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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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El5yghCPgmQ


Urban Forest Adaptive Planting List

(*) Designates Illinois native

Common Name Planting Site
Accolade™ Elm Street, Park/Residential, Legacy Ulmus 'Morton' Accolade™
Adirondack Crabapple Park/Residential Malus 'Adirondack'
American Hornbeam* Park/Residential Carpinus caroliniana
American Linden* N/R +35 yrs Tilia americana
American Smoketree Park/Residential Cotinus obovatus
American Sycamore* Park/Residential Platanus occidentalis
American Yellowwood* Park/Residential Cladrastis kentukea
Amur Maackia N/R +35 yrs Maackia amurensis
Autumn Blaze® Maple Park/Residential, Legacy Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred' Autumn Blaze®
Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry Park/Residential Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'
Autumn Gold Ginkgo Street, Park/Residential, Legacy Ginkgo biloba 'Autumn Gold'
Baldcypress* Street, Park/Residential Taxodium distichum
Black Gum* Park/Residential Nyssa sylvatica
Black Hills Spruce N/R +35 yrs Picea glauca ‘Densata’
Bloodgood Planetree Street, Park/Residential, Legacy Platanus x acerifolia 'Bloodgood'
Chinese Juniper Park/Residential, Legacy Juniperus chinensis 'Keteleeri'
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Park/Residential Cornus mas
Dawn Redwood Street, Park/Residential Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Eastern Redbud* Park/Residential Cercis canadensis
Eastern Redcedar* Park/Residential, Legacy Juniperus virginiana
Fastigiate English Oak Street, Park/Residential Quercus robur 'Fastigiata'
Fort McNair Red Horsechestnut Park/Residential Aesculus x carnea 'Ft. McNair'
Green Giant Arborvitae Park/Residential Thuja 'Green Giant'
Greenspire™ Linden N/R +35 yrs Tilia cordata 'PNI 6025' Greenspire™
Hackberry* Street, Park/Residential Celtis occidentalis
Hardy Pecan* Park/Residential, Legacy Carya illinoinensis
Ironwood* N/R +35 yrs Ostrya virginiana
Japanese Pagodatree Street, Park/Residential Sophora japonica
Katsuratree N/R +35 yrs Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Kentucky Coffeetree* Street, Park/Residential Gymnocladus dioicus
Northern Catalpa* Street, Park/Residential Catalpa speciosa
Norway Spruce N/R +35 yrs Picea abies
Persian Ironwood Park/Residential, Legacy Parrotia persica
Red Oak* Park/Residential Quercus rubra
Sargent Cherry N/R +35 yrs Prunus sargentii
Serbian Spruce N/R +35 yrs Picea omorika
Shagbark Hickory* N/R +35 yrs Carya ovata
Shingle Oak* Street, Park/Residential Quercus imbricaria
Silver Maple* Park/Residential, Legacy Acer saccharinum
Skyline® Honeylocust Street, Park/Residential Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis 'Skycole' Skyline®
Sugar Maple* Park/Residential Acer saccharum
Swamp White Oak* Street, Park/Residential Quercus bicolor
Sweetbay Magnolia Park/Residential Magnolia virginiana
Sweetgum* Park/Residential Liquidambar styraciflua
Tuliptree* Park/Residential Liriodendron tulipifera
Turkish Hazelnut Park/Residential Corylus colurna
Valley Forge American Elm Street, Park/Residential, Legacy Ulmus americana 'Valley Forge'
Village Green Japanese Zelkova Street, Park/Residential, Legacy Zelkova serrata 'Village Green'
White Oak* Park/Residential Quercus alba
Winter King Green Hawthorn Park/Residential Crataegus viridis 'Winter King'

KEY

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