We hope that each of you, our readers, will enjoy and appreciate this article we present about these 5 Terrific United States Trees. It was certainly our pleasure to gather the information for you. May it provide you with both education and increased awareness.
Certainly, these few species listed herein represent only a portion of the similar marvels found in this area. It’s our belief, though, that they serve as excellent representations of the wonders that exist. Check out some of our other articles for similar marvels.
American Sweetgum Facts
- Leading off this compendium of these 5 Terrific United States Trees we give you similarly named wonder known as the American Sweetgum.
- The descriptive and informative term serves as only one of numerous common names for this intriguing variety of tree. It’s also known by such alternate terms as hazel pine, American storax, bilsted, redgum, alligatorwood, and satin-walnut, among others.
- Among scientific professionals, however, it’s better known by another moniker. Like so many such terms, though, that’s somewhat hard for the layperson to pronounce. That’s because the flora bears the technical title of the Liquidambar styraciflua.
- It received that name due to the efforts of the Swedish researcher, Carl Linnaeus. The esteemed botanist and zoologist accomplished the first acknowledgement of it as a separate and distinct species. He managed this noteworthy deed in 1753.
- Regardless of which moniker one uses, though, it remains an important species. In point of fact, it represents one of the most valuable forest trees in many portions of its range. It’s also now a highly popular ornamental tree in non-native regions of the world.
- Fortunately, the beautiful American Sweetgum appears to be maintaining a wild population base that’s both sizeable and presently relatively stable. That pleasant situation further seems to hold true throughout the entirety of its native range.
- Due to this, the IUCN presently lists it as Least Concern on its Red List. Nevertheless, it does faces certain potential threats to its existence. These naturally include habitat degradation and loss. Ongoing climate change also now represents a serious threat.
American Sweetgum Physical Description
The stunning American Sweetgum quickly impresses those who encounter it. It does so due to a combination of its remarkable visual appeal and its physical dimensions. The Angiosperm reaches its full potential in both regards, though, when it grows in the wild.
Depending on its location, it develops as either a mdeium-sized or large variety of tree. Specimens growing in natural conditions often attain heights measuring up to 150 ft (45 m). Those individuals in cultivation, meanwhile, rarely exceed 70 ft (20 m) in height.
A single trunk manifests in the case of this species, typically growing primarily upright. In mature specimens, this aspect of the plant achieves a diameter averaging between 2 – 3 ft (60 – 90 cm). The tree matures quickly, but often lives for up to 400 years.
Both the bark and branches present a unique appearance. The bark develops edgewise, and gives an appearance reminiscent of the scales of some reptiles. This led to the adaptation of the nickname alligatorwood. It’s also light brown, with red or gray shades.
The leaves of the American Sweetgum also merit notice. These typically develop with 5 sharply pointed lobes. Occasionally, however, these show either 3 or 7 lobes. This foliage manifests a rich, dark green hue. They also change to visually dazzling reds in the Autumn.
Its flowers usually appear in Spring, and often last until Autumn. These blooms most often measure 1 – 1.5 in (2.5 – 4 cm) in diameter. Intriguingly, these develop as greenish in color. When its fruit appears, it develops as numerous, round, and of the same size as the flowers.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Order: Saxifragales
- Family: Altingiaceae
- Genus: Liquidambar
- Species: L. styraciflua
American Sweetgum Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The American Sweetgum appears natively in a moderately large area of the globe. That area likely doesn’t surprise anyone though, given its name. Nonetheless, that name itself remains somewhat misleading. The majority of the species live in part of North America.
As that moniker implies, most of its range falls within the confines of the United States. More precisely, that zone of habitation consists of the eastern section of the country. Yet, scattered populations also appear in Mexico and parts of Central America.
The precise reason for this disjointed distribution remains undetermined. What is known, though, is its impressive adaptability in terms of habitat preferences. This beautiful product of evolution thrives equally well in both warm temperate regions and tropical areas.
It does, however, displays decided preferences in terms of the type of soil it likes. This Angiosperm thrives in regions of loamy, moist, acidic, sandy, well-drained, wet, clay soils. That’s pretty specific! It does not, though, tolerate drought conditions with great success.
