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The Best Flowering Trees in Western North Carolina

By Regina Sass ; Updated September 21, 2017
The fruit of the Washington hawthorn waiting for the birds.
red berries of hawthorn image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

Flowering trees in western North Carolina have to be able to stand up to colder temperatures than trees planted in the eastern part of the state. The east is warmed by the winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean, a factor from which the west does not benefit. Trees in the west need to be hardy to Zone six, where the average nighttime winter temperatures get down to 0 to minus 10 degrees.

Washington Hawthorn

Washington hawthorn ( Crataegus phaenopyrum) grows from 25 to 30 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 25 feet with sharp thorns on the branches. The tree produces leaves that are 1 to 3 inches long and almost as wide. The leaves start out red, turn dark green when they mature and finally orange or red in the fall. The small, white flowers appear in June and give way to a small red fruit that stays on the tree through the winter and is a favorite meal for the local birds. Plant Washington hawthorn in full sun and a moist, fertile soil.

Umbrella Magnolia

Umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) grows from 30 to 40 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 30 feet. The tree produces diamond-shaped leaves that grow from 8 to16 inches long that grow in clusters and spread out from the tips of the branches resembling the shape of an umbrella. The flowers bloom from April through June, are bowl shaped, pale yellow or cream colored and grow from 6 to 10 inches across. The flowers are followed by rose-colored, cone-shaped, fruit that grows from 4 to 6 inches long. Plant umbrella magnolia in partial to full shade and in a moist soil.


Sourwood ( Oxydendrum arboreum) is also known as the sorrel tree and lily-of-the-valley tree. The tree grows from 30 to 60 feet tall and produces green oblong leaves that grow up to 10 inches long and turn red, scarlet or purple in the fall. White fragrant flowers appear in the spring and early summer growing on 8- to10- inch long stems. Plant sourwood in full sun or partial shade and in a fertile, moist and well drained soil.

Rusty Black-haw

Rusty black-haw (Viburnum rufidulum) is also known as southern black-haw and grows from 10 to 25 feet tall. The tree produces glossy green oval leaves that grow from 2 to 4 inches long with patches of rust on the stems and the veins and turn to purple in the fall. The cream-colored flowers grow in clusters that measure 2 to 5 inches across and are followed by purple or blue-black, peanut-shaped fruits that grow in clusters on red stalks. Plant rusty black-haw in partial shade and a soil that is dry to moist.