The Norman Transcript

May 3, 2013

Here’s some of the top 10 worst trees


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — I’ve witnessed so much heartache after planting the following trees. With a plethora of choices on the market, there is no need to plant any I mention here. Just because these trees are readily available, doesn’t make them good choices.

There are always exceptions to every rule, but what I’ll cover is commonly encountered in these problem species. This week, I’ll countdown numbers 10 through 6. The remaining five will be covered in my next article.

10.) Dogwoods: Dogwoods are finicky species in our neck of the woods. They may survive in eastern Oklahoma, but in south central Oklahoma, don’t even bother. They hate heat, drought and scorching sun. There are many other flowering trees that do well in harsh conditions, for example, Chitalpa and Crapemyrtles.

9.) Purple-Leaved Plum: This tree may have pretty foliage, but it is just a non-fruiting version of a traditional plum. These trees are fast growing and short lived, making them a weak-wooded bad choice. In addition, like peaches and plum, this tree is attractive to many pests such as peach tree borer. Once you get borers, it is just a matter of time.

8.) Willows: I may be scorned for trashing a symbol of the south, but all willows are a bad choice. Like any fast-growing trees, they are weak-wooded, meaning in the next ice storm, tornado or downburst, you will be cleaning up broken limbs or trees taken out altogether. They are awful at shedding leaves and love moisture, seeking out water, even if it means invading plumbing pipes and septic systems. For the foliage of a willow without the mess, try a Desert Willow, which is actually a relative of the Southern Catalpa.

7.) Pin Oak: The Norman area is full of 50-year-old or older Pin Oak trees. Unlike the rest of the Oak family, Pin Oaks are fast growing and acid loving. These huge trees will have chronically yellow leaves, called iron chlorosis, due to our high pH soils limiting this element. Fighting iron chlorosis is an uphill battle. You are better off with any other choice in the Oak family, namely Shumard or Chinkapin.

6.) Japanese Maple: Homeowners love this tree. In my opinion, it is one of the most overplanted small trees. Unless you can provide a really sheltered, cool area, Japanese Maples will not be happy. This doesn’t mean next to a brick home in full sun. The delicate foliage of Japanese Maples was not made for Oklahoma.

The leaves tatter in high winds and scorch in our heat. You also will waste copious amounts of water trying to keep them alive.

Tracey Payton Miller is Cleveland County’s horticulture extension educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension.