For those looking to plant a tree or many trees, we recommend planting native species for their role in establishing a heathy ecosystem. They grow in cooperation with other plants to provide food and habitat for wildlife and insects that sustain the food chain.
Different species have different growth habits and requirements; for example, some species are less ideal for typical urban lots. Our provincial tree, the Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) is ill-suited for the city, quickly outgrowing its allotted space and intolerant to salt and pollution.
Below we provide a list of native trees suitable for growing in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec. A brief summary identifies their main characteristics, needs, and suitability for different growing conditions and sites. We also provide some links for further information about growing each tree. Information about these links is provided under Resources.
Species need to be hardy and suitable for our area. Changes in climate – temperature swings, hotter summers, milder winters, longer growing seasons – mean that some species typical in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec may struggle under new conditions. Boreal species such as White Spruce and Black Spruce may not tolerate hot, dry summers. Some projections show White Pine extirpated south of Ottawa before the end of the century. On the hand, it may be possible to grow native species typically found in southern Ontario; e.g. some of the hardier Carolinian forest trees. These borderline hardy species have been identified in our descriptions below. Given the speed of change, some trees will need a helping hand in moving northward as they cannot naturally disseminate quickly enough. What’s important is maintaining the biodiversity of our woodlands and landscapes with hardy native species as the mix shifts north.
PLANTING INFORMATION RESOURCES
Ontario Tree Atlas – A provincial government web site, the Ontario Tree Atlas provides rudimentary planting tips for native trees and shrubs in our region.
Morton Arboretum – The famous Morton Arboretum near Chicago, Illinois is a world-leading centre for tree science. Their web site has excellent information about trees and their growing requirements. While northern Illinois is roughly one zone warmer than our area (USDA Zone 5, which is Canada Zone 6) and consists of prairie grasslands and oak savanna, we share many of the same native hardy species. Most of the information on their site is still valid for these species in our region.