Types of Flowering Trees

Flower of the red horse chestnut tree.
The red horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea) is not as common as the white variety. Photos from Japan, Asia and the world/Moment/Getty Images
  • 01 of 17

    Star Magnolia Trees

    Star magnolia picture.
    Star Magnolia an Early Bloomer Star magnolia picture. David Beaulieu

    Flowering trees are among the most prized specimens of the yard, making a bold statement and often heralding the return of warmer weather in the North. While trees, in general, help form the "backbone" of the landscape, flowering trees add pizazz to a yard in a way that few other plants can. Even if you're already well aware of the value of these blossoming specimens, you'll want to view my photos -- as well as those in its sister gallery, "Flowering Trees" -- to gain a...MORE wider perspective on the types of flowering trees available.

    Star magnolia tree is one of the first trees to bloom in spring. As you can see in the photo, the maple providing the backdrop has barely come into bud.

    The Star magnolia tree is smaller than the saucer magnolias, reaching a height of 15' to 20' (with a similar spread), but star magnolia tree (Magnolia stellata) more than makes up for it by beating its taller relative into bloom. Grow star magnolias in planting zones 4 to 8 in full sun.

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  • 02 of 17

    Jane Magnolia

    'Jane' magnolia picture. Jane magnolia flowers are pink.
    Jane Magnolia Another Small Flowering Tree 'Jane' magnolia picture. David Beaulieu

    Like the entry in the preceding photo, 'Jane' magnolia is a relatively small tree.

    A 'Jane' magnolia tree at maturity will stand about 10 to 15 feet tall, with a spread of 10 feet. Grow Jane magnolia in planting zones 4 to 7 in partial sun (specifically, select a planting location that receives full sun in the morning but some shade in the afternoon).

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  • 03 of 17

    Ivory Chalice Magnolia

    Picture of 'Ivory Chalice' magnolia.
    Photo of a White Magnolia Flower Picture of 'Ivory Chalice' magnolia. David Beaulieu

    'Ivory Chalice' magnolias, unlike the other magnolia trees considered here, produce white flowers.

    Ivory Chalice magnolia trees reach a height at maturity of about 30 to 40 feet tall, with a similar spread. Grow Ivory Chalice magnolia in planting zones 4 to 8 in full sun to partial sun.

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  • 04 of 17

    Heaven Scent Magnolia

    Heaven Scent magnolia trees are sometimes misspelled 'Heaven Sent' magnolia tree.
    Magnolia With a Heavenly Scent Heaven Scent magnolia tree picture. David Beaulieu

    'Heaven Scent' magnolia receives its name from its fragrant flowers.

    And it doesn't disappoint! As the photo shows, 'Heaven Scent' magnolia blossoms are deep pink at the base, tapering off to a lighter pink at the tip. 'Heaven Scent' magnolia trees reach an average height at maturity of about 20 feet tall, although they can grow larger. Plant it in planting zones 5 to 9 in full sun to partial shade.

    The name is occasionally misspelled as "Heaven Sent," but the mistake is understandable:...MORE between their good looks and pleasing smell, these magnolias may well be thought of as heaven sent!

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  • 05 of 17


    Oleander Photo. As this photo shows, oleander flowers can be pink; another common color is white.
    Small Flowering Tree Oleander picture. David Beaulieu

    Oleander (Nerium oleander) is another plant variously thought of as a small tree or tall shrub, reaching 20 feet in height.

    As you can see from the photo, oleander is a type of flowering tree that can produce striking, deep pink blossoms (white is also available).

    If you wish to have it grow as a tree, train your Oleander by removing suckers. Grow oleander tree in planting zones 8 to10 in full sun. But if children or pets will be around, you may want to reconsider planting oleander trees, since...MORE they are poisonous plants.

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  • 06 of 17

    Red Bird of Paradise

    Drought-tolerant red bird of paradise (photo) is common in Arizona and California.
    Type of Flowering Tree for the Desert Red bird of paradise picture. David Beaulieu

    The "red" bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), pictured here, actually has more of an orange flower, with some red mixed in.

