Every year in the eastern United States thousands of trees are cut down to clear space for new development. Thousands more are destroyed by introduced diseases, surface mining, road construction, and timber operations. Although environmental organizations are doing a great job in protecting some areas, economic forces and population pressures are often too strong to resist. As a result, forests are being destroyed, and many native tree species are becoming increasingly rare.
The purpose of this website is to assist people who want to help preserve these rare species by growing them on their own properties or other suitable locations in their communities. Information is provided on how to select and obtain the needed plants, and how to grow them.
As the population of a species declines, the shrinking of its gene pool reduces its ability to resist new diseases and adapt to changing environments. Therefore the preservation of genetic diversity is very important, and every plant is a potential source of needed genetic material. Even if you grow a tree in an urban area, wildlife could still scatter its seeds to distant forests, thereby producing new plants which might interbreed with other members of the species.
Your tree might also inspire other people who see it to join the preservation effort. As noted elsewhere on this site, several threatened tree species have been saved, or are being saved, by human intervention.
Many of our rare trees make attractive garden and landscape plants. And because they are adapted to the native environment, they are often easier to grow than plants imported from other parts of the world. Local wildlife also generally prefers the flowers, food and habitat offered by native plants.
But rare species are often hard to obtain, not only because of their rarity, but also because the commercial nursery industry generally promotes other types of plants. Fortunately this situation is improving, as a number of specialist nurseries are now producing and selling these rare natives. One of the purposes of this website is to help you find the tree you are looking for.
Among the trees described on this site, Mountain Camellia, Lost Franklinia, Cinnamon Clethra, American Elm, and Carolina Silverbell are especially attractive in the home landscape. Trees suitable for a woodlot or forest planting include Bigleaf Magnolia, Black Walnut, American Chestnut, and Chalk Maple. And good choices for wildlife habitat include American Persimmon, Pagoda Dogwood, Mountain Holly, and Dwarf Chestnut Oak.
A. Most of the information presented on this website comes from books and other publications, but some is based on my personal observations. Unfortunately, I don't have first-hand experience with every species discussed here. In addition, for several species I have encountered discrepancies in the information provided by published sources. As a result, although I have tried to point out any uncertainties, I can't be sure that everything on the site is completely accurate. If there are any errors, I apologize in advance for any problems which they may cause.
B. Please note that this site doesn't cover every rare tree species native to the eastern forests. Some are omitted because practical difficulties and/or esthetic considerations make them less likely to be of interest to the typical land owner.
C. The distribution maps on this site are adapted from public domain maps originally created by the U. S. Forest Service. A large collection of such maps can be found here. For use on this site, maps were downloaded in PDF format, then cropped and converted to JPG format.
D. NatureServe conservation statuses were obtained from individual species reports given on the NatureServe website. NatureServe. 2005. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 4.2. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer.
E. Tree Trail is a non-commercial site created solely to promote the preservation of rare native trees. Advertising is not permitted, and nothing is offered for sale. Some links are provided as a convenience to visitors, but no endorsement of any product, organization, or enterprise is implied.
F. In web directories, this site is normally found in the categories of Gardening, Landscaping, Agriculture, Ecology, or Nature.
This website created and maintained by Billy Bruce Winkles