Types of trees in Massachusetts are adapted to its humid summers and snowy winters.

Types of Trees in Massachusetts

Whether you’re eager to identify different trees while hiking or want to grow native species in your garden, our team has come up with nine of the most common trees in Massachusetts to add to your garden. 

Massachusetts Trees To Grow in Your Garden

1. Swamp White Oak

Swamp White Oak Tree

  • The large crown makes it an excellent shade tree for big areas. 
  • Many homeowners grow this tree in windy areas because its robust root system will withstand the wind
  • With proper care, it can live for up to 300 years. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The Quercus alba’s bark peels when it’s still young, and then it becomes deeper and more ridged as the tree ages. 
  • The foliage turns to shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. 
  • White oak trees will thrive in slightly acidic soil with high mineral content. 
  • As the name suggests, this tree will need constant moisture, but it can withstand some dry periods. 
Common issues
  • Gypsy moths and variable oakleaf caterpillars usually feed on the leaves and affect the tree’s look. 
  • Cynipid wasps develop galls on the acorns and leaves. 
  • This tree is prone to powdery mildew and oak wilt. 

Nevertheless, this valued shade tree will thrive in your garden, with a canopy that can be 70 feet tall and 70 feet wide. It’s considered a low-maintenance tree once given room to spread and it is known that white Oak trees can live for a very long time.

American Dream is a popular cultivar noted for its pyramid-shaped canopy and dense foliage. It doesn’t compete with other Massachusetts native trees and shrubs so it will add more balance to your landscape. 

2. Red Maple

Iconic Red Maple Tree

  • Attracts hundreds of native birds and caterpillars, contributing to the biodiversity of your land.
  • Tea made from the bark can be used to treat coughs. 
  • Unlike other trees, this one can be easily transplanted so that you can change your landscape design. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • This tree can grow to a height of 70 feet tall, becoming one of the main attractions in your landscape. 
  • The canopy is round, and the tree gets rounder with age. 
  • The red blooms grow in the summer to add to the tree’s beauty. 
  • Buying your red maple tree from a reputable nursery will guarantee that it will stay in great shape and require minimum pruning. 
  • As one of the fastest deciduous trees of Massachusetts, this maple tree is a good choice for less experienced gardeners because it requires minimum care. 
  • The Acer rubrum tree achieves its best color in full sun. It thrives in slightly acidic, moist, well-draining soil. Also known as swamp maple, this tree prefers constant watering but can withstand some drought. 
Common issues
  • Maple shoot borer is common, especially when your tree doesn’t result from good nursery production. The tunnels it creates cause permanent damage to the plant. 
  • Since this tree is slow to establish, it’s usually prone to several issues like trunk injury, eventually leading to rot. 
  • Although it’s not toxic to humans, dogs, or cats, it’s toxic to horses and ponies. 

As one of the fastest-growing trees in Massachusetts, this stunning tree is an excellent addition to your garden, with outstanding red foliage that prevails all year.  It’s a popular choice for yards because it’s not as messy as silver maples, and it’s often confused with Japanese maples. It reaches its mature size within 25 years. 

3. Wild Cherry

Ornamental Wild Cherry Tree

  • It’s a fast-growing tree that attracts native birds to your garden as they love to feed on the berries. 
  • The foliage changes from yellow to red in the fall. When you scratch the twigs and branches, an almond-like odor is secreted.
  • People use these sour cherries to make jelly and jam. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • This tree usually grows to reach a height between 40 and 90 feet tall. 
  • Homeowners grow several cultivars as the flowering or shade trees on their properties. 
  • Despite this tree’s beauty, all the parts are toxic to animals. Therefore, access to this tree should be limited if you keep livestock on your property. 
  • The wild cherry tree thrives in moist, well-draining soil and should be grown in full sun. Although it can tolerate shade, it achieves its best flower and fruit in the sun.
  • You can grow several trees next to your wild cherry tree. This includes pines, oaks, elms, and American holly trees. 
Common issues
  • Leaf spot and knot diseases are very common. The tree can also suffer from a fungal infection that causes crown and root rot. 
  • Cherry slugs, thrips, and aphids feed on the leaves, leading to unproductive plants and unattractive foliage. Aphids also cause the leaves to curl and leave sticky honeydew on the plant, affecting the overall look and health of the tree. 

