Several types of trees that produce white flowers in the spring grow in the wild in parts of the United States. These trees and their cultivars are available as landscaping species to liven up your property. Their blooms can immediately swing your attention up into the branches of these particular trees. Some of these trees possess other features, in addition to their flowers, that make them attractive ornamentals.
The Southern catalpa is one of two catalpa species that exist in the U.S., the other being the larger Northern catalpa. Both are part of the Bignonia family of plants, which includes more than 700 species across the planet; most are tropical in nature. Southern catalpa’s white flowers emerge in spring, arranged in 6 to 10-inch wide clusters. The individual flowers are 1.5 to 2 inches wide and shaped like bells, with purple dots and yellow splashes inside the flower. They turn into long hanging seedpods that give the tree a unique look in the summer. Southern catalpa grows to be between 25 and 50 feet tall and possesses heart-shaped leaves 8 inches long that grow in a whorled pattern around the branches. A dwarf hybrid of Southern catalpa named “Nana” grows to no more than 10 feet, while another cultivar, the “Aurea," has brilliant yellow foliage. You can grow a Southern catalpa in full sun where soil drains well, but remember that the tree is a deep south species and not as tolerant of the cold as its northern cousin is. You should have little problem transplanting the seedlings that develop beneath these catalpas, or you can try growing the tree from seeds.
Fringetree takes the form of a big shrub or a small, less than 20 feet tall tree and is a versatile plant, able to exist in the sun or in partial shade. This means you can opt to place one near taller trees on your property or display it by itself out in the open. Fringetree looks like it perished over the winter and the early spring does nothing to make you think otherwise, as it is one of the last trees to bear flowers, which come before the leaves emerge. The white flowers, which bloom in late May or early June, hang down in clusters and give the tree its nicknames of “old man’s beard” and “Grancy Greybeard.” Fringetree grows in moist ground but can take extended periods of dry conditions if need be. It has a fragrant smell, and when the leaves finally do arrive, they are 4 to 8 inches long, dark green and turn to yellow in the autumn. The species comes in male or female forms, with the male fringetree actually having prettier flowers than the females, although only the female produces fruit, which birds and wildlife consume. Most fringetrees develop from seeds, so determining the sex is impossible until the tree is older.
The black locust makes a good ornamental tree for many reasons. There are multiple cultivars to choose from, the tree seemingly grows in every type of soil and it creates beautiful clusters of white pea-like blooms in the spring months. The tree also features compound leaves, with seven to 19 smaller leaflets composing each individual leaf, arranged opposite each other on a long stem. Most black locusts grow to 40 or 50 feet in height, but some may get slightly larger. Black locust cultivars include dwarf forms, such as “Umbraculifera," a 20 feet tall specimen, and the hardy “Frisia," which can grow in some northern climates, such as New England. Black locust is an easy tree to transplant, but be aware that it can multiply, spreading both from seeds and from root suckers. This can be good if you have a large area that nothing will grow in, but bad if you allow the trees to keep spreading. The tree creates many twigs and has seedpods that drop off, making a potential mess beneath it.
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