    Red paradise plants thrive in dry conditions and, once established, are reliable drought resistant plants. Don't confuse them with Strelitzia, a better-known "bird of paradise flower". Like oleander (preceding picture), red bird of paradise is a tall shrub or short tree for zones 8 to 10 and is toxic (specifically, the seeds).

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  • 07 of 17

    Witch Hazel

    Witch hazel tree picture. Witch hazel is a flowering tree, as this photo shows.
    Tree or Shrub With Yellow Flowers in Early Spring, Fall Witch hazel tree picture. David Beaulieu

    Also available in shrub form, some witch hazels are early spring bloomers. I grow the 'Arnold Promise' cultivar, myself.

    In North America, you'll commonly find two types of witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana and Hamamelis vernalis. In the latter name, you can see the word "vernal," which means spring. So it's easy to remember that this type flowers in spring.

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  • 08 of 17

    Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry

    Purple-leaf sand cherry picture. Purple-leaf sand cherry can be trained into a tree.
    Purple Leaves, Light Pink Flowers Purple-leaf sand cherry picture. David Beaulieu

    Purple-leaf sand cherry, another example of a plant that can be trained as a tree or left to grow naturally as a shrub, is one of the ornamental cherry trees.

    Grow purple-leaf sand cherry in planting zones 3 to 8 in full sun. Purple leaf sand cherry has a moderate growth rate, eventually attaining a height of 7 to 14 feet, with a spread of 7 to 10 feet. The light pink flowers are fragrant. An added bonus with this type of flowering tree is its striking summer-long purple leaves, making it popular...MORE with those who seek plants with dark foliage or flowers.

    Its best season is spring, when it is in bloom and when its leaves are reddish-purple. But that red color re-enters its leaves in fall, making autumn its second best season.

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  • 09 of 17

    Rose of Sharon

    Lavender rose of sharon picture.
    Althea: Small Flowering Tree, Large Flowering Shrub Rose of Sharon photo. David Beaulieu

    Althea, or "rose of Sharon," is thought of by many homeowners as being a small flowering tree.

    But rose of Sharon is usually classified as a large flowering shrub. Besides the lavender-colored blossoms shown in this photo, althea plants can also produce red flowers, white flowers, or the pink flowers of a cultivar such as Sugar Tip. We're still waiting for a true blue flower, but some types of altheas come close, such as Blue Chiffon.

    Rose of Sharon is a useful plant for those paying attention to...MORE sequence of bloom, because it blooms late in the growing season. Plant this type of flowering tree as a complement to those that bloom in spring and early summer.

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  • 10 of 17

    Smoke Tree

    Smoke Tree gets its name from fuzzy flowers. Smoke tree flowers form a sort of cloud, as pic shows.
    AKA "Smoke Bush" Smoke tree picture. David Beaulieu

    Smoke tree is also referred to as "smoke bush," because this specimen can be either a large shrub or a small tree.

    However you classify it, smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) puts on one "smoking" display when it blooms, producing clusters of flowers that have a fuzzy appearance. Smoke tree attains a height of 10 to 15 feet with a spread of 12 feet. It can be grown in planting zones 5 to 8 in full sun. Since this is one of the shrubs that flower on new wood, prune it in late winter to early spring.

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  • 11 of 17

    Wolf Eyes

    Picture of 'Wolf Eyes' dogwood. Wolf Eyes is a variegated Japanese dogwood (kousa).
    Kousa Dogwood With Variegated Leaves Picture of 'Wolf Eyes' dogwood. Wolf Eyes is a variegated Japanese dogwood. David Beaulieu

    One type of flowering tree you can't go wrong with is 'Wolf Eyes,' a kind of Kousa dogwood.

