Pinus, Picea, Metasequoia, Juniperus, Ash, Fagus, Betula, Alnus, Maple
posted by Redstart at 8:21 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Cercis is a yes. That's redbud.
posted by Redstart at 8:24 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Taxodium and Ilex are also on the "no" list.
posted by Redstart at 9:51 PM on April 16


Best answer: Many of these flower, but I wouldn't say they are particularly "pretty", so here is my personal list:

pretty flowers
Aesculus
Amelanchier
Hibiscus
Dogwood
Magnolia
Cercis
Crab Apple
Black Cherry
Callery Pear
Lilac


not pretty flowers or no flowers
Maple
Ailanthus
Alnus
Betula
Carpinus
Carya
Catalpa
Cedrus
Hackberry
Cercidiphyllum
Chionanthus
Cladrastis
Corylus
Hawthorn
Empty
Eucommia
Fagus
Ash
Ginkgo
Honey Locust
Gymnocladus
Halesia
Hamamelis
Ilex
Juglans
Juniperus
Koelrenteria
Sweet Gum
Liriodendron
Maacki
Metasequoia
Morus
Nyssa
Ostrya
Other
Oxydendrum
Parrotia
Paulownia
Picea
Pinus
Plane Tree
Populus
White Oak
Robinia
Salix
Sophora
Sorbus
Stewartia
Stump
Taxodium
Tilia
Tsuga
Elm
Zelkova
posted by Toddles at 10:29 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Best answer: In Toddles’ list, the following do have showy flowers.

Halesia
Paulownia
Stewartia
Chionanthus
posted by sciencegeek at 10:37 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Robinia and hawthorn are both sort of debatable. They're not in the same class as dogwood or magnolia, but they do have noticeable flowers,
posted by Redstart at 10:46 PM on April 16


Liriodendron (tulip poplar) is another debatable one that I would put in the "no" column. Its flowers are pretty but they aren't all that obvious. Tulip poplars grow pretty tall and on most of them the flowers are so high above you that you can barely see them.
posted by Redstart at 10:57 PM on April 16


Your local nursery/gardening club can work through that list in a few minutes, with added information about where to plant a species for best results. Other factors are whether the plant is toxic to people or animals, whether it attracts nuisance insects and animals, and whether it can withstand the typical storms in your area.
Redbuds and wild plums are glorious planted together. Be aware of the sharp thorns on the plum trees, though.
Many fruit trees are spring blooming species. But then you must take care of the fruit. Make inquiries about whether you need two trees for pollination on your property.
posted by TrishaU at 10:58 PM on April 16


Best answer: My pretty list would be:
Maple
Aesculus
Ailanthus
Alnus -
Amelanchier _ A+.
Betula
Carpinus
Carya _ interesting but green so may but count for many folk.
Catalpa
Cedrus
Hackberry
Cercidiphyllum
Cercis _ A+.
Chionanthus _ A++, in my essentials small, white-flowering trees list
Cladrastis
Dogwood _ A, some of nasty pinks. But controversa_Variegata wedding cake tree is amazing, as is Cornus mas / Cornelian cherry.
Corylus
Hawthorn _ Paul's Scarlett, plus many straight Crategus monogyna weed forms in pinks and white.
Empty
Eucommia
Fagus
Ash _ A+, but you need some room for them.
Ginkgo
Honey Locust
Gymnocladus
Halesia _ A+, again a favourite, but a bit ephemeral which makes it all the more a keeper.
Hamamelis _ A+++, so many nice colours.
Hibiscus
Ilex
Juglans
Juniperus
Koelrenteria [Koelreuteria]
Sweet Gum
Liriodendron _ A, need to be pruned to show off those big sexy flower cups.
Maacki
Magnolia _ A+++, the Kobo types, M. soulangeana (pink), stellata (white), x_loebnell_LenardMessel - there's just so many.
Crab Apple - A+, Strathmore (pink bunches),
Metasequoia
Morus
Nyssa
Ostrya
Other
Oxydendrum
Parrotia _ autumn A+++
Paulownia
Picea
Pinus
Plane Tree
Populus
Black Cherry
Callery Pear _ could go by it but there are many nice flowering pears like P pendula, Bradford (flowers and fruit)
White Oak
Robinia
Salix _ some nice sping flushes, god as a background in large areas.
Sophora _ A US forms nice, NZ forms amazing
Sorbus
Stewartia _ A+++ white, well-behaved medium size.
Stump
Lilac _ A+++. just so many colours, and all fragrant.
Taxodium
Tilia _ A+, but hide their wonder under their leaves, great if you have a path beneath
Tsuga -
Elm - depends on type, some have nice pink samara in fall.
Zelkova

Many of the ones I've mised our have great fall colour, and / or nice winter forms.
posted by unearthed at 12:02 AM on April 17


My neighborhood is abloom with Dogwood right now, and it's lovely. So, a vote for Dogwood here.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:07 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Thank you everyone!!
posted by geegollygosh at 4:11 AM on April 17


Honey locusts and black cherries both have pretty white flowers. I don't know if they would be considered ornamental, but they're very pretty this time of year.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:34 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


There's one aspect missing from the flower list which is "does it smell good". Callery pears STINK so bad my city took them off the street tree list. Please don't plant one, the smell is so overwhelming and disgusting.
On the other hand black cherry, honey locust, magnolia, lilac and crab apple all have a good scent (in that they smell like flowers and not like unwashed ass).
posted by fiercekitten at 8:37 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Azaleas are more of a shrub than a tree, but they are lovely. My neighbors have one that is a little out of control and is threatening to swallow their porch, Audrey II style, but it's so cheery, like the visual equivalent of a (bright pink) dog who is SO HAPPY YOU'RE HOME.
posted by basalganglia at 10:59 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


In Southern Ontario, we have in our yard
Flowering dogwood
Redbud
Lilac
Japanese lilac
Star magnolia
Laburnum
Neghbours have crabapple, cherry, tulip tree (a type of maple, I think)
posted by Enid Lareg at 11:38 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Tulip tree, also called Tulip poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera, is a magnolia. It does not have the big showy white or pink flowers of Southern or Chinese magnolias, but the yellow flowers are pretty in their own way.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:33 PM on April 17


If hawthorn is the same plant in the US as the UK (Crataegus monogyna), I'd definitely put that on the blossom list. Hawthorn flowering is one of the highlights of the spring for me. Here (SE England) it flowers in May (and that's actually another name for it). Leafy green bushes and trees are suddenly, joyously, white or pink, branches covered in clumps and drifts of flowers like snow. Here, look! David Hockney seems to share my delight; here's an example of how he sees them.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:22 AM on April 19


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