Canada's native trees were thriving in their northern climes for countless millennia before the first explorer arrived from Europe. Adapted to bitterly cold winters and short growing seasons, they are natural shelters and food sources for Canada's birds and wildlife. They also grow in harmony with Canada's other wild plants. Incorporating some native trees into your Canadian landscape will mean fewer worries about tree maintenance, and greater enjoyment of your wild feathered and furry friends.
With its flower represented on British Columbia's provincial flag, Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttalli) is one of Canada's most impressive flowering trees. Found throughout the country's southern provinces, Pacific dogwood can reach to a height of 60 feet. Between May and July its horizontal branches have creamy white blossoms larger than those of the eastern dogwoods common in the United States. Colorful red or orange fruit feeds birds and small mammals. In autumn, Pacific dogwood's green leaves turn yellow.
Growing wild at forest elevations of 3,000 to 6,000 feet, trees tolerate sun or shade. They like rich, well-drained soil and damp summers, but suffer from summer over-watering once established. Trees with damaged wood are susceptible to fungus.
Found in Canada's southernmost province of Ontario, tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a rapid grower that can exceed 140 feet. Under the right conditions, says Global Forest Science, tulip trees will live more than 150 years. Planting one in your Canadian landscape will provide color and shade for generations.
The trees' unusual, waxy star-like leaves become vivid yellow in autumn. Between April and June their branches produce golden-orange flowers resembling tulips. Their fragrant nectar attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Other bird species nest in their branches.
A member of the magnolia family, tulip tree grows in sun or shade. It likes rich, moist well-drained soils and regular watering. Prolonged drought will weaken what is otherwise a disease-and-pest-resistant tree.
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) grows throughout Canada's nine southern and eastern provinces. This tree, belong to the rose family, seldom exceeds 30 feet. Between May and July, it has dense clusters of fragrant white flowers followed in August and September by astringent red to black cherries. With enough sweetener, chokecherries make edible preserves.
Chokecherry grows in sun or shade and in a wide range of soils from sand to clay. It does best, however, in moist, rich pH-neutral soil. The tree's bark, twigs and leaves--as well as its fruit--feed several wildlife species. Moose, elk, deer, bears and coyotes browse on the plants. Wilted leaves and frost-damaged tree parts are toxic to humans and cattle.