Trees for 2050

Many common trees in Chicago’s urban forests will adapt to a steadily warming climate through 2050, according to a 2013 study led by Dr. Andrew Bell, the Garden’s former curator of woody plants.

Dr. Bell and his team examined the Garden’s collection and surveyed nearly 100 public gardens* in similar geographic conditions to narrow down the City of Chicago’s urban tree planting list to species and cultivars that displayed good health and vigor. They further analyzed 50 of the highest performers and found that 40 would continue to thrive under worst-case warming scenarios.

The trees were evaluated for their predicted performance in three types of urban settings: sidewalk plantings, parks and residential settings, and public gardens and other legacy sites. Descriptions and appropriate planting sites suggested by the study are presented in this interactive database. Visitors can use our GPS-enabled GardenGuide App to find examples of these trees at the Garden.

* The data set included only cultivated trees (i.e. trees that were deliberately planted) growing in public gardens. Spontaneously-growing trees were excluded, whether native or nonnative, and whether growing in urban or natural forest conditions.

Note: The inclusion of trademarked plants in this study does not imply endorsement by the Chicago Botanic Garden, or criticism of others not included.

For more information:
Trees for 2050 (Blog post)
Tree Climate Maps
Press Release
Watch a short presentation about the study given by Bell in 2014:

Urban Forest Adaptive Planting List

(*) Designates Illinois native

Common Name Planting Site
Accolade™ Elm Street, Park/Residential, Legacy
Adirondack Crabapple Park/Residential
American Hornbeam* Park/Residential
American Linden* N/R +35 yrs
American Smoketree Park/Residential
American Sycamore* Park/Residential
American Yellowwood* Park/Residential
Amur Maackia N/R +35 yrs
Autumn Blaze® Maple Park/Residential, Legacy
Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry Park/Residential
Autumn Gold Ginkgo Street, Park/Residential, Legacy
Baldcypress* Street, Park/Residential
Black Gum* Park/Residential
Black Hills Spruce N/R +35 yrs
Bloodgood Planetree Street, Park/Residential, Legacy
Chinese Juniper Park/Residential, Legacy
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Park/Residential
Dawn Redwood Street, Park/Residential
Eastern Redbud* Park/Residential
Eastern Redcedar* Park/Residential, Legacy
Fastigiate English Oak Street, Park/Residential
Fort McNair Red Horsechestnut Park/Residential
Green Giant Arborvitae Park/Residential
Greenspire™ Linden N/R +35 yrs
Hackberry* Street, Park/Residential
Hardy Pecan* Park/Residential, Legacy
Ironwood* N/R +35 yrs
Japanese Pagodatree Street, Park/Residential
Katsuratree N/R +35 yrs
Kentucky Coffeetree* Street, Park/Residential
Northern Catalpa* Street, Park/Residential
Norway Spruce N/R +35 yrs
Persian Ironwood Park/Residential, Legacy
Red Oak* Park/Residential
Sargent Cherry N/R +35 yrs
Serbian Spruce N/R +35 yrs
Shagbark Hickory* N/R +35 yrs
Shingle Oak* Street, Park/Residential
Silver Maple* Park/Residential, Legacy
Skyline® Honeylocust Street, Park/Residential
Sugar Maple* Park/Residential
Swamp White Oak* Street, Park/Residential
Sweetbay Magnolia Park/Residential
Sweetgum* Park/Residential
Tuliptree* Park/Residential
Turkish Hazelnut Park/Residential
Valley Forge American Elm Street, Park/Residential, Legacy
Village Green Japanese Zelkova Street, Park/Residential, Legacy
White Oak* Park/Residential
Winter King Green Hawthorn Park/Residential


Street: Appropriate for restricted size planting sites; recommended by the City of Chicago Urban Tree Planting List
Park/Residential: Appropriate for landscaped planting sites including public parks, residential property, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.
Legacy: For plantings with an expected life span of more than 60 years; retained 50 percent or more climate suitability in models for the decade 2080
N/R +35 yrs: Not recommended for plantings with an expected life span of more than 35 years