20 Drought Tolerant Trees

  • 01 of 20

    Amur Maple

    Picture of the Amur maple
    F. D. Richards/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Latin name: Acer ginnala or Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala
    • Other common names: Siberian maple
    • Native to: Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Siberia
    • USDA zones: 3 through 8
    • Height: 15' to 20' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    If you like the fall color displays that maple trees put on but don't have the room for a large tree, consider the Amur maple. This small species has both leaves and samaras that are brightly colored.

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  • 02 of 20

    Austrian Pine

    Picture of the Austrian pine
    Roberto Verzo/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Pinus nigra
    • Other common names: European black pine, Austrian black pine
    • Native to: Europe
    • USDA zones: 4 through 7
    • Height: 40' to 60' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    The Austrian pine is one of the more versatile pines and will grow in a wide variety of soil types and environmental conditions. It needs little maintenance besides watching out for any pests or diseases like bark beetles.

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  • 03 of 20

    Dawn Redwood

    Photo of dawn redwood
    waitscm/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
    • Native to: China
    • USDA zones: 4 through 8
    • Height: 75' to 100'+ tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    There are not very many species of deciduous conifers. These curious specimens straddle two worlds by bearing cones and losing their leaves. The dawn redwood fits this bill, with leaves that put on an autumn show before falling off.

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  • 04 of 20

    Eastern Redbud

    Picture of eastern redbud
    Ryan Somma/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Cercis canadensis
    • Other common names: Judas-tree, redbud
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA zones: 4 through 9
    • Height: 20' to 30' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    This is one of the earliest blooming trees and the profusion of pink blooms will be striking against a snow-covered landscape. It is also one of the money trees that attract hummingbirds.

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  • 05 of 20

    Ginkgo

    Picture of Ginkgo biloba
    rudi.s/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Latin name: Ginkgo biloba
    • Other common names: Japanese silver apricot, maidenhair tree
    • Native to: China
    • USDA zones: 3 through 8
    • Height: 50' to 75'+ tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Who doesn't love watching ginkgo leaves flutter in the wind? The ginkgo biloba tree is dioecious and only the male trees are usually planted because the females produce stinky fruits that mess up sidewalks.

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  • 06 of 20

    Goldenrain Tree

    Picture of Goldenrain Tree
    peganum/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Latin Name: Koelreuteria paniculata
    • Other common names: Varnish tree, pride-of-India, China tree, golden rain tree, panicled goldenrain tree
    • Native to: Eastern Asia
    • USDA zones: 5 through 9
    • Height: 20' to 40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    The goldenrain tree can handle a lack of water if it has had a season of full watering when first planted. If you are looking for a tree that will blossom in the middle of summer, this species fits the bill. It will produce a shower of yellow flowers that are followed by brown pods.

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  • 07 of 20

    Jacaranda

    Picture of Jacaranda mimosifolia
    mauroguanandi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Jacaranda mimosifolia
    • Other common names: Blue trumpet tree, blue jacaranda, Brazilian rosewood
    • Native to: South America
    • USDA zones: 9 through 11
    • Height: 5' to 50' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    Jacaranda trees are favored for their abundant display of purple blossoms. While you may have a lot of debris from the flowers and leaves, it is highly worth it to plant one of these wherever you can.

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  • 08 of 20

    Japanese Zelkova

    Picture of the Japanese zelkova
    briweldon/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Zelkova serrata
    • Other common names: Keyaki, saw-toothed zelkova
    • Native to: China, Korea, and Japan
    • USDA zones: 5 through 8
    • Height: 50' to 100' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    While elm trees used to be quite popular, Dutch elm disease has become more common and many people choose to plant other trees. Japanese zelkova is now used as an elm tree alternative, as it is related and has a similar appearance, but does not have anywhere near the same problems with Dutch elm.

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  • 09 of 20

    Kentucky Coffeetree

    Picture of the Kentucky coffee tree
    Crystl/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Gymnocladus dioicus
    • Other common names: Kentucky coffee tree
    • Native to: Midwestern North America
    • USDA zones: 3 through 8
    • Height: 60' to 100' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    When times were tough financially for the American colonists, they found that one substitute for coffee came from this tree. You should probably not try this concoction yourself, however, as ingesting large amounts can prove to be toxic.

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  • 10 of 20

    Mimosa Tree

    Image of the mimosa tree
    wlcutler/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Albizia julibrissin
    • Other common names: Silk tree, powder puff tree
    • Native to: Asia
    • USDA zones: 6 through 9
    • Height: 20' to 40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    While the mimosa tree can be invasive in some areas and is discouraged by many, it can be a good choice for drought tolerant areas where other trees have trouble. The airy pink blooms add interest and a pop of color. They are another tree that can attract hummingbirds as well.

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  • 11 of 20

    Pecan Tree

    Picture of the pecan tree
    Jasmine&Roses/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Carya illinoensis
    • Other common ​names: Sweet pecan, nuez encarcelada, nogal morado
    • Native to: North America
    • USDA zones: 5 through 9
    • Height: 70' to 100' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    The pecan tree is actually one type of hickory nut. They are a member of the Juglandaceae (walnut) family and are related to walnut trees. In addition to providing edible fruits and lumber, it can serve as an attractive shade tree that forms into a vase shape.

