Street Trees for Climate Resiliency in the Northeast


For urban foresters and homeowners in the city, finding appropriate street trees can be a difficult task. Whether it is a lack of good soil, mechanical injury from people and vehicles, long periods of drought or flooding, hard frosts and baking sun with no protection, high rates of pollution and soil compaction, or other factors - most species can’t handle the innumerable stressors that street trees face.

For that very reason, however, street tree plantings are an excellent testing ground for species that will be able to succeed in worst-case climate change scenarios. Using the standards for selecting climate resilient trees in the Northeast, below is a list of large (30+ft. ) trees that are the best-suited for planting as street trees between Washington D.C. and Boston. They are mostly southern species that support native biodiversity, can handle the toughest conditions, and are hardy as far north as New England. The best strategy is to plant many of these species in any given community in order to diminish the risk of failure, and to encourage a more robust neighborhood ecosystem.


  • Southern Sugar Maple

Acer barbatum

(USDA hardiness zone 6-9)


  • Red Maple

Acer rubrum

(USDA hardiness zone 3-9)


  • Silver Maple

Acer saccharinum

(USDA hardiness zone 3-9)


  • ‘Caddo’ Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum ‘Caddo’

(USDA hardiness zone 4-9)


  • River Birch

Betula nigra

(USDA hardiness zone 4-9)


  • Southern Hackberry

Celtis laevigata

(USDA hardiness zone 5-10)


  • Yellowwood

Cladrastis kentukea

(USDA hardiness zone 4-8)


  • Thornless Honeylocust

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis, cvs. ‘Millwood’, ‘Calhoun’, ‘Hershey’

(USDA hardiness zone 3-11)


  • Eastern Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana

(USDA hardiness zone 2-9)


  • Sweetgum

Liquidambar styraciflua

(USDA hardiness zone 5-10)


  • Southern Magnolia

Magnolia grandiflora

(USDA hardiness zone 6-10)


  • Blackgum

Nyssa sylvatica

(USDA hardiness zone 3-9)


  • American Sycamore

Platanus occidentalis

(USDA hardiness zone 4-9)


  • Mexican Sycamore

Platanus mexicana

(USDA hardiness zone 4-9)


  • Southern Red Oak

Quercus falcata

(USDA hardiness zone 5-9)


  • Overcup Oak

Quercus lyrata

(USDA hardiness zone 5-9)


  • Swamp Chestnut Oak

Quercus michauxii

(USDA hardiness zone 5-9)


  • Water Oak

Quercus nigra

(USDA hardiness zone 6-10)


  • Willow Oak

Quercus phellos

(USDA hardiness zone 5-9)


  • Post Oak

Quercus stellata

(USDA hardiness zone 5-9)


  • Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum

(USDA hardiness zone 4-11)


  • Pond Cypress

Taxodium ascendens

(USDA hardiness zone 5-11)


  • Carolina Basswood

Tilia caroliniana

(USDA hardiness zone 5-9)


  • American Elm

Ulmus americana cvs. ‘Hopeful’, ‘Jefferson’, ‘Princeton’

(USDA hardiness zone 2-10)