The state of Kansas boasts many different types of trees. With its variety of soil conditions and moderate to temperate climates, the state contains both deciduous and evergreen varieties. Although many native trees flourish throughout Kansas, certain introduced varieties successfully adapt and thrive. Of the many varieties of trees growing in Kansas, several are especially worthy of notice for their ornamental appeal in yards and parks throughout the Sunflower State.
The attractive blossoms of a redbud tree signal the entrance of springtime in much of Kansas. These showy trees grow about 20 feet tall in most landscape plantings. Masses of rose-colored blossoms appear on the branches during April. These trees produce rounded, heart-shaped leaves on branches encased in gray bark. Redbud trees thrive in average soils across the state of Kansas. In addition to their focal beauty, the blossoms of a redbud tree are edible. With their slightly nutty flavor, redbud blossoms enhance the taste and appearance of pancakes and salads.
Known as the state tree, the cottonwood flourishes in most Kansas locations. Because of their rapid growth, cottonwoods provide a quick source of timber, as well as living fences and windbreaks. In favorable conditions, some trees grow as high as 100 feet by the age of 15 years. Named for their interesting way of producing seeds, these trees manufacture masses of cottony, white fluff in the early summer, often creating an appearance of falling snow. They thrive in moist areas and often exhibit invasive tendencies when planted near other landscape trees and shrubs. With their bright, green leaves fluttering in the slightest breeze, cottonwood trees add splendor and beauty to many landscape designs.
Pioneers or birds, or possibly a combination of both, introduced the Osage orange tree to the state of Kansas. These trees now grow in many types of soil, primarily along boundary lines between farm properties. Due to their sharp, prickly thorns, Osage orange trees form impenetrable barriers between property lines. This variety of tree found favor among early Kansas ranchers, who used them to contain livestock before the invention of barbed wire. They produce round fruit resembling their namesake. Squirrels often forage the seeds from the inside of these tough and stringy fruits.