Cambridge Tree Project
Cambridge Tree Project

Shade Trees

Available at our spring 2020 Saturday Tree Sales


Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)

A tree of southern swamps that also happens to prosper in our area…ornamental attributes are numerous: delicate sage green needles that turn a soft orange in autumn (pictured immediately above) and fall from the tree (similar to our native tamarack trees) to reveal attractive, reddish-brown fissured bark...trees planted throughout Cambridge in 2007 have averaged 14 inches of annual growth in poor and compacted soil…the tree pictured at the top above (located on the 300 block of North Street in better soil) has averaged an impressive 25 inches of annual growth…with time becomes a large uniformly pyramidal tree reaching 60 ft. high but stays narrow to only 20 ft. wide…one of the few trees that will grow in standing water; conversely, it also tolerates dryer soils...a recently discovered baldcypress tree in North Carolina was found to be over 2500 years old.




Beech, American (Fagus grandifolia) Native

A tree of great beauty which many people claim as their favorite...distinctive smooth silvery bark (see top picture immediately above)...attractive dark green leaves that turn golden bronze in the fall (pictured immediately above) and persist throughout winter…one of the best trees for climbing given the strongly horizontal branching pattern…an added bonus: beechnuts are edible and good tasting…our early data suggests that you should expect around 12 inches of annual growth from a young tree...beeches require good soil and grow slowly, but with time they become majestic specimens: the current state champion near Manitowoc is just over 100 ft. high.




Birch, River (Betula nigra) Native

The best all-around birch for suburban lawns given its graceful form and just right size of 30-40 ft. tall...grows in poor, compacted soils including those that are seasonally wet in spring...ornamental features include exfoliating salmon/cream colored bark (pictured above) and a beautiful clear yellow fall color...13 street trees planted locally are averaging 27 inches(!) of annual growth without supplemental watering




Birch ‘Whitespire’ (Betula populifolia)  

The best white-barked birch for suburban lawns…pure white bark and glossy green leaves that turn yellow in fall…grows to 30-40 ft. high with a dominant central leader and narrow habit, to around 20 ft. wide…over 30 years 'Whitespire' has averaged 14 inches of annual growth at the UW Arboretum...early growth is faster, at just over 24 inches annually for our two street trees along Madison Street in Cambridge. 



Birch, Yellow (Betula alleghaniensis) Native

An interesting large shade tree that has the essence of wintergreen in its also has exceptional clear yellow fall color...the ornamental bark, pictured above, is a beautiful shiny gold...this is the largest of our native birches (60 ft. high) and is logged for flooring, trim and furniture...two yellow birches planted in Cambridge average 13 inches of growth each year...this tree will grow in sun or shade and prefers cool and moist conditions.




Buckeye, Ohio, Red and Yellow

(Aesculus glabra, flava and pavia) 

Buckeyes are great choices for shady areas as they're adapted to the forest understory...palmately-compound leaves (see picture above) stand out among other trees...attractive flowers arrive in June and in fall buckeye nuts appear only to be quickly swiped by local squirrel packs...growth rates for most species of buckeyes are slower: Ohio buckeye averages only 9 inches annually in Cambridge and yellow buckeye produces 14 inches growth; however: a red buckeye (see complete description on 'Ornamentals' tab at top of page) that is regularly watered has averaged 18 inches of growth each year...Ohio buckeye leaves produce a nice pumpkin orange fall color while deeper reds are not during some years (pictured above)…Yellow buckeye will grow 60 ft. high tall or more whereas Ohio is usually shorter than that; red buckeyes are great patio trees as they reach only 10-15 ft. high.




Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

The white flowers, at close inspection, are said to be the most beautiful of all American flowering trees (see photo above)...massive leaves (up to 12 inches) have a tropical appearance (some would say course) and a pleasant medium green color during the summer months…long cigar-type seed pods will arrive in about ten years...incredibly fast-growing: 31 inches annually taking measurements from our 13 trees in Cambridge...grows nearly anywhere including saturated, dry and compacted soils...with time a very large tree: one in Wauwatosa is 106 ft. high.



