Michigan has a wide range when it comes to hardiness zones and average winter temperatures, the factors that determine what plants grow best in a region. The hardiness zones in Michigan are zones three, four, five and six. The average low temperatures in winter range from - 40 to -5 F. The trees in Michigan are big, hardy and strong, thrive in their cold environment and have a wide variety of features that fit into any landscaping plan.
Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) is a member of the willow family and is the hardwood tree that grows the furthest north in North America. It is also known as
tacamahac, cottonwood or heartleaf balsam poplar. The tree grows to a height of between 75 and 100 feet. The branches grow straight up and form a narrow crown, a feature that is distinctive of a poplar tree. The branchlets are a shiny red/brown and 1 inch long, and the trunk is a grey/green that darkens with age. The tree produces leaves that are oval, shiny and dark green on top and pale green with orange blotches on the bottom, as well as flowers that are long and yellow/green.
Pin oak (Quercus palustris) has a straight trunk with branches that grow up and spread to the sides, forming a cone-shaped crown. The tree grows to a height of at least 60 to 70 feet and produces dark green leaves that turn a dark red in the fall. Flowers can be yellow, green or brown, and the tree also produces the acorn nut, like all oak trees do. Pin oak can take full sun, partial shade or full shade and needs heavy, wet soil. The tree attracts birds, including hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Black cherry (Prunus serotina) grows to a height of 50 to 60 feet, with an oval-shaped crown and arching branches. The oblong, pointed leaves are shiny and turn yellow in the fall. The tree produces white flowers and dark, red fruit that turns black starting in August and going through October. The tree can grow in sun, shade or partial shade and needs a soil that is moist to dry, not wet. The tree attracts a variety of wildlife, including butterflies, and it drops a lot of twigs and leaves as well as the fruit. The wood of the black cherry tree is used to make furniture, paneling, scientific instruments, handles and toys. Cough syrup is made from the bark, and jelly and wine are made from the fruit. The seeds inside the fruit--not the fruit itself--as well as wilted leaves and twigs are highly toxic, and eating those parts can be fatal.
American elm (Ulmus americana) grows to a height of 100 feet, with a 4-foot diameter trunk that splits into a forked shape starting a few feet above the ground. The tree has a graceful appearance, with a flat-topped crown that spreads out wider than the height of the tree. The leaves are elliptical in shape, pointed and thin. The color is a dark green and rough on the top and a pale green with soft hairs on the bottom, which turns yellow in the fall. It produces flowers that are green and just 1/8 of an inch wide. The wood is used for containers, furniture and paneling.