Great Plains and Midwest Trees and Shrubs

Alnus incana has several common names including Speckled Alder, Mountain Alder, or Swamp Alder. Speckled Alder is a shrub or small tree that grows up to 20 feet tall and is often seen with multiple thin trunks. The bark of Alnus incana was one of the ingredients used by the Native Americans to make a red die and it's branches were used in snow shoes. Alder blooms early in the spring, before it leafs out, with cones that develope late into the summer.

Asimina triloba or Pawpaw is a small to medium tree, growing up to 40 feet tall. This member of the midwest trees and shrubs produces reddish-brown flowers in early April which grow banana-shaped fruit. The fruit of the Pawpaw ripens through the season from green or yellow to brown and then to black after the first frost. The fruit is very edible, but only if one can get to it before the wildlife. This tree plays host to the larvae of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly.

Betula nigra or River Birch can be found growing 50 to 90 feet tall, but usually remains much smaller, closer to 40 or 50 feet. It blooms early in the Spring and fruits in the late Spring or early summer, sending it's little winged seed onto the wind. In the cone these fruits are excelent bird food.

Crataegus reverchonii is a small tree or shrub native to the Great Plains, that grows up to eighteen feet tall. Crataegus reverchonii is better known as Reverchon Hawthorn and has wonderful, edible fruit, eaten raw or cooked in pies or jams. Hawthorn is a very tolerant tree only requiring the wet soils of a rain garden.

Decodon verticillatus boasts brilliant lilac flowers in the late summer. This beautiful shrub of 3 to 8 feet is also known as Water Willow or Swamp Loosestrife. Swamp Loosestrife is often found right in the water up 60 cm deep.

Myrica gale is also known as Sweet Gale, Wax Myrtle or Bayberry. Sweet Gale is a low growing shrub, rarely more than four to six feet. Myrica gale is known to harbor a volatile oil that is fragrant, but astringent. The various parts of this shrub are employed in medical uses, from the branches in beer to the berries used as a spice. Sweet gale is known to grow in Europe and Ireland as well as the central United States.

Sambucus canadensis blooms from May all the way through to August. It's beautiful little white flowers brighten any landscape. American Elderberry produces an edible berry often used in pies. The flowers and the fruit are both used to make wine. Be aware though, that there is a slight toxicity. Elderberry grows from three to twelve feet tall.

Spiraea virginiana blooms in mid summer with mounds of beautiful, white flowers. Spirea grows anywhere from 2 to 10 feet tall. This shrub prefers rocky, streambanks scoured by flooding and is currently listed as threatened by the federal register due to habitat elimination.

Ulmus crassifolia is a large tree of 50 to 75 feet tall common in Oklahoma, Texas and other Midwestern states and Florida. Better known as Cedar Elm, Ulmus crassifolia is listed as threatened in many states. This beautiful diciduous is a great shade tree.

Viburnum dentatum is a member of the Honeysuckle family, better known as Arrowwood. Arrowwood grows from 3 up to 12 feet tall and blooms in late summer. Arrowwood produced small blue berries. It's inner bark was once used as a tobacco substitute and the limbs were used to make arrows.