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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 14, 2012

From: Wichita, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Hardy Tree for Kansas
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I'm hoping to find a tree that is hardy and will survive all rough seasons in Wichita, KS. The spot is in front of a northern exposure window.

ANSWER:

I would think you have your best chance of a locally hardy tree by considering the native trees that have adapted to thrive in your area.

My way of going about a recommendation is to use the Recommended Species list for Kansas – Then narrow the search for partial shade [in front of a northern exposure window].  That gave me 19 candidates and I would encourage you to examine them yourself to see if any of them fit your fancy!

Just to cut down the list a bit more, I reviewed these candidates for just how far North into Canada they have been noted to grow. You can do that by looking at the USDA distribution maps on the link to their database. I would think that a tree that thrives in Alberta would be a great candidate for an exposed position in Kansas!  We all say there's only a couple strands of barbed wire between us and the Arctic, but those trees thrive.

So – Here is my list of “winners” for extended range to the North:

The widest range(most hardy)had populations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Central Canada.  These were Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Green ash) and Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak)

Nearly as well distributed were Prunus americana (American plum) [Saskatchewan & Manitoba], Acer saccharinum (Silver maple) in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec and Celtis occidentalis (Common hackberry) in Manitoba and Quebec,

These trees are probably as hardy as you’ll find them.  Don’t forget to pamper them a bit when young and your choice will survive well for the long term!

 

From the Image Gallery


Green ash
Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Green ash
Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Bur oak
Quercus macrocarpa

Silver maple
Acer saccharinum

Common hackberry
Celtis occidentalis

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