Cherry, Manchurian (Prunus maackia)

Beautiful, shiny cinnamon brown bark (pictured above) is a year round attraction...additionally, white flowers are displayed in great profusion during the month of May though they are somewhat muted as they arrive with the leaves...easy to grow in all soils with good drainage...cold hardiness to -40...we've planted six Manchurian cherries in Cambridge and they've averaged a respectable 15 inches of annual growth...reaches 40 ft. tall and 25 ft. wide at maturity. 



Coffeetree, Kentucky (Gymnocladus dioicus) Native

Similar to honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree's fine leaves provide a light shade under which grass grows's also one tough tree: able to grow successfully in virtually all soils except those that are consistently wet...28 trees planted along Cambridge streets in poor soil (gravel, in some cases) are averaging 14 inches annually...trees planted in better soil are averaging considerable growth: 24 inches annually over the past ten years without supplemental watering...sparse looking when young but with age becomes a bold, picturesque tree...exceptional yellow fall color (see above)...attractive, highly textured scaly bark is a year round attraction...on female trees large purple seed pods turn dark brown in the fall and persist through winter...this tree is late to leaf out in spring...reaches 50 ft. tall and 40 ft. wide. 


Crabtree: see 'Ornamentals' tab at top of page


Dogwood, Pagoda see 'Ornamentals' tab



Elm, American (Ulmus x 'Accolade') Native

Contemporary elm cultivars offer disease resistance plus the classic vase shape that historically lined streets throughout America...they're also durable trees for tough conditions, including slow-draining clay soils that are commonly found in newer subdivisions...another plus is fast growth: a tree planted on Park Street in 2009 and is now over 35 ft. high...19 elm cultivars planted throughout Cambridge are averaging 24 inches of annual growth, those planted in better soils are averaging 3 ft. of growth annually...fall color isn't guaranteed but can be a good yellow, and the leaves have a nice glossy surface that provide visual interest throughout summer.




Ginkgo (Gingko biloba x 'Princeton Sentry' and 'Windover Gold')

A favorite of Frank Lloyd Wright, ginkgo trees feature what might be the most distinctive leaf (pictured above) of any deciduous tree: they're shaped like a fan; they also consistently display clear yellow fall color and (as an added bonus) nearly all leaves fall within a 24 hour time period in the autumn, reducing the fall rake-up hassle considerably…regarded as one of the most trouble free trees available: no insect or disease issues are known and trees are extremely hardy once established…growth is slow: 30 trees planted throughout Cambridge are averaging only eight inches of annual growth...growth to 12 inches annually can be achieved with regular watering...trees in China are known to be over 1000 years old.




Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) Native

A tough buster for difficult sites...tolerates exposed areas with poor soils including those that are gravelly and sandy...some ability to withstand slow-draining compacted for interesting warty bark (pictured above) ornamental attributes are wanting, and some trees develop an unsightly malady called witches broom, though we don't see this on the dozen hackberries in our village forest...we've found hackberry growth on tough sites to be 12 inches annually after a few years of transplant acclimation...trees will reach 60 ft. and higher and endure for decades even under the worst circumstances.




Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) Native

If you dislike raking leaves this is your tree!...the leaves are so small they settle down into your lawn, quickly decomposing and adding nitrogen to the's also one of the best trees for filtered sunshine which encourages the growth of turf grass...this is a tough tree that performs well in suboptimal soil conditions: too wet, too dry, compacted, etc...we've planted 26 honeylocust throughout Cambridge and they're averaging 21 inches of growth each year, despite being located in less than ideal conditions...fall color can be a good yellow...will reach 60 ft. high and 40 ft. wide.




Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

The European cousin of our domestic buckeye trees are classic white flowering shade trees that you can find in most older downtown areas...a real attention grabber when in flower (see pic above taken on Main St.)...also features interesting palmately compound leaves and buckeye nuts which fascinate kids and squirrels...horsechestnut seedlings have averaged 14 inches of growth annually here in Cambridge.



Horsechestnut, Red Flowering

(Aesculus x carnea 'Ft McNair')

One of our most-requested trees...reddish-pink flowers in May/June that everybody will notice and ask you fall color to speak of but the leaves look great throughout summer and early fall...a tree planted on the 300 block of North St is averaging over 15 inches of growth annually with regular watering...without regular watering Ft. McNair red horsechstnuts average eight inches of annual growth...expect this tree to reach 30-40 ft. high with time.





Ironwood (Ostrya vinginiana) Native

Common small understory tree that can be introduced as a graceful element to your home landscape...interesting features include hop-type fruits (pictured at top above) and broken, irregular bark (immeidately above)...wood is extremely hard and was used for tool handles during frontier times...happily grows in sun or complete shade...good fall color has not been noted locally...we've recorded surprisingly robust initial growth of the eight ironwoods planted throughout Cambridge: 20 inches annually, though this rate will slow considerably over time.



Katsura Tree (Cercidyphyllum japonica)

Considered by tree snobs to be one of the most beautiful and desirable specimen trees...long-lived, low maintenance and attractive in all seasons...leaves have an interesting round shape that flicker in the wind throughout summer, remaining disease free (Japanese beetles won’t touch this tree) well into autumn when they can turn a nice amber-orange color (see above, pictured at the old red school)...only liability is a need for regular watering when young...a katsuratree growing in the Nakoma neighborhood in Madison is 65 ft. high...we are seeing 13 inches annual growth from the 12 katsuratrees planted throughout Cambridge, mostly in shady conditions, where growth rates are suppressed...katsura trees receiving regular watering that are also planted in sunny locations are growing two ft. annually locally. 



Larch (Tamarack) (Larix laricina) Native

A deciduous conifer that drops all of its needles in the fall after displaying a solid golden yellow fall color...grows well in saturated soils and under normal lawn and garden growing when young, up to 24 inches annually...tall and narrow profile, to 50 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide.



Linden, Silver (Tilia tomentosa 'Sterling Silver')

As shown above, silver lindens feature dark green, shiny leaves with contrasting silver undersides that stand out among other trees...another big plus: Japanese beetles don't feed on their leaves; something quite unusual for a linden...also, smooth light gray bark on branches up to ten inches diameter provides visual interest...a formal, pyramidal habit is very similar to our native linden, as are fragrant spring flowers that are so popular with local bee populations...prospers in all soils except those that are frequently saturated...reaches 50 ft. high and 30 ft. wide at an an average rate.



London Planetree (Platanus x 'Exclamation')

Hybrid of our native sycamore and the oriental plane tree...common in American and European cities because it grows so well under urban conditions...shown above is the familiar bark, a mosaic of tan, brown and white...a very fast growing tree: 36 London planes planted throughout Cambridge in compacted clay/gravel/garbage soil are averaging 36 inches(!) of growth annually...tough and trouble free...reaches 60 ft. high with time...the cultivar we offer ('Exclamation') was developed by 'Chicagoland Grows' and is well-suited to our area.



Magnolias see 'Ornamentals' tab





Maple, Red Sunset (Acer x 'Red Sunset') Native

This red maple has several advantages over the commonly available 'Autumn Blaze' cultivar: a more formal pyramidal shape; better branch distribution and stronger branches that are less likely to break from wind, snow or also colors earlier and reliably produces an electric red/orange color (see pic above)...grows to 45 ft. high and wide...prospers in virtually any soils including the compacted clays found in new subdivisions.