Unlike many trees, the American Sweetgum attains pollination via the actions of the wind, rather than those of various local insect species. After falling from the tree, the fruit lies in a husk which can remain for months at a time. The winged seeds later blow away.
The wood of the tree has strong commericial uses. The resin of the tree, exuded through the bark when wounded, is used both in medicines and in chewing gum. Being high in protein, both the seeds and leaf buds themselves can be safely consumed by humans, as well.
Carolina Silverbell Facts
- Our next marvel of Nature appearing in this listing of 5 Terrific United States Trees is the beautiful flora named the Carolina Silverbell.
- This breathtaking flora most frequently goes by the only slightly descriptive common name in parts of its range. Yet it’s not the only general name it holds. It’s also known as the mountain silverbell, snowbell tree, and opossum wood, among others.
- Within the scientific community, however, it’s more often referred to by its technical name. Thankfuly, that’s a relatively easy term for the layperson to pronounce. That’s because this marvel of Nature bears the simple formal moniker of Halesia carolina.
- The magnficent creation of evolution received that easy to remember title due to the efforts of Carl Linnaeus. The esteemed Swedish botanist and zoologist accomplished the first official recognition of it as a separate and distinct species in the year 1758.
- Though it has a small native range, the Carolina Silverbell appears to be maintaining a population base that’s both stable and sufficient. That also seem to hold true throughout all parts of that range. The IUCN currently lists the plant as Least Concern.
- The species nevertheless does face some potential threats to its continued existence in the wild. Most of these stem from actions of man. They include such potential dangers as habitat loss and, of course, the ongoing perils posed by climate change.
Carolina Silverbell Physical Description
The visually stunning Carolina Silverbell commonly attains a height measuring roughly 66 ft (20 m). Truly exceptional specimens of the species do occur, though. These individuals sometimes attain a height equaling as much as 128 ft (39 m) in some portions of its range.
The gorgeous blooms of this magnificent tree never fail to catch the eye of the observer. These comparatively delicate small flowers also grow in bunches. Each typically develops as a white or a pale pink color. Each also develops in somewhat copious numbers.
Nevertheless, the fruit of the beautiful Carolina Silverbell must not be ignored, since it remains so popular with wildlife. This remains quite small, though, and light green in color. In Autumn, the numerous leaves on the tree usually change to a beautiful yellow color.
Even the rate of growth of this Angiosperm ranks as fully deserving of appreciation. However, the evolutionary reason for this remains a minor mystery. This characteristic nonetheless serves to make it a favorite among landscapers and homeowners alike.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Ericales
- Family: Styracaceae
- Genus: Halesia
- Species: H. carolina
Carolina Silverbell Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Even within the Northern Hemisphere, the stunning Carolina Silverbell evolved as endemic to only a highly limited section of North America. More specifically, this zone of habitation covers severely restricted portions of the east coast of the United States.
Even more precisely, the greatest concentration of the delicate wonder occurs in the Appalachian Mountains and western Piedmont regions of North Carolina. The marvelous tree also grows in large numbers in parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
However, smaller populations of the luscious Carolina Silverbell also now exist in many other regions of the United States, due to the intentional actions of man. Not only that, but it now even exists in portions of Europe, due to its popularity as an ornamental tree.
The visually appealing species does have specific climatic needs to thrive, though. It therefore most commonly grows in areas of moist soil, usually near free-flowing water. It also serves as a major component of the forest undergrowth within much of its range.
Red Maple Facts
- Holding down the third spot in this article about 5 Terrific United States Trees, the gorgeous Red Maple does so only due to random selection.
- The fully appropriate term used here serves as the most frequently applied common name for this remarkable variety of flora. It does have a few other titles, though. These include the quite similar names of the water maple, swamp maple, and soft maple.
- Within scientific circles, however, it’s perhaps better known by its technical name. Thankfully, that’s a comparatively simple term for the layperson to pronounce. That’s because this marvel of Nature and evolution bears the formal moniker of Acer rubrum.
