List of Recommended Native Trees and Shrubs
Urban Forestry Staff reviews, recommends, and selects trees for a variety of sites and growing environments. Staff evaluates each place for site-specific variables when selecting the most appropriate trees for a site. Not every tree is right for every location, and the Urban Forestry staff uses our extensive tree knowledge, research, and site evaluation when selecting trees, mindful of how each tree and each site may change in the short- and long-term future.
This list of trees contains recommendations for trees planted in Fayetteville, including ideal locations and notes on each tree. It highlights how many species of butterflies and moths each of these trees can host. The list does not include all the insects, birds, reptiles, and small mammals that a tree can host. The Arkansas Native Plant Society was the catalyst for this updated list, and the Urban Forestry Advisory Board assisted with information.
Urban Forestry Staff is continuously researching and contemplating the use, space, species, and varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants used throughout the City. We seek expert advice in our community and are lucky to have professional connections with the Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, and Plant Pathology Departments at the University of Arkansas. We also have a healthy relationship with the Arkansas Forestry Commission and the Arkansas Native Plant Society. We utilize the wealth of knowledge surrounding us to benefit the City by helping Staff and residents choose the right tree for the right space.
The Danger of Single Species Planting
Historically, the use of a single species of street trees has had negative consequences. In the early 1900s, the American Chestnut, a popular and heavily planted street tree, was devastated by the chestnut blight. The blight caused large swaths of trees in the American streetscape to perish and left large gaps in the American landscape. A similar incident occurred with the spread of Dutch Elm disease. Due to the monoculture planting of elm trees as street trees, the impact was even more noticeable on streetscapes throughout the country. For these reasons and other global issues with plant disease, pests, and pathogens, Fayetteville's Urban Forestry Staff encourages and recommends a diverse planting palette. Using native species trees is vital because it benefits the local ecosystem and saves the City money and time. Native species are well suited for our climate and prosper in Northwest Arkansas's soils because they originated here.
Criteria for Selection for the List
The City Urban Forestry Staff carefully selects species of trees as each location offers unique challenges. The overall criteria include:
- Native or native cultivars first
- Trees tolerant of pollution, drought, and harsh conditions (salt/sand from winter and winds)
- Trees that create litter problems or produce large fruit are not used as street trees
- Tree shape – to ensure limbs are not too low and could create a visibility issue
- Small trees under power lines
- Trees with seasonal interest: fall color or blooms
- Amount of sun and shade in the existing conditions
- Speed of traffic
- Pedestrian intensity
- Visibility for traffic
- Maintenance issues
- Pest problems
- Longevity of the tree
- Type of Street Tree location:
- Urban tree well
- Large median (over 6' wide)
- Small median (usually the green space between a curb and sidewalk, less than 6' wide)
Street Tree Planting Scenarios
Urban Tree Well:
Trees planted in urban tree wells have the most difficulty surviving and thriving for several reasons: the structured soils do not offer the same nutrients as a forest; space for the root systems is limited; and exposure to pollutants. The tree's shape also has to be considered for pedestrian visibility, automobile visibility, and not interfering with buildings.
Large median spaces vary in size from 6 to 10 feet wide. The space is adequate for most trees, and Staff considers maintenance needs when choosing a tree to be planted in the medians. Trees that produce less litter and fruit are ideal for large medians. Finally, visibility is another characteristic when choosing a large median tree. Urban Forestry staff selects trees that allow for visibility under and through the canopy to increase vehicular safety.
Small Medians - Trees between Curb and Sidewalk (Tree Lawn Less than 6'):
Small medians are the green spaces between the curb and the sidewalk, typically less than six feet wide. In these cases, Staff prioritizes maintaining the structural integrity of the sidewalk and curb. Other factors included in choosing the right species for this condition are sightline visibility for vehicles and pedestrians, sun and shade conditions, the appropriate size for location in town (residential, commercial, downtown), watering needs, amount of litter produced, and environmental benefits.
This list does not contain every tree used in Fayetteville. Urban Forestry Staff does consider other trees not listed as viable options and will examine all proposed trees. There are construction techniques that allow larger trees in small locations. Staff will consider these techniques with appropriate construction details.