Mulberry, Red (Moris rubra) Native

An uncommon forest tree that shouldn't be confused with the invasive white mulberry...large, juicy fruits are edible, messy and highly valued by many bird species...large dark green leaves in various shapes that, at best, turn an understated yellow in fall...reaches 40 ft. tall in landscape conditions with an open habit..grayish-brown ridged and furrowed bark...requires good garden soil and will grow in sun or part shade.




Musclewood (Carpinus vinginiana) Native

A fine-textured understory tree with smooth silver bark similar to American beech...vibrant red fall color locally (see above)...excellent choice for patios and in front of larger trees as it reaches only 20 ft. high and wide under landscape conditions…happily grows in sun or complete shade...we've recorded reasonably fast initial growth of the eight younger hornbeams planted throughout Cambridge: 16 inches annually...native along rivers and streams...also known as hornbeam.



Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

While known as a southern species, we carry pecan trees from northern seed sources that perform well in our area...a ten year old tree in Westside Park (pictured above) started producing pecans in the fall of 2018...pecan trees are self-fertile and our 3-4 ft. tall trees begin producing nuts about six years after planting...pecan trees planted locally have managed an impressive 21 inches of annual growth over the past ten years...they're also tough: able to withstand compacted clay and seasonally wet soils...reaches 70 ft. tall and 40 ft. wide...we've seen a nice yellow fall color locally about every other year.





Persimmon: (Diospyros virginiana)

A tough and interesting tree that's performed well for us here in Cambridge despite its natural range extending no further north than central Illinois...most prominent feature is handsome and easily recognized blocky bark (see picture above - top) on both young and older trees...persimmons also have lustrous dark green leaves that turn a purplish red in fall...we've planted nine of them throughout Cambridge (most of them in poor soil) and they've averaged 14 inches of annual growth; also, none of them have died suggesting that they do well on difficult sites....the bright orange colored fruits (see middle picture  above) are edible and require male and female trees for eight year old persimmon on Lawn Street began fruiting two years ago...the largest persimmon in Wisconsin, located in Shorewood, is 45 ft. high. 




Oaks: (various Quercus) Native

The following oaks are all beautiful and easy to grow.


Red Oak is our go-to tree to plant in the shade of larger trees locally, though it won't grow as fast in that setting (8 inches annually on average for our seven trees)...when planted in the sun we're recording 18 inches of annual growth...very easy to grow and a nice red fall color.


Bur Oak handles tough conditions better than nearly any other tree: wet, dry, compacted, gravel, rocky, clay soils, take your pick! excellent choice for newer subdivisions...even under terrible conditions bur oaks average 8 inches of annual growth good soil we've found bur oaks will grow over 20 inches annually within the first five years of planting.


Chinkapin Oak is the fastest growing oak we offer; nine trees planted throughout Cambridge are averaging 24 inches of growth annually without supplemental watering...features intersting serrated leaves and edible acorns.


Shingle Oak once grew as far north as Rock County and has interesting lustrous leaves like a magnolia (no lobes)...a shingle oak planted ten years ago on the 300 block of North St has averaged a respectable 23 inches of annual growth.


Redbud, Eastern see 'Ornamentals' tab at top of page




Redwood, Dawn (Metasequoia glyptostrbiodes)

Similar to baldcypress in many ways but faster growing locally: our seven trees in Cambridge average 26 inches of annual growth without supplemental watering...withstands wet soil but also performs well in dryer soils...small (to only one inch) and attractive dark brown cones...drops its leaves in the fall revealing attractive reddish brown, fissured bark...will grow quickly to 70 ft. high and a narrow 25 ft. wide.


Serviceberry see 'Ornamentals' tab at top of page




Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

All parts of sassafras are both aromatic and interesting...the roots were once used to make root beer and are still used to make tea...the leaves, pictured above, come in four shapes (ghost, football and both left and right-handed mittens) all of which feature exceptional orange and red fall color locally...color also appears in spring, in the form of yellow flowers...we planted a sassafras in our front lawn six years ago and it's grown 21 inches annually with regular watering...this tree needs full sun and good soil to thrive.