The black cherry tree isn’t related to cherries but more to chokeberries. Nevertheless, people grow it for its attractive foliage and showy white flowers, as it’s one of the most popular flowering trees native to Massachusetts

4. Eastern White Pine

Towering Eastern White Pine Tree

  • A lot of gardeners grow the Pinus strobus as a shade or windbreak tree thanks to its robust root system. 
  • The cones are common in Christmas and DIY decorations. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • This pine tree can grow 80 feet tall and 40 feet wide, with distinctive blue-green brush-like needles that add beauty to your native garden. 
  • The massive canopy can be pyramid-like or rounded, although some homeowners clip the tree to create a hedge. 
  • This tree is pretty easy to take care of, given its massive size. Pines thrive in full sun when grown in Massachusetts and prefer to grow in slightly acidic, well-draining soil. 
  • Regular pruning can be an issue unless you don’t mind this tree growing to a massive size. If you’re growing it in your garden, you should plant it about 20 feet away from nearby structures. 
Common issues
  • Unfortunately, these pine trees are prone to various pests and diseases. If white pine blister rust is expected in your area, you’d better grow another tree because it will kill it.
  • Unsuitable soil pH levels and urban pollution can greatly impact this tree’s health and look. 

This evergreen tree will probably grow to be one of the biggest conifers in your native Bay State garden. Unlike other pines in the east, this tree has five needles arranged in a brush-like fashion. It’s quite easy to propagate from seeds. 

5. Gray Alder

Hardy Gray Alder Tree

  • The roots are home to nitrogen-fixing bacteria that restore the soil conditions in your land. 
  • The leaves can be used to soothe inflammation and infections. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • This shrubby tree belongs to the birch family and grows to a height of 60 feet tall. 
  • It grows purple catkins in early spring, and the male flowers are longer than the female ones. 
  • It can live up to 100 years and is characterized by its beautiful gray bark.
  • The gray alder tree thrives in different types of soil, especially dry and infertile soils. 
  • Avoid growing garlic and other alliums that stunt the growth of nitrogen-fixing plants. 
Common issues
  • The shallow root system can threaten nearby structures, so you might need to think carefully before growing this alder tree on your land. It has root suckers, especially in the northern parts of its range, and might spread to affect the growth of nearby plants. 
  • Phytophthora disease of alder might attack it, and it’s prone to aphid infestations that affect the look of the foliage. 

Also known as mountain alder, this tree might be one of the rare trees in Massachusetts because it can’t tolerate competing with invasive species.

The tree has grayish-brown hairy twigs that make it easy to identify. The wood and bark are used in smoking meat, 

6. Green Ash

Versatile Green Ash Tree

  • The leaves can soothe arthritis and inflammation. 
  • Fast-growing tree in disturbed areas, adding about 25 feet to its height in ten years.
  • The tree can retain the soil near water features. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • The Fraxinus pennsylvanica tree can grow about 70 feet tall and 50 feet wide. 
  • It grows non-showy purple flowers in the spring and summer.
  • This tree will thrive in full sun, as the shade will stunt its growth. 
  • This tree isn’t particular about pH levels but thrives in fertile soil. 
  • The soil should be moist, but the tree can tolerate short periods of drought. 
Common issues
  • This tree is messy as it produces a lot of seeds, and the limbs break easily. Cleanup is usually a big issue for homeowners and explains why seedless cultivars are quite popular. 
  • The emerald ash borer attacks and kills this tree, so it might be banned in your area. Unfortunately, since 2012, ash trees in Massachusetts have been banned, so you might have to check with the local authorities before growing one in your garden. 

As a hardy and fast-growing deciduous tree, this was once one of the most popular trees grown on public and private properties.

A tree that shows signs of dying from the top down has been attacked by the EBA. A professional arborist might help save it. 

