Best Native Trees to Plant

Climate change has already increased temperatures and the frequency of heavy rain events in Northeast Ohio. Over the next several decades, these trends will become more pronounced, altering the forests as we know them. With this changing climate, some tree species will thrive while others are less likely to survive. Inside you will find a list of which tree species to plant in these changing conditions, and which ones to avoid.

Standing Strong

Some tree species adapt better to environmental change and disturbance than others. These adaptable trees resist pests and diseases or tolerate changes in shade levels, drought and storm systems. Climate change models project the following species will thrive in Northeast Ohio over the next several decades:

BITTERNUT HICKORY

Height at maturity 80’ to 100’
Spread at maturity 60’ to 80’
Growth per year 18” to 24”

BLACK OAK

Height at maturity 70’ to 90’
Spread at maturity 70’ to 90’
Growth per year 14” to 18”

BLACK WALNUT

Height at maturity 70’ to 90’
Spread at maturity 70’ to 90’
Growth per year 18” to 24”

BUR OAK

Height at maturity 70’ to 80’
Spread at maturity 70’ to 80’
Growth per year 14” to 18”

EASTERN REDCEDAR

Height at maturity 40’ to 55’
Spread at maturity 10’ to 25’
Growth per year 9” to 12”

SCARLET OAK

Height at maturity 70’ to 90’
Spread at maturity 70’ to 90’
Growth per year 16” to 20”

New Neighbors

As temperatures rise, Northeast Ohio could become a more promising habitat for southern tree species. Climate change models predict the following species should be successful in Northeast Ohio in the future:

AMERICAN SWEETGUM

Height at maturity 60’ to 85’
Spread at maturity 40’ to 50’
Growth per year 18” to 24”

BLACKJACK OAK

Height at maturity 35’ to 50’
Spread at maturity 35’ to 60’
Growth per year 7” to 10”

CHINKAPIN OAK

Height at maturity 70’ to 90’
Spread at maturity 70’ to 90’
Growth per year 16” to 20”

COMMON PERSIMMON

Height at maturity 45’ to 60’
Spread at maturity 25’ to 40’
Growth per year 14” to 18”

EASTERN REDBUD

Height at maturity 20’ to 30’
Spread at maturity 25’ to 35’
Growth per year 12” to 14”

POST OAK

Height at maturity 40’ to 55’
Spread at maturity 40’ to 60’
Growth per year 14” to 18”

Trees in Trouble

The amount of moisture retained in a forest will likely be affected by rising temperatures and heavier rain events. Some trees will be less likely to tolerate these moisture changes, making them vulnerable to pests and diseases. The United States Forest Service (USFS) climate change models project the following species will experience a decline in habitat in Northeast Ohio:

  • American basswood
  • American beech
  • American elm
  • Bigtooth aspen
  • Black cherry
  • Black maple
  • Eastern hemlock
  • Eastern hophornbeam
  • Eastern white pine
  • Quaking aspen
  • Red maple
  • Sugar maple

The Future of the Forest

Northeast Ohio’s climate will continue to get warmer and wetter, altering the forests as we know them. Land management professionals and private land owners must have access to information concerning sustainable forest management in response to climate change.
Holden Forests & Gardens’ Sherwin Institute of Woodland Management hosts workshops and classes that enhance skills and knowledge of how to properly care for, and sustainably manage, trees and forests.