- It received that simple name due to the efforts of the esteemed Swedish botanist and zoologist, Car Linnaeus. The renowned researcher accomplished the first recognition of the plant as a separate and distinct species. He managed that noteworthy feat in 1753.
- Regardless of which of these terms one chooses to employ, it remains an impressive species. The flora constitutes one of the major components of most forests in its native range. It also has multiple uses, including for its sweep sap, and as a source of lumber.
- Surprisingly, however, random evolution did create a potential hazard with this beautiful species. That’s because the leaves of the plant, especially when wilted or dead, are extremely toxic for horses. Among humans, the plant merely poses allergy issues.
- Fortunately, the beautiful Red Maple appears to be maintaining a population base that’s both stable and sizeable. That pleasantly surprising condition also seems to hold true throughout the entirey of its range. The IUCN, therefore, lists the tree as Least Concern.
- The wonder of Nature nevertheless does face some potential threats to its continued existence, at least. Like the majority of species, most of these stem from the actions of man. They include habitat loss, and, of course, the effects of ongoing climate change.
Red Maple Physical Description
The captivating Red Maple fully merits the attention and appreciation that it typically receives. That’s true since this product of botanical evolution possesses more than simple beauty for the observer. It also has some intriguing attributes that make it rather distinctive.
Sometimes the beautiful tree is easy to identify from its general appearance, yet other times it isn’t. That seemingly conflicting statement holds true due to an unexpected aspect of the species. In terms of morphology (its physical shape) it’s a highly variable variety of flora.
Generally, in terms of its size, it develops as either a medium or large species. Specimens achieve an average height range of between 90 – 120 ft (27 – 38 m). Exceptional individuals do occur, however. Some examples of the Angiosperm reach heights of up to 135 ft (41 m).
The diameter of its trunk also varies significantly between examples. This part of the tree usually ranges from 18 – 35 in (46 – 88 cm). Its bark appears a pale gray shade, and smooth, when young. As the plant matures, though, this changes to dark, and rough, with cracks.
The leaves of the gorgeous Red Maple also attain respectable measurements. This deciduous foliage typically measures 2 – 4 in (5 – 10 cm) in both length and width. Each also generally displays 3 -5 lobes, with serrated edges. Each also grows independently on a thin stem.
Yet it’s the coloring of this remarkable part of the tree that garners the most attention. It’s also the source of the common name. As with related plants, these present a bright green shade when young. When they change in Autumn, however, each presents a bright red hue.
Its delicate flowers develop as quite small, but appear in large clusters. These average 0.5 – 2 in (1 – 5 cm) in length. The tiny blooms show a bright red color. The fruit of the lovely tree develops a winged shape, and grows in pairs. These rarely exceed 1 in (2.5 cm) in width.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophytes
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Sapindaceae
- Genus: Acer
- Species: A. rubrum
Red Maple Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The aptly-named Red Maple evolved as native to a moderately large portion of the globe. That same zone of habitation also remains well known for its abundance of remarkable fauna and flora. That’s because it’s endemic to a portion of what’s now North America.
Within that greater range, though, it only appears naturally in the approximate northeastern section of the continent. That area of habitation extends from Newfoundland, in Canada to the north. From there, it extends through the southeastern sections of the United States.
In the latter country, it appears as far south as the states of Florida and Texas. Throughout that territory, the marvel of Nature is present most abundantly across the Appalachian Mountains, due to their conditions. That same range extends across most of its territory.
Although it prefers that mountainous region, the species displays a very high degree of adaptability. That trait’s manifested by its ability to do well in a variety of local systems and environments. Among other factors, the tree thrives in a wide range of soil conditions.
It makes its presence known in both moist and dry biomes. The tree grows equally well on dry ridges, and in swamps and peat bogs. Its ideal conditions, however, remain clear to scientists. The marvelous flora grows best in moderately well-drained moist locations.
Despite its size, the Red Maple typically represents one of the earliest flowering plants in the spring. These tend to germinate in early summer. Though individually small, the tree produces them in vast numbers. A single specimen can produce up to 91,000 in a season.