7. American Elm

Majestic American Elm Tree

  • This beautiful tree has a vase-like canopy and the branches arch, allowing people and vehicles to pass under, making it an excellent street tree. 
  • It’s easy to transplant and provides amazing shade, so it doesn’t represent a serious commitment like pitch pines and different oaks that can’t be easily transplanted. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • It’s well known for its oval double-serrated leaves that come in a bright shade of green, making it an outstanding shade tree on your land. 
  • It can grow to a massive height of 70 feet, but most of the time, it’s only 40 or 50 feet tall. 
  • This elm tree can adapt to different types of soils, including alkaline and acidic soils. This explains the tree’s popularity.
  • It prefers rich, well-draining soil and will achieve its best foliage in full sun. 
Common issues
  • The Dutch elm disease originated in Asia and quickly destroyed these trees’ population in the US because they weren’t immune to the infection. 
  • The tree is prone to elm yellows, wetwood, and cockscomb gall aphid infestations. 

This is the official state tree of Massachusetts, and there’s no wonder that many homeowners prefer to grow it on their properties.

It’s also known as the water elm or white elm. Some cultivars, like Jefferson, are highly resistant to Dutch elm disease.  There is a detailed guide on how to identify an Elm tree.

8. Gray Birch

Delicate Gray Birch Tree

  • Homeowners prefer this tree because it’s tolerant of urban pollution.
  • It provides the perfect nesting site for various native songbirds and attracts butterflies to your Bay State garden. 
  • This one is native to the northeastern region of the US and will thrive in different types of soil. This makes it appealing to homeowners who struggle to grow trees in cold weather. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • Birch trees are fast growers, usually reaching 40 feet tall. 
  • Although the tree’s bark doesn’t peel, people love its clump-forming branches. In addition, people use the tree’s wood to make furniture pieces. 
  • The non-showy flowers bloom in April. 
  • This tree thrives in various light conditions, including partial shade. 
  • It’s an excellent choice for poor soils, as it’s pretty tolerant of them. The soil needs to be kept moist. 
Common issues
  • This tree can live up to 50 years, but it might be attacked by the bronze birch borer, which makes leaves turn yellow before they fall off the branches. 
  • Birch leaf miners and birch skeletonizers will attack this tree when it’s not watered. 

Compared to other big tree species, this one is considered one of the small native trees Massachusetts. It gets its name from its beautiful gray bark. However, the branches turn reddish-brown as the tree matures. 

9. American Holly

Festive American Holly Tree

  • This tree has a pyramid-shaped canopy that adds beauty to various landscape designs.
  • Various homeowners prefer growing this tree because it doesn’t reach massive sizes, with a height of 30 feet tall. 
Distinguishing characteristics
  • It’s dioecious, so pollination between male and female trees is necessary to produce the flowers and the red berries. So, you should grow male and female trees on your property to enjoy the growth of attractive red berries. 
  • Shade-loving shrubs will thrive next to your American holly tree. This includes boxwood shrubs and begonias that won’t tolerate the strong sunlight. 
  • This tree thrives in various soil types but won’t tolerate alkaline or dense soil. 
  • It prefers well-draining, moist, slightly acidic soil, and amending the soil will be necessary. The tree thrives in full sun but can tolerate some partial shade. 
Common issues
  • Tar spot usually attacks this tree in the moist spring weather when the temperature is relatively low. It might also be affected by cankers. 
  • Leaf miners, spider mites, and scale will attack the leaves and ruin their look. 
  • When not given enough space or when grown in boggy locations, fungal infestations will be an issue. In this case, the tree should probably be removed. 

Known as the Christmas holly, this tree is an excellent choice for the southern regions of Massachusetts. People usually grow several trees to create a privacy screen. In this case, a space of at least 5 feet should be left between different trees to allow them to grow. 


There are a lot of cool choices for your native Massachusetts garden as long you pick trees that are well-adapted to the climate. 

  • Some trees, like white oaks, can spread wide, so you should consider this choice only if you have enough space for massive trees.
  • Trees like pines can be grown for shade or to block the wind on your property.
  • You should examine the toxicity of different trees because some trees, like the wild cherry tree, can be toxic to animals.
  • Trees like the American holly can be used for decorations and DIY projects

With our gardening advice, we’re happy that your landscape choices will be easy. 




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