There are few trees that can be called “perfect.” Only a few of those are suited to Oklahoma. In the wind down of the Good Trees for Oklahoma Series, I bring you the Serviceberry.
Sometimes called Juneberry, the Serviceberry is a sadly underused tree. Not too large, only 25 to 30 feet, tall and half as wide, they can be planted anywhere. It has a nice open canopy that allows light to pass through. That along with a lack of surface roots make for easy plantings and lawns under the tree.
Several species and variates exist, but the most commonly available is also the most versatile. Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry (A. X grandiflora), one of the Apple Serviceberries. In spring drooping clusters of white flowers open from pink buds. Later, new foliage is purple-ish and fades to a soft blue green. In early summer red berries from that you can fight the birds for as the taste like sweet mini apples and are great in pies and jams. The meat of the fruit is clear/white so mess from birds is not a major concern, but should be considered. Leaves develop orange or red coloration and remain that way for a considerable time. In winter the silvery bark shows off the strong, storm damage resistant branches; making this a four season tree. Uncommon cases of rust and fireblight can occur but are almost always minor.
Early Spring really is one of the best times to get started on your landscapes. Trees and shrubs get a huge benefit from being planted this time of year because of their dormancy cycle. For the same reason bare root roses typically do better than their potted counterparts, trees and shrubs usually do not have the stress and shock symptoms when planted in the colder months. Therefor, for the next few weeks, we will cover some of the better trees and shrubs for central Oklahoma. At the end of this series, we will have a post on the best ways to plant these plants to ensure the best success.
To start this series on Oklahoma-able trees and shrubs, we will cover the state tree, the Oklahoma Redbud (Cercis canadensis texensis 'Oklahoma'). Most of us have seen them, some of us like them, so I will be brief with the description. They are fast growing to 25-ish feet, and have a open rounded shape with mostly horizontal branching.
Photo courtesy Monrovia
Below: Easter Redbud (Top)
Oklahoma Redbud (Bottom)
This is where is is so important to read tags. Most Redbuds sold are not truly Oklahoma Redbuds. An Eastern Redbud has light green leaves and pale pink flowers, while the Texas Redbuds, of which the Oklahoma is a variety, have thicker darker and glossy leaves and the Oklahoma alone has dark and rich pink flowers. The Texas Redbuds are also more adapted to the heavy alkaline soils here in the plains. Other Eastern Redbuds will need extensive soil amending and close watch on the water. Especially when freshly planted. No matter what species or variety is chosen, better than average drainage and watering will be needed. They are not a low maintenance tree; stay tuned for our message on how to make just about any tree low maintenance. Besides site requirements, the only thing to look out for is too many trunks. Too many splits stunts growth, weakens the tree and invites water and insect infiltration that can split the tree.
Aside from our state tree there are plenty of good varieties:
If anyone out there has "dirt" instead of "soil," then Guara is for you. Let me introduce you to this little wonder: Guara lindheimeri is a perennial that will grow in every state, hot or cold. Typically two to four feet tall and wide and never needs dividing. It can take drought or wet conditions provided it is planted in well draining soil; here in Oklahoma, we add a lot of composted pine bark mulch to achieve that. You can expect blooms all season, spring to fall. Deadheading is not necessary but will encourage faster rebloom and discourage self seeding. All varieties have flowers in the white/pinkish to red family but they will provide different effects.
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