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  • 12 of 20

    Persian Ironwood

    Picture of the Persian ironwood
    Ryan Somma/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Latin name: Parrotia persica
    • Other common names: Parrotia, Persian parrotia
    • Native to: Northern Iran
    • USDA zones: 5 through 8
    • Height: 20' to 40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    One highlight of the Persian ironwood is its bark, which is a patchwork of shades of yellow, green, reddish-brown and pink. If you want a weeping form, look for the 'Pendula' cultivar.

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  • 13 of 20

    Purple Leaf Plum

    Image of purple leaf plum
    Dendroica cerulea/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
    • Latin name: Prunus cerasifera
    • Other common names: Myrobalan plum, purpleleaf plum, cherry plum
    • Native to: Asia and Europe
    • USDA zones: 4 through 9
    • Height: 15' to 25' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    One of the most common trees with purple leaves is the ​purple leaf plum. Though they are striking with their purple foliage and fruit, they can fall prey to some of the diseases and pest that seek out members of the Prunus genus.

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  • 14 of 20

    Red Buckeye

    Red buckeyes(Aesculus pavia) can be either a shrub or small tree, and is well loved by hummingbirds.
    hickoryrose/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Aesculus pavia
    • Other common names: Firecracker plant
    • Native to: Southern United States
    • USDA zones: 5 through 9
    • Height: 10' to 25'+ tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    The bright red flowers will definitely stand out in your yard and bring one of our favorite birds, the ruby-throated hummingbird (​Archilochus colubris).

    The saponins found in this plant are potentially poisonous for people and no part of the plant should be eaten. These saponins can also be used to make soaps.

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  • 15 of 20

    Scotch Pine

    This is also called the Scots pine
    treehouse1977/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Latin name: Pinus sylvestris
    • Other common names: Scots pine
    • Native to: Asia and Europe
    • USDA zones: 2 through 8
    • Height: 30' to 70' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun

    Chances are if you have a cut Christmas tree in your house, it is a Scotch pine. This species is the most popular choice for the holiday season. It also happens to be found in most areas throughout the world.

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  • 16 of 20

    Southern Magnolia

    Picture of the Southern magnolia
    wlcutler/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Magnolia grandiflora
    • Other common ​names: Bull bay
    • Native to: Southeastern United States
    • USDA zones: 6 through 10
    • Height: ​60' to 80' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    The white flowers on this evergreen tree can be up to a foot in diameter. Do not plant grass under this tree, or any other plants for that matter. They will struggle to grow properly.

    The southern magnolia is the state flower for Louisiana and Mississippi.

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  • 17 of 20

    Thornless Honeylocust

    Image of Thornless Honeylocust
    briweldon/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis
    • Other common names: Honeylocust, honey locust, common honeylocust
    • Native to: United States
    • USDA zones: 3 through 9
    • Height: 30' to 75' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Many honeylocusts planted in urban areas are this thornless variety. The source of the name "honeylocust" is the fact that the taste of the pod's pulp is sweet like honey.

    This tree will put on an autumn show, but be aware that there will be a LOT of the little leaves to clean up once the leaves fall off. Our streets would be filled with them each year.

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  • 18 of 20

    Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar

    Large weeping blue Atlas cedar
    Rich & Royal Hue/Flickr
    • Latin name: Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula'
    • Other common ​names: Weeping Atlas cedar, weeping blue cedar
    • Native to: Algeria and Morocco in the Atlas mountains
    • USDA zones: 6 through 9
    • Height: 10' tall and spreading
    • Exposure: Full sun, can take some light shade

    The weeping blue Atlas cedar is sure to be a focal point in the area that you plant it.

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  • 19 of 20

    Weeping Bottlebrush

    Picture of a weeping bottlebrush
    wallygrom/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Latin name: Callistemon viminalis
    • Native to: Australia
    • USDA zones: 9 through 11
    • Height: 15' to 20' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade, though full sun usually is needed for optimum flowering

    The weeping bottlebrush is a member of the Myrtaceae (myrtle) family and it gets its common name from the red stamens that look like the brushes used to clean bottles. You will need to prune it into a tree shape (how it is often found) unless you want it to become a rounded shrub.

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  • 20 of 20

    Yaupon Holly

    Photo of Yaupon holly
    hoyasmeg/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Latin name: Ilex vomitoria
    • Other common names: Yaupon, cassina, Indian blackdrink, evergreen holly, emetic holly, Christmas berry, cassine, evergreen cassena, cassena
    • Native to: Southeastern United States
    • USDA zones: 7 through 9
    • Height: 4' to 30' tall depending on cultivar
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    This large shrub or tree is in the Ilex genus, which is part of the Aquifoliaceae (holly) family. They can be used to create topiaries and hedges, as well as serving as a windbreak.

    The Yaupon holly is perfect for planting in a wildlife garden, as many birds and mammals love to eat the red or yellow drupes. If you do want the trees to have fruit, you will need to have more than one as they are dioecious.