Missouri is home to some of the most spectacular greenery in the United States of America.
Inhabitants of Missouri are regularly treated to incredible flowerings, shade, and leaf displays not found in many other parts of America.
But these trees still need to be cared for and crafted in order to get the best from them. Whilst some of these trees are exclusive to Missouri, many of them are found in other parts of America as well.
In this article, we explore five native Missouri trees and how they need to be properly cared for to maximize their health and street appeal.
It’s important to treat each species of tree by its unique requirements as they all require different treatments. For example, all the trees experience some deadwood, but the way you deal with it and when you do with it is different.
Likewise, all trees need to be trimmed and shaped, but the way you trim each tree and shape them is different because trimming to a certain extent will have a different impact on the tree and the way it grows back.
Pin Oak (Quercus Palustris)
A Pin Oak can be an attraction on a landscape if it is well kept, but if it is left to grow on its own without any guidance, it can become very unpleasant to look at.
The Pin Oak thrives in wet conditions and because of that it is also sometimes referred to as a swamp oak or a water oak. It was first noted and studied scientifically in the 18th century.
It is found in many neighborhoods around Missouri and grows quite quickly. The Pin Oak thrives under full sunlight with lots of space to grow both up and out. Six hours of sunlight per day is the preferred amount of sunshine for a Pin Oak.
Pin Oaks are popular for their shade properties and can grow to a maximum height of around 70 feet.
As the tree grows, the branches extend outwards and some of the internal branches can die off and become deadwood. This deadwood needs to be managed to prevent the wood from falling down causing injury and also structural issues for the tree.
The main thing to be aware of when maintaining a Pin Oak is ensuring the tree does not develop co-dominant stems. The Pin Oak is designed to be a single-stem tree and extreme care should be taken to ensure all young Pin Oaks are shaped in this way.
In addition to shaping the structure of the Pin Oak and removing deadwood, they are also at risk of iron chlorosis. This can be identified through the yellowing of leaves and it not only creates a poor appearance but can also be detrimental to the health of the tree if left untreated. When considering what to do it is important to contact your local experts to get a second opinion.
Silver Maple (Acer Saccharinum)
The Silver Maple is a very prominent tree around Saint Louis and nearby areas. It is sometimes referred to as the soft Maple as a result of its very soft and weak branches. The Silver Maple has a reputation for being a great shade tree because of its broad leaf cover.
The Silver Maple is very robust and can handle being transplanted and often self-germinates from its seeds.
It thrives on sunlight and would be best suited to four to six hours of unfiltered sunlight each day.
Silver Maples are popular with the local wildlife. Squirrels enjoy eating the buds in spring and the tree also provides nesting sites for ducks.
It is a soft wood and therefore brittle because it is such a fast-growing tree. This is a common characteristic in many fast-growing trees.
Silver Maples are often aggressively cut back because of the speed at which they grow, but in many cases, this will amplify the problem. The aggressive cutting stimulates further growth in the tree, which creates a bigger problem than was initially apparent.
If you are stuck with a Silver Maple somehow near a building, then you can still trim it to keep it away from the building, but it is advisable not to cut it back too severely, because this will only stimulate further growth.
When Silver Maples are young and just starting to grow is the best time to shape them and create a stable branch structure.
Given the amount of deadwood and the brittle nature of the Silver Maple branches, it is important to have Silver Maple trees inspected by an accredited tree professional every couple of years to ensure it is still safe and not going to pose a danger to any passers-by.
American Elm (Ulmus Americana)
The American Elm may be one of the most recognizable street trees in Missouri. It used to line nearly all city roadways but it is not quite as prominent nowadays.
You will find the American Elm all around Saint Louis and surrounding areas. It grew to be one of the most prolific trees in the area but this popularity came at a cost.
It became subject to the Dutch Elm Disease (DED), which has had a significant negative impact on the population of American Elms in the last 20 to 25 years.
Experts believe that the Dutch Elm Disease has killed hundreds of millions of American Elm trees.
A disease-resistant strain of the American Elm has evolved and is slowly making a comeback in those same places where American Elms were killed off as a result of the Dutch Elm Disease.
American Elms need to be maintained primarily through the removal of deadwood. If deadwood is left then this can then rot away and increase the chance of attracting additional insects.
Given its vulnerability to Dutch Elm Disease, American Elms are typically not being planted and sold anymore. But if you have an existing American Elm tree that you are trying to maintain, then keeping your eye out for Dutch Elm Disease and also keeping on top of the deadwood is the best way to look after it.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida)
As the official tree of Missouri, the Flowering Dogwood is a favorite amongst local Missourians.
Locals and tree and flower lovers always look forward to mid-spring with anticipation given the flowering display.
They provide not only a two-inch white flower but also bear red fruit.
Flowering dogwoods tend to be small trees, only growing up to 34 feet in height.
From a maintenance and care perspective, the Flowering Dogwood is relatively maintenance-free.
They benefit from some water at the peak of summer to reduce potential heat stress, but otherwise keeping an eye out for insects is a smart thing to do. Even though insects are unlikely to kill the tree they may ruin some of the flowers and fruit.
The people and visitors of Missouri are spoilt by an abundance of beautiful shade-filled trees.
However, the presence of these trees does require some work to cultivate and maintain both their appearance and ability to provide that shade.
The main maintenance tasks with these native trees are to periodically have the trees assessed and have a qualified arborist make decisions and recommendations regarding deadwood removal.
Expert advice on this matter is important because each of the different trees needs to have deadwood considered with different assumptions in mind because of the impact of severe cutbacks.