White Blossom Trees

Trees with white blossoms grow and bloom throughout North America; sometimes the nonnative types are showier than those indigenous to a region are. The cold hardiness of such trees is a concern where frozen winters dominate, such as in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 and 3, while the warmer zones are often too hot and humid for other species. While the white flowers are certainly an appealing sight in a landscape, some of these trees have much more to offer in terms of their features.

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USDA Zones 2 and 3

The Manchurian cherry (Prunus masckii) is a versatile species, growing to 30 feet and serving as a street, patio or specimen tree. Native to Manchuria and the Korean peninsula, Manchurian cherry is suitable for the warmer parts of USDA zone 2 and all of zone 3. Its white blossoms emerge in April, generating a black drupe to attract wild birds. You can eat the fruit of the chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), but after one bite you will realize how the tree got its name. The astringent cherries work much better in jellies and pies, notes the Missouri Botanical Garden. Chokecherry grows in both zone 2 and 3, maturing to 30 feet and turning out aromatic white flowers with five petals. “Schubert” is a cultivar with purple summer foliage.

USDA Zone 4 and 5

The serviceberries (Amelanchier) and the hawthorns (Crataegus) are appropriate for growing in USDA zones 4 and 5 if you desire a white flowering effect. Use the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) near a patio, deck or foundation. This 15- to 20-foot high Japanese import handles the chill of a zone 4 winter and it delivers exceptional flowers in early spring. Each flower has between 12 and 18 petals; the petals do create a need for a clean-up beneath the tree after the flowers pass. Many flowering crabapple trees cannot tolerate the cold present in these zones, but cultivars such as “Amberina” and “Beverly” can and do. The former is just 10 feet tall, while Beverly grows to 25 feet. Both are solid choices for forming small groves.

USDA Zone 6 and 7

The eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis forma alba) deviates from the usual pink flowers associated with this tree, instead generating white ones before any leaves emerge in April. This species grows in USDA zones 6 and 7 in many kinds of situations, but not in wet ground. The tree is often wider than tall, growing to as high as 30 feet. The Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioica) grows as large as 75 feet in both zones, producing male and female specimens. Both feature white flowers, but the clusters on female trees are three times longer. The white spring flowers on the female trees change into brown-red seedpods as long as 10 inches, giving the Kentucky coffeetree continued interest after the flowers are gone.

USDA Zones 8,9 and 10

The female versions of the Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki) “Fuyu” cultivar have cream white flowers in May and June. This 30-foot high tree produces edible persimmon fruits, with these fruits especially ornamental when still on the limbs after the foliage comes off. The sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) grows to 60 feet within USDA zones 8 through 10, keeping its glossy, green leaves year round in these warm areas. The white flowers look like cups, are as wide as 3 inches, smell wonderful and begin blooming in May. In some cases, the blossoms keep blooming as summer progresses.


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