Staff Picks: Shade Trees


It should not be a surprise that here at Franz Witte we love our shade trees. Temperatures are undoubtedly rising now that July is here, so the staff decided to give some insight on their favorite trees to lounge under! Trees undoubtedly lower the temperature through shade, but they also cool the air through a process called “transpiration cooling.” Trees release water into the atmosphere through their leaves via transpiration. As the water turns from a liquid into a vapor, the surrounding atmosphere is cooled. Stop by the garden center today to transform your landscape using one of these top picks.

Seneca, Franz Witte President:

‘Emerald City’ Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera

Height: 55’

Spread: 25’

Bloom color: Yellow with orange center

Fall color: Bright yellow

Noteworthy characteristics: Clay soil tolerant, deer resistant

A refined cultivar that is fast growing with uniform and upright shape. Glossy green leaves and pollinator friendly flowers give way to bright, clear yellow fall color. ‘Emerald City’ dominates the landscape with it’s shade and strong structure. Seneca is rightfully Franz Witte’s president because this tree was almost the whole staff’s first pick!

Sara, Vice President of Garden Center:

Redpointe® Maple

Acer rubrum ‘Frank Jr.’ PP16769

Height: 45’

Spread: 30’

Fall color: Bright red

Noteworthy characteristics: Highly adaptable, resistance to leaf chlorosis

Plant this tree for it’s gorgeous bright red fall color and broad pyramidal shape. This red maple cultivar grows faster than the straight species and makes a great shade tree for more compact areas. If you are looking for a fall-star, Redpointe® is the way to go because it’s fall color emerges earlier than most of the trees in the Treasure Valley.

Tracy, Sales Team Member:

‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry

Amelanchier x grandiflora

Height: 20’

Spread: 15’

Bloom color: White

Fall color: Bright red-orange

Noteworthy characteristics: Bird friendly, fire wise, poor soil tolerant, showy flowers

A perfect shade tree for smaller yards and three season interest ranging from flowers in spring to berries and bright color in fall. Flowers attract pollinators while berries are edible and attract birds. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ suckers less than other cultivars and tolerates some drought.

Lily, Sales Team Member:

‘Autumn Gold’ Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba

Height: 45’

Spread: 35’

Fall color: Golden yellow

Noteworthy characteristics: Clay soil tolerant, heritage tree

‘Autumn Gold’ is a male cultivar with a narrow form in youth that broadens with maturity. Leaves are uniquely fan-shaped and turn a spectacular golden yellow in the fall (especially when backlit by morning sun), which persists for a few weeks. Leaves drop rapidly to form a golden carpet. This tree is a slow grower, but it’s fall color and symmetrical branches make for an attractive specimen.

Bekah, Sales Team Member:

‘Sensation’ Boxelder Maple  

Acer negundo

Height: 45’

Spread: 30’

Fall color: Bright red

Noteworthy characteristics: Multicolor foliage consisting of orange, green, and yellow; highly adaptable including wet or dry soils

Coppery-red foliage emerges in the spring before maturing into a soft green color. Copper undertones remain beneath the green throughout the summer. Striking red leaves put on a fiery fall show. This tree has a semi-formal rounded form and is fast growing. Tolerant of urban pollution, most soil conditions, and highly adaptable to most locations.  

Riley, Sales Team Member & Writer:

‘Fort Mcnair’ Red Horse Chestnut

Aesculus x carnea

Height: 35’

Spread: 25’

Fall color: Copper yellow

Noteworthy characteristics: Fire wise, specimen, showy flowers

Broad, rounded canopy consisting of dense, dark green foliage makes for a beautiful specimen tree in the landscape. Showy pink flowers emerge in the spring and uniquely bloom after the leaves emerge, making the flowers pop. Large, palmate leaves turn coppery-yellow in the fall. ‘Fort Mcnair’ is an excellent specimen for shade and beauty.

By Riley Rehberg

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