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Native Flowering Trees We Can’t Stop Loving!

I was recently asked: Do all trees have flowers?

Answer: Almost all trees flower, the exceptions to the rule include gymnosperms (think Ginko) and conifers.  Some trees have showy flowers and others have insignificant ones, but the majority of trees in our region have flowers.

Spring is a favored season by many.  It marks the end of winter, brings warm weather, and beautiful spring flowers.  Our favorite flowering trees in this season bloom before their leaves emerge, making their flowers stand out even more.

We are almost overwhelmed with the beauty of flowers lately.  Showy, fragrant, brightly colored, these flowers are such a treat.  Today I wanted to share some of my favorite flowering trees.



Ozark witch hazel

Ozark witch hazel in bloom. Photographed in early March


Ozark Witch Hazel. A small tree (or shrub) that blooms between January-April.  These vibrant blooms come in such sharp contrast to the browns we see in winter.  The flowers and seeds are also eaten by wild turkey and ruffed grouse.

Flowering Dogwood Tree in Bloom

Flowering Dogwood at Tower Grove Park. March 2016


Flowering Dogwood in bloom

The Flowering Dogwood is the Missouri State Tree.

Flowering Dogwood.  A small tree with a rounded crown.  Typically white flowers, though there are some cultivars with differing flower colors.  These showy flowers are a sure sign that Spring has arrived in Missouri.

Downy Serviceberry, in bloom

Close up of Downy Serviceberry in bloom.

Downy Serviceberry, a small tree that could reach up to 40 feet tall.  It’s white flowers are found in clusters and are fragrant.  A valuable wildlife plant, Serviceberry fruits are eaten by at least 35 species of birds and 11 species of mammals either eat the fruit or browse twigs/leaves.

Eastern Redbud in bloom

Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, in bloom at Forest Park

Redbud Common understory tree in St. Louis that boasts beautiful purple flowers in Spring. This tree grows to about 30 feet and has spreading branches. (Those pretty little blooms are also edible!)

Honorable mentions, though not well known for their flowers

Maple in bloom, February 2016

Maple in bloom, February 2016

Our native Maples also bloom in the spring time before their leaves emerge.  They appear in tassel-like clusters on otherwise bare twigs.

Red Buckeye in bloom April 2016

Red Buckeye in bloom April 2016


Unlike the other trees shown here, the Red Buckeye has leaves as well as flowers in bloom right now (this somewhat hides the tall red flowers).



Dishonorable mention: 

Non-native trees compete with natives for space and resources, often require more maintenance than native trees, and may not fulfill food and shelter requirements for wildlife.

Flowering Pear Tree

Callery Pears are often planted in parking lots and along roads near businesses as a tree that shows pretty flowers. But they are not worth the cost.

Callery Pear By far one of our least favorite trees growing in Missouri, these could not be left out.  They are all over the St. Louis landscape, with almost as many unintentional trees as there are planted ones.  This tree spreads very easily and is out competing many native species.  But many people still see the flowers and are unaware of the problem (check out this recent blog post on 3 plants to keep out of your yard!).


Thanks for reading this week! And please remember, when making choices about what flowering trees to add to your home landscape think NATIVE.  With the exception of the Callery Pear, all of the trees shown here today are native to Missouri.

The plants we choose for our yards have an impact on many other organisms, don’t choose plants based solely on cosmetic characteristics.

What natives do you love to see blooming this time of year?