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Common Trees in New Jersey

maple image by Vladimirs Koskins from

New Jersey deserves its nickname, “The Garden State.” New Jersey gardeners have their choice of both deciduous and evergreen trees for any size property. Small trees--those that reach a height of 50 feet and under--make good specimen plants for small areas and as shade plants near a deck or patio. Larger trees need a more expansive lawn and can be used in groups as tree lines between properties. Trees add an important dimension to a landscaping plan. They are the anchor plants that set the theme.

Silver Maple

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) grows from 70 to 100 feet tall, a spread of 40 to 60 feet and produces 3- to 5-inch-long leaves that are green on top and silver on the bottom and turn a combination of green, yellow and brown in the fall. Each tree produces both male and female flowers that bloom in spring. Silver maple prefers sun and can take a wide variety of soil types.

Scarlet Oak

Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) grows from 75 to 150 feet tall and produces green leaves up to 3 inches long that turn scarlet in the fall and small yellow flowers in April. The tree will not produce acorns until it is about 20 years old. It needs full sun and a moist soil that is not supplemented with fertilizer. Squirrels, chipmunks, mice, deer, wild turkey, blue jays and redheaded woodpeckers will stop by and help themselves to the acorns.

Jersey Pine

Jersey pine (Pinus virginiana) is also known as Virginia pine. It is an evergreen that grows from 15 to 40 feet tall and produces short needles on long spreading branches and reddish-brown cones that are sharp to the touch. The tree needs full sun. It will not survive in the shadow of taller trees. The soil should be moist, well drained and not fertilized. Jersey pine attracts birds and butterflies.

River Birch

River birch (Betula nigra) grows to about 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide. It can have one single straight trunk or a trunk that splits into as many as five smaller trunks. The tree produces leaves that are dark green on the top and silver on the bottom and turn to chartreuse, yellow or yellow-brown in the fall. It also produces both male and female flowers. The male flowers are small and grow on 3-inch-long spikes. The female flowers are small and give way to small seeds in the spring. River birch needs full to partial sun and prefers moist soils, but can take dry or wet soils as well.

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