Its sap serves as a common food among humans, usually as a syrup. Yet in the wild, it also constitues a vital source of nutrition for many animals. Several Lepidoptera feed on its leaves, including the Rosy Maple Moth. Various deer and elk also eat the bark in winter.
Kauai hau kuahiwi
Kauai hau kuahiwi Facts
- The stunning Kauai hau kuahiwi is the only species in this gathering of 5 Terrific United States Trees not from the mainland.
- The hard to pronounce term the tree goes by serves as the common name for a beautiful variety of flowering plant in the mallow family. The common name for the plant comes directly from the native languge of the local Indigenous Peoples.
- Although this term may be difficult for the majority of people to pronounce, it’s likely more easily pronounced than its formal name. That’s because the official scientific term for his fascinting species is the tongue-twisting term of Hibiscadelphus distans.
- It’s also known sometimes as simply the hau kuahiwi. Presently, this wonder of Nature has no accepted common name in any other language. Regardless of which term one uses to refer to it, however, it remains a highly fascinating, and quite lovely, plant.
- Amazingly, the first known official recognition of it as a separate and distinct species did not occur until the year 1973. This scintifically noteworthy event represented the combined accomplishment of 2 researchers, L. Earl Bishop, and Derral Herbst.
- Sadly, though, the remarkable Kauai hau kuahiwi remains an extremely rare species within its native range. Due to this, the IUCN currently lists it as Critically Endangered. That listing appears on the organization’s published Red List of Threatened Species.
- Given the precariousness of its situation, it naturally faces many threats to its continued existence. Obviously, any amount of habitat loss poses a danger to it. Its greatest threat, however, likely comes in the form of the effects of climate change.
Kauai hau kuahiwi Physical Description
The marvelous Angiosperm known as the Kauai hau kuahiwi impresses those who know of it for reasons other than sheer size. That’s due to the fact that it’s also quite versatile in terms of its own shape. That’s because the plant appears as both a small tree and a shrub.
The maximum measured height of any individual specimen measured roughly 16 ft (5 m). Most of the other known trees of this species actually attained a much smaller height. The variations appear to depend upon local conditions for each individual example.
The bark of this tree also holds its own distinctive visual appeal. That holds true due to the fact that, both on the slim trunk and the numerous limbs, these typically possess a smooth texture. Mature specimens further generally develop a very well-rounded crown.
That foliage itself has a marvelous and distinctive nature. The leaves of the plant typically develop in a heart-shaped pattern. These further average between 1.6 – 3.9 in (4 – 10 cm) in length. Each also displays rounded serrations, as well as star-shaped hairs underneath.
The flowers of the Kauai hau kuahiwi also hold a unique appeal. These average 1.2 – 1.6 in (3 – 4 cm) in length. They’re also surrounded by small triangular structures. The perals begin life with a greenish yellow color. That, however, slowly changes to maroon shade over time.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperm
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Malvales
- Family: Malvaceae
- Genus: Hibiscadelphus
- Species: H. distans
Kauai hau kuahiwi Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Regrettably, the known area of habitation for the Kauai hau kuahiwi remains extremely limited. In point of fact, it only appears on a single island. More precisely, the plant only lives on the island of Kauaʻi in Hawaii, which forms part of the country of the United States.
Even there, however, the beautiful Angiosperm only inhabits a tiny section of the island. In fact, to the knowledge of researchers, only two naturally occuring concentrations of the species exist. Both of these, furthermore, appear in the Pu’u Ka Pele Forest Reserve.
Both populations also appear in one, somewhat rugged area there. That’s because the groupings inhabit the Lower Koaiʻe Canyon area. These populations consist of only 20 wild specimens, along with another 120 that have been reintroduced to the region.
Each of the concentrations also appear at either low or middle elevations. All known specimens inhabit an altitude that ranges between 1,000 – 1,800 ft (300 – 550 m) above sea level. These examples further live in the greatly eroded remains of dry, native forests.
The plant seems to have adapted to very steady environmental conditions, as well. The mean temperature where it lives only ranges between 65.3 -78.3 F (18.5 to 25.7 C). This rare plant also seems to require very dry, crumbly soil, overlaying basaltic bedrock.
