20 Drought Tolerant Trees

  • 01 of 20

    Amur Maple

    Picture of the Amur maple
    Image by F. D. Richards via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Acer ginnala or Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala
    • Other Common Names: Siberian maple
    • Native to: Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Siberia
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 15-20' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Growing profile for the Amur maple
    • 12 Species of Maple Trees
    • How to Identify a Maple Tree

    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
    Image by Roberto Verzo via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Pinus nigra
    • Other Common Names: European black pine, Austrian black pine
    • Native to: Europe
    • USDA Zones: 4-7
    • Height: 40-60' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Growing profile for the Austrian pine
    • 40 Pine Tree Species

    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
    Image by waitscm via Flickr

    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
    Image by Ryan Somma via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Cercis canadensis
    • Other Common Names: Judas-tree, redbud
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-9
    • Height: 20-30' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • The Eastern redbud is one tree to attract hummingbirds

    I once rescued a redbud tree from a discard pile. It was somehow not fit for sale (I do not recall seeing anything really wrong with it at the time), but it lives on at my grandparents' house in California. This is one of the earliest blooming trees and the profusion of pink blooms will be striking against a snow covered landscape.

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  • 05 of 20


    Picture of Ginkgo biloba
    Image by rudi.s via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Ginkgo biloba
    • Other Common Names: Japanese silver apricot, maidenhair tree
    • Native to: China
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 50-75'+ tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Growing profile for the ginkgo biloba

    I loved watching the ginkgo leaves flutter in the wind as I walked across my college campus. This 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
    Image by peganum via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Koelreuteria paniculata
    • Other Common Names: Varnish tree, pride-of-India, China tree, golden rain tree, panicled goldenraintree
    • Native to: Eastern Asia
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 20-40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Growing profile for the goldenrain tree

    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


    Picture of Jacaranda mimosifolia
    Image by mauroguanandi via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Jacaranda mimosifolia
    • Other Common Names: Blue trumpet tree, blue jacaranda, Brazilian rose wood
    • Native to: South America
    • USDA Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 5-50' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Growing profile for the jacaranda

    I saw jacaranda trees everywhere in California when I was growing up. They are favored for their abundant display of purple blossoms. While you may have a lot of debris from the flowers and leaves, I think 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
    Image by briweldon via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Zelkova serrata
    • Other Common Names: Keyaki, saw-toothed zelkova
    • Native to: China, Korea, and Japan
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 50-100' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Growing profile for the Japanese zelkova

    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
    Image by Crystl via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Gymnocladus dioicus
    • Other Common Names: Kentucky coffee tree
    • Native to: Midwestern North America
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: 60-100' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Growing profile for the Kentucky coffeetree

    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
    Image by wlcutler via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Albizia julibrissin
    • Other Common Names: Silk tree, powder puff tree
    • Native to: Asia
    • USDA Zones: 6-9
    • Height: 20-40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • The mimosa tree will attract hummingbirds.

    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.

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  • 11 of 20

    Pecan Tree

    Picture of the pecan tree
    Image by Jasmine&Roses via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Carya illinoensis
    • Other Common Names: Sweet pecan, nuez encarcelada, nogal morado
    • Native to: North America
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 70-100' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Types of Nuts

    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.

    Delicious Pecan Recipes to Check Out:

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  • 12 of 20

    Persian Ironwood

    Picture of the Persian ironwood
    Image by Ryan Somma via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Parrotia persica
    • Other Common Names: Parrotia, Persian parrotia
    • Native to: Northern Iran
    • USDA Zones: 5-8
    • Height: 20-40' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Growing profile for the Persian ironwood

    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. I am personally fond of the 'Vanessa' cultivar based solely on the name.

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  • 13 of 20

    Purple Leaf Plum

    Image of purple leaf plum
    Image by Dendroica cerulea via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Prunus cerasifera
    • Other Common Names: Myrobalan plum, purpleleaf plum, cherry plum
    • Native to: Asia and Europe
    • USDA Zones: 4-9
    • Height: 15-25' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Growing profile for the purple leaf plum
    • Trees and shrubs with purple leaves
    • OtherPrunus trees and shrubs

    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.
    Photo : Flickr user hickoryrose
    • Latin Name: Aesculus pavia
    • Other Common Names: Firecracker plant
    • Native to: Southern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-9
    • Height: 10-25'+ tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • The red buckeye is loved by hummingbirds.
    • What Is a Buckeye?

    The bright red flowers will definitely stand out in your yard and bring one of my 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
    Image by treehouse1977 via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Pinus sylvestris
    • Other Common Names: Scots pine
    • Native to: Asia and Europe
    • USDA Zones: 2-8
    • Height: 30-70' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun
    • Growing profile for the Scotch pine
    • 40 Species of Pine Trees
    • Scotch pine as a Christmas tree

    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 the most areas throughout the world.

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  • 16 of 20

    Southern Magnolia

    Picture of the Southern magnolia
    Image by wlcutler via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Magnolia grandiflora
    • Other Common Names: Bull bay
    • Native to: Southeastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 6-10
    • Height: 60-80' 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
    Image by briweldon via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis
    • Other Common Names: Honeylocust, honey locust, common honeylocust
    • Native to: United States
    • USDA Zones: 3-9
    • Height: 30-75' 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
    Glorious mature specimen at National Arboretum. Photo © Flikr user Rich & Royal Hue
    • 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: 6-9
    • Height: 10' tall and spreading
    • Exposure: Full sun, can take some light shade
    • Growing profile for the weeping blue Atlas cedar

    At the water conservation demonstration garden where I was employed, there was a small potted specimen of weeping blue Atlas cedar that had been trained into a serpentine shape. It was certainly a focal point in that area!

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  • 19 of 20

    Weeping Bottlebrush

    Picture of a weeping bottlebrush
    Image by wallygrom via Flickr
    • Latin Name: Callistemon viminalis
    • Native to: Australia
    • USDA Zones: 9-11
    • Height: 15-20' tall
    • Exposure: Full sun to part shade, though full sun usually is needed for optimum flowering
    • Growing profile for the weeping bottlebrush

    This member of the Myrtaceae (myrtle) family 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
    Image by hoyasmeg via Flickr
    • 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: 7-9
    • Height: 4-30' 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.