The Best Deciduous Trees for Zone 4
Deciduous trees come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, textures and shapes. All deciduous trees lose their leaves in the autumn, go dormant for the winter and leaf out again every spring. USDA hardiness zone 4 encompasses the area around the Great Lakes in the northern United States (US). Deciduous trees growing in Zone 4 are typically those that can endure extended periods of cold and the occasional hot, dry summer.
Box elders (Acer negundo) are fast-growing, deciduous trees in the Aceraceae family. Hardy in USDA zones 2 to 10, these trees reach up to 50 feet in height and have a similar spread. The green-yellow flowers bloom in clusters in March and April. The light to medium green leaves turn an undistinguished yellow in the autumn. These trees tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and thrive in fully sunny locations. Box elder trees are commonly used as shade trees in colder climates.
The white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) is a small tree belonging to the olive family (Oleaceae). This tree prefers fully sunny to partly sunny locations in USDA zones 3 to 9. The fragrant, creamy white flowers bloom in May and June. This tree has a 12 to 20 foot spread and reaches up to 20 feet in height. The white fringetree needs moist, well-drained soil to thrive. This tree doesn’t tolerate extended dry conditions, but it does tolerate air pollution and grows well in urban settings. White fringetrees are commonly planted in groups for woodland borders and native plant gardens.
Littleleaf Linden trees (Tilia cordata) are European natives that grow well in the colder climates of North America. These ornamental shade trees are hardy from zones 3 to 7. Littleleaf Lindens typically grow from 50 to 70 feet in height and have up to a 50-foot spread. The fragrant, pale yellow blossoms bloom in June and attract a large number of bees. This tree prefers well-drained, loamy soil and has a good tolerance for urban settings. Littleleaf Lindens are commonly used as street, shade and lawn trees.
Star Magnolias (Magnolia stellata) are deciduous trees native to Japan. These shorter trees only grow from 15 to 20 feet in height and have a 10- to 15-foot spread. Hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, star magnolias need to be planted in sites that shelter them from high winds. This tree features fragrant, star-shaped, white flowers that appear from the late winter until early spring. Star magnolias are usually used as a lawn tree and for woodland area borders.
Pin oaks (Quercus palustris) are members of the red oak group that reach up to 70 feet in height. Hardy to USDA zones 4 to 8, this tree needs moist, loamy soil in a fully sunny location. This tree sometimes takes up to 20 years to bear its first acorn crop. The yellow-green flowers bloom in April and the leaves turn bright red in the autumn. Pin oaks are primarily planted as park, landscape and street trees.
White poplars (Populus alba) are native to Asia but do well in USDA zones 3 to 8. These trees tolerate some drought and urban conditions. White poplars grow up to 75 feet high and have similar spreads. The male flowers bloom red while the female flowers blossom in various green colors. This ornamental tree is valued for its silver-green foliage, bark, twigs and buds. White poplars shouldn’t be planted as street trees because the shallow roots often damage sewers and buckle sidewalks.