Unfortunately, a landslide destroyed one previously known population of the Kauai hau kuahiwi 1989. Yet another grouping was completely destroyed in 1992, by the effects of Hurricane Iniki. Thankfully, two botanical gardens now cultivate the plant, though.
Bristlecone Pine Facts
- Closing out this compilation of 5 Terrific United States Trees we present the elder statesman of the group, the amazing Bristlecone Pine.
- Without doubt, the remarkable flora known by this distinctive name ranks as the oldest known non-clonal living species on Earth. However, the truly descriptive common term actually applies to a total of three separate related plant species.
- All three of these trees grows slowly, though, due to the particularly dry soil, cold conditions, high winds, and short growing seasons. But, yet another characteristic distinguishes these absolutely amazing trees from any similar species.
- That holds true due to a surprising condition. That’s the fact that they also never attains a very great height. Even the needles on this pine appear to be extremely long-lasting. That’s because many of them remain on the branches for as long as forty years.
- Genetically related and visually similar pines also happen to exist. Some of these creations of Nature even coexist with them in the same habitat range. This fact, therefore, often renders it quite difficult to distinguish one species from the other.
- Due to this challenging situation, an exact tally of the numbers of the Bristlecone Pine remains impossible to determine with complete accuracy. The IUCN, however, currently lists all three species of the Bristlecone Pine as Near Threatened.
Bristlecone Pine Physical Description
The amazing Bristlecone Pine truly remains one of the most unusual trees on the planet. In fact, it develops a most distinctive shape. That holds true because the trunks of the amazing type of pine develop in extremely gnarled shapes and patterns.
This obviously has the net result of giving the intriguing plant an unmistakable shape. The breathtaking tree also packs all of these mesmerizing qualities into a surprising package. That’s because the species remains relatively small compared to most relatives.
In fact, no known individuals ever achieve a height measuring greater than 60 ft (18.3 m). Amazingly, most individuals remain considerably shorter than that. Even its root system develops in a highly unusual nature. This occurs because this grows extremely branched.
This particular component of the remarkable tree also typically remains quite shallow in nature. Typically, however, only a few of the larger roots provide the necessary stability. Even the wood of the stunning Bristlecone Pine stands out from most other pines.
In point of fact, this astonishing feature of the fascinating three species develops as extremely dense in nature. Yet, it’s also typically quite resinous. This characteristic also has the benefit of providing the tree with resistance to insect pests, aiding in its longevity.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Pinophyta
- Class: Pinopsida
- Order: Pinales
- Family: Pinaceae
- Genus: Pinus
Bristlecone Pine Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Of great interest to those who appreciate the resourcefulness and tenacity of Nature remains the habitat that the astonishing Bristlecone Pine evolved as native to. That’s due to yet one more particularly amazing fact common to all specimens of the unique plant.
That’s true because the trees live only on a few remote, dry mountaintops located in six states in the United States, in North America. This awesome plant also typically grows at high altitudes ranging between 5,600 and 11,200 ft (1,700 and 3,400 m) in elevation.
The vast majority of individuals of each of the three species generally occur at high elevations. Incredibly, these appear at or above altitudes of 10,000 ft. It also grows in soil that contains high amounts of sandstone, limestone, calcium, and magnesium.
Another astonishing fact remains about the Bristlecone Pine. Al known specimens average 1,000 years old. In fact, the oldest one, bearing the name Methuselah, is currently 4,789 years old. But one more fact remains to make these trees true marvels of Nature.
That’s due to the fact that, given their incredibly great density, dead trees can remain standing for centuries. Thankfully, most surviving individual trees now reside within the confines of National Parks and thus enjoy a certain amount of protection.
5 Terrific United States Trees
We hope that each of you enjoyed reading, and hopefully learning from, this article we’ve written about these 5 Terrific United States Trees. It’s also our hope that doing so has left you with either a new or renewed appreciation for such wonders of Nature.
Unfortunately, however, many of their kindred around the world now find themselves facing strong threats to their continued existence as a species. Many of those dangers, in fact, stem from the actions of mankind. We must do all we can to protect and preserve them all.