Arbor Day is the day when we celebrate the role of trees in our lives. From creating the air we breathe, to supplying wood for us to build houses, to providing habitat for wildlife, trees are a pretty important part of our world.
On this Arbor Day, plant a tree that is native to Mississippi to get the most benefit. Native trees are well-suited for the growing conditions in your backyard and they provide the most benefits to native wildlife.
Some of our favorite native trees are listed below:
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
This is a great evergreen tree to plant for wildlife. Birds and mammals eat the berries, several songbirds nest in the branches, and it’s an important cover plant during the winter.
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
With leaves that turn bright red in the fall, this is a showstopper. It has a rapid growth rate and is shade tolerant. The seeds, buds, and flowers are eaten by small mammals, birds, and even deer. Several cavity-nesting birds will use this tree including pileated woodpeckers.
Oaks (Quercus spp.)
There are many red and white oaks that are native to Mississippi. Most oaks have a rapid growth rate and have a moderate to high drought tolerance. Acorns produced by oak trees are eaten by squirrels, mice, deer, wild turkey, and birds. Ask your local nursery about which oak species is suited for your needs.
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
In the early spring, this tree produces large numbers of small, reddish pink flowers that attract lots of native bees and honeybees. It is a small tree, reaching maturity at about 16 feet and it has a slow growth rate. It is shade tolerant and drought resistant. Many birds and mammals eat the seeds produced by this tree.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Another spring blooming beauty, the white flowers of this tree can be seen dotting the edges of local woods.
Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
Hummingbirds and butterflies love this small tree – feeding off of the large bright red flowers in early spring. It’s shade tolerant, stays relatively small, and produces amazing flowers. The large leaves provide great cover for many songbirds. It’s often found growing along the edge of streams and tolerates moist soil.
So find your favorite native tree and go out and plant one in your backyard this Arbor Day!