Canopy trees

Red maple 'Armstrong'
(Acer rubrum)
 ©Janet Allen Armstrong maple

In addition to creating habitat, this cultivar of the red maple (the tree sticking up over the roof line) also helps cool the house. It's one of the few largish trees we could have fit between our house and our neighbor's house. (It's also the tree we would have had to remove if we had gotten solar panels.)

Wildlife: Squirrels and birds; used by inchworms and relied on by Rosy maple moth, oval-based prominent, Retarded dagger moth, Orange-humped maple worm, Maple looper, Baltimore bomolocha
Larval host: Cecropia moth and other moths
Deer resistance: No
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
More info from Wildflower Center

Sugar maple
(Acer saccharum)
 ©Janet Allen Sugar maple(Enlarge)

We have a sugar maple in our front yard, but the arborist says it will survive only another ten years or so (and that was a few years ago). When it finally gives out, we hope to cut it to the greatest height where it's still safe (since it's next to the sidewalk and road) and leave it as a snag for cavity-nesting birds. It will be a perfect place for a trumpet vine. I've seen one growing up a pole before and it very attractive. So even after the tree dies, it will still be life-giving.

Wildlife: Birds
More info from Wildflower Center

Kentucky coffee tree
(Gymnocladus dioicus)
 ©Janet Allen Kentucky coffee tree

This Kentucky coffee tree is our second largest tree after our sugar maple. Actually this tree was transplanted a few times before we found the right spot, but even so, this tree is about 40 feet tall already, and it's just about 25 years old. We know its age because our now-adult son collected the seed (actually a nut) from a local arboretum when he was in nursery school!

Larval host: Bicolored honey locust moth, Bisected honey locust moth
More info from Wildflower Center

Kentucky coffee tree
(Gymnocladus dioicus)
 ©Janet Allen Kentucky coffeetree in spring

The Kentucky coffeetree takes its time in spring. People often ask me whether it's dead. It does look dead since other trees are already leafed out, but once it gets going, it's beautiful. This tree provides shade that isn't as dense as some, so plants such as our spicebushes grow well under it. On the other hand, it doesn't have as high habitat value in terms of supporting a lot of insect life.

Black cherry tree
(Prunus serotina)
 ©Janet Allen Black cherry

As far as we know, our black cherry is a volunteer. It was only about 6-ft. tall when we moved here, and we didn't know what it was for many years. If we had known, we would have kept it from being a triple-trunked tree. It's very large now, but still seems healthy, though it has a very weak crotch. It's a favorite hangout for birds. Wild cherry trees are host plants for the red-spotted purple, the tiger swallowtail, the white admiral, and the spring azure butterflies.

Wildlife: Fruit used by 33 species of birds, many mammals
Larval host: Eastern tiger swallowtail, Cherry gall azure, Viceroy, Columbia silkmoth, Promethea moth, Small-eyed sphinx moth, Wild cherry sphinx moth, Banded tussock moth, Band-edged prominent, Spotted apatelodes
Deer resistance:
** SPECIAL VALUE TO NATIVE BEES **
** SPECIAL VALUE TO BUMBLE BEES **
** SUPPORTS CONSERVATION BIOLOGICAL CONTROL **
More info from Wildflower Center

Red oak
(Quercus rubra)
 ©Janet Allen A young oak in summer

The oak is a "Biodiversity All-Star." Tallamy's research (see his book Bringing Nature Home) has found that it supports 534 species of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), which he uses as a proxy for gauging the total number of insects supported.

Wildlife: Birds and mammals, hummingbirds
Larval host: Gray hairstreak
Deer resistance:
More info from Wildflower Center

Red oak
(Quercus rubra)
 ©Janet Allen Oak in fall

The red oak (Q. rubra) is especially beautiful in the fall.

We planted it in the back of the yard, but we hope it doesn't grow so fast that it starts shading our vegetable garden. It's meant to be a legacy tree for the next generation.

Tulip poplar
(Liriodendron tulipifera)
 ©Janet Allen Tulip poplar

We've left this volunteer, but only as a shrub. It is indeed a canopy tree, and would soon outgrow the limited space in our front yard. I don't know how long we'll leave it in this small spot. We've left it, though, as an experiment, since it's the larval host plant for butterflies such as the tiger swallowtail.

Wildlife: Favorite nesting tree for birds; flowers for hummingbirds
Larval host: Eastern tiger swallowtail, Tuliptree silkmoth
More info from Wildflower Center