Smoketree, American (Cotinus obovatus)

Considered by some to have the best fall color of any American tree (see picture above to decide for yourself!)...similar to the purple-leaved smoke bush but grows larger, to 25 ft. high in the form of a that truly look like smoke...also features unique scaly silvery bark...leaves have a blue/green hue that also stands out...native to dry soils in the south central states but fully hardy in our area...growth is slower, perhaps 12 inches annually...needs full sun to thrive.




Sweetgum: (Liquidambar styraciflua x 'Moraine')

The best fall color festival of any tree in Cambridge...sweetgum leaves from the same tree pick a brilliant color and really run with it...keep in mind that each of the above leaves were part of the same tree on High Street just south of Main St...we offer the 'Moraine' cultivar which withstands our coldest winters and provides lustrous green leaves throughout summer...we’re seeing annual growth of 19 inches on the nine sweetgums planted throughout Cambridge…unusual blocky bark on younger branches...tolerant of wet areas and poor soils.


Sycamore: (Platanus occidentalis) Native

Numerous sycamores planted in lousy soil throughout Cambridge have proven to be extremetly fast growing trees: averaging 27 inches of growth annually without supplemental of the fastest growing trees we've ever measured, a sycamore planted in 2007 on the 200 block of North Street in good soil, is now 52 ft. tall and has averaged 47 inches of growth annually (see picture immediately above)...drought tolerant and tough, sycamores will grow in virtually any setting: wet, dry, clay, gravel...we've lost very few sycamores which is really saying something given the conditions we plant them in...they also rarely need formative pruning due to nicely defined central leader and even lateral branching...mature size is massive, up to 100 ft. tall and wide.




(Liriodendron tulipifera)

Fast growing, spring flowering, majestic member of the magnolia family...street trees planted in Cambridge are averaging 25 inches of annual growth...trees planted in residential lawns throughout Cambridge are growing up to 36 inches annually...leaves have the interesting tulip shape and remain disease free (Japanese beetles won’t touch this tree) well into autumn when they consistently turn an excellent yellow color...not a good choice for areas with poor soil, especially new subdivisions...a massive tree with time, reaching 80 ft. tall and 40 ft. wide...specimens to 200 ft. tall are known in the Smokeys.





(Nyssa sylvatica)

Exceptionally vivid red fall color on glossy leaves is nearly impossible to beat on a clear fall day...pictured above is a celebrated specimen growing next to the McKay Center at the UW Arboretum...note the unique horizontal branching pattern...will grow in poorly drained areas given it's tolerance of anaerobic soils...growth in Cambridge has been slow, at 12 inches annually to a height of 30 ft. tall and wide...native only to Kenosha County, but fully hardy in our area.



Yellowwood, Pink: (Cladrastis kentukea 'Perkin's Pink')

A tree with numerous beautiful attributes: pink flowers (shown above) hang from branches like wisteria in early June; distinctive yellow-green leaves that stand out in the landscape; soft yellow fall leaf color and smooth silver bark...we've found yellowwoods are fairly fast growing in Cambridge, averaging 20 inches annually without supplemental watering...a great choice for areas with poor soil as long as drainage is good...tops out at 30 ft. tall and wide.



Zelkova: (Zelkova serrata 'Village Green')

Closely related to elm trees, zelkovas feature attractive leaves, bark and a vase-shaped habit...leaves are elm-like and not fed on by Japanese beetles...with age the bark exfoliates to reveal gray and warm brown patches...we've recorded 29 inches of annual growth on the zelkovas planted in Cambridge...they will grow in nearly any soil except those that are continually wet. ..quickly reaches 60 ft. tall and 40 ft. wide.



Profits from our tree sales have gifted and established 1000 additional living trees in Cambridge since 2006


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