    'Wolf Eyes' Kousa dogwood flowers in late spring to early summer, for a period as long as 6 weeks. But the fact that it is a vigorously flowering tree is only one reason to grow Wolf Eyes. An attractive red berry succeeds the blossoms. Moreover, the foliage is variegated. In autumn, the leaves develop streaks ranging in color from pink to red.

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  • 12 of 17

    Red Chestnut Tree

    Picture of red chestnut tree. As the photo shows, red chestnut tree's flowers live up to the name.
    Picture of Horse Chestnut (Horsechestnut) With Red Flowers Picture of red chestnut tree flower. David Beaulieu

    Don't confuse horse chestnut trees with true American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata). The latter, like American elm trees, have been decimated by disease.

    While American chestnut trees produce the edible nuts that are so famous, horse chestnut trees (also spelled "horsechestnut") are grown mainly for their looks. The red-flowering kind (Aesculus x carnea) is especially attractive. It is a hybrid between the common horse chestnut and the red buckeye tree.

    Red horse chestnut trees reach a mature...MORE height of 35 to 40 feet and can be grown in planting zones 5 to 8. They are deer-resistant. 

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  • 13 of 17

    Horsechestnut Tree

    Picture of white horsechestnut tree in flower. Besides white flowers, horse chestnut trees be red.
    White-Flowered Type Picture of white horsechestnut tree in flower. David Beaulieu

    Although not as attractive as a flowering tree as the red type of horsechestnut (prior photo), the more common white-flowered kind does make a good shade tree.

    It grows taller than the red-flowering type, reaching 60 feet tall or more in height at maturity. Bearing the scientific name Aesculus hippocastanum, the common horsechestnut tree is native to Europe. Grow it in planting zones 5 to 8 in full sun to partial sun.

    A relative of the horsechestnut is the Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra), which is...MORE native to North America.

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  • 14 of 17

    Mountain Ash Trees

    Mountain ash tree picture. Better known for its berries, mountain ash trees bear white flowers.
    Popular Type of Flowering Tree With Berries Mountain ash tree flower picture. David Beaulieu

    Mountain ash trees (Sorbus americana) are perhaps best known for their orangy-red berry clusters.

    You've probably noticed the berries in other people's yards while out driving around. But in case you're looking for a white flowering tree, note that mountain ash trees are one of your options. They produce flat-topped white flower clusters in spring. Grow mountain ash trees in planting zones 3 to 8 in full sun to partial sun. They reach a mature height of 30 feet tall.

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  • 15 of 17

    Tulip Tree Flower

    Tulip tree flower picture. It's easy to see from this picture where tulip tree gets its name.
    Type of Flowering Tree Related to Magnolias Tulip tree flower picture. David Beaulieu

    If you compare the flower of the tulip tree with that of the magnolias pictured earlier in this photo gallery, you'll probably make the connection.

    Tulip trees are, indeed, related to magnolias. You can learn more about them by reading my full article on tulip trees.

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  • 16 of 17

    Southern Magnolia Seed Pod

    Seed pod of Southern magnolia opening to reveal red seeds.
    Seed pod of Southern magnolia opening to reveal red seeds. David Beaulieu

    Southern magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora) are emblematic of the southeastern United States. When we think of the beauty of this classic specimen, two things usually come to mind first:

    1. Their large white flowers.
    2. Their evergreen leaves.

    But their seed pods can also be quite attractive, as is revealed in this picture. 

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  • 17 of 17

    Tree of Heaven

    Picture of tree of heaven.
    An Invasive Pest Picture of tree of heaven. David Beaulieu

    Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is an invasive plant native to the Far East.

    I include Ailanthus altissima among these photos of the different kinds of flowering trees not to encourage you to grow it, but simply to help you identify it. Commonly exceeding 70 feet in height, this is a flowering tree you'll often see growing along roadsides in urban areas of zones 5 to 8. Tree of heaven will tolerate just about any conditions, which is why it thrives so well -- even where it isn't...MORE wanted! Even though we don't normally speak of trees as "weeds," tree of heaven certainly deserves to be lumped together with the other weed plants.