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.
Urban Forest Adaptive Planting List
(*) Designates Illinois native
|Common Name||Planting Site|
|Accolade™ Elm||Street, Park/Residential, Legacy|
|American Linden*||N/R +35 yrs|
|Amur Maackia||N/R +35 yrs|
|Autumn Blaze® Maple||Park/Residential, Legacy|
|Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry||Park/Residential|
|Autumn Gold Ginkgo||Street, Park/Residential, Legacy|
|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 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|
|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|
|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|
|Swamp White Oak*||Street, Park/Residential|
|Valley Forge American Elm||Street, Park/Residential, Legacy|
|Village Green Japanese Zelkova||Street, Park/Residential, Legacy|
|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