Michigan Tree Guide

According to Michigan Forest Forever Teachers’ Guide, there are over 14 billion trees — and over 100 tree species — in Michigan. Michigan is also home to over 20 million acres of forest land and is among the top ten largest forested areas in the United States. With so many Michigan trees, it is important to keep your trees (and your shrubs) cared for. Contact our team to learn how to best care for your Michigan trees and keep them healthy and happy!

Michigan State Extension reports that the ten most common species of Michigan trees are sugar maple, red maple, white cedar, red pine, white pine, northern red oak, quaking aspen, big-tooth aspen, black cherry and hemlock. Read on to find some information on the most common trees found in The Great Lakes State.

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum): The red maple provides some of the most brilliant red, orange and yellow fall colors that Michigan is known for. This medium-sized tree grows in a broad range of conditions and is one of the most common deciduous trees in North America. It grows 60 to 90 feet tall, and its leaves are arranged oppositely on the twig. The red maple is a favorite food of the white-tailed deer, so you can expect these regular visitors when you have a red maple planted on your property.

Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea): The balsam fir is a small to medium evergreen tree and is typically 46 to 66 feet tall. The cone-shaped crown consists of dark-green leaves (needles) and the bark on young trees is grey. The needles are flat and are arranged spirally on the shoot. The balsam fir is a favorite to use as a Christmas tree during the holiday season.

Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum): This large canopy tree can be found in somewhat poorly drained soils. It typically reaches heights of 80 to 115 feet tall; a healthy sugar maple can live for over 400 years. The dark-green leaves of the sugar maple tree turn brilliant orange, yellow and sometimes red in the fall. The symmetrical shape makes this tree a favorite ornamental tree; it is also a primary source for maple syrup.

Red Pine (Pinus Resinosa): This coniferous evergreen ranges from 66 to 115 feet tall and boasts a 1-meter trunk diameter. The term “red” pine comes from the red color often observed in its bark fissures, as well as the bright orange-red bark characteristic in the upper crown. This long-lived evergreen does well in windy areas and can reach a maximum age of 500 years.

Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus): The eastern white pine’s needles are characterized in “bundles” of five. They are flexible, finely serrated and are a bluish-green color. The eastern white pine is known for being the tallest tree in the eastern part of North America: It has been known to grow to heights of over 200 feet tall. The tallest specimens today are in Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, Michigan. Eastern white pines in this park are between 148 and 157 feet tall. Eastern white pine needles are an excellent source of vitamin C and are often used to make an herbal tea.

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra): This deciduous tree is a native tree of North America and can range in height from 92 to 141 feet tall with a trunk that is 20 to 39 inches in diameter. This fast-growing tree can live up to 500 years and is easily recognized by its bark, which has ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the center. The leaves have a seven to nine-lobed characteristic, are 5 to 10 inches long and are 4 to 6 inches broad.

Quaking Aspen (Populus Rremuloides): These trees feature tall trunks that have smooth, pale bark that is scarred with black. The glossy green leaves become golden yellow in autumn. The quaking aspen is fast-growing tree that can reach 65 to 80 feet at maturity. The leaves on these trees are nearly round and measure 4 to 8 centimeters in diameter and have small, rounded teeth. Pioneers in North America used the quaking aspen to create log cabins and dugouts; today, it is used for pulp products such as books, printing paper and newsprint.

Big-Tooth Aspen (Populus Grandiddentata): Also referred to as the “large-tooth aspen,” “American aspen” or “white poplar,” the big-tooth aspen is a medium-sized deciduous tree with a straight trunk. These trees are fast growing but are relatively short-lived — they can live between 60 and 100 years. The roots of the big-tooth aspen are shallow and are wide spreading. The bark of younger trees is olive-green, smooth and thin: After several decades, the older trees’ bark turns gray, thick and rough.

Black Cherry (Prunus Serotina): The black cherry is a medium-sized, fast-growing forest tree. It can grow to a height of 50 to 80 feet, and its leaves are 2 to 5 inches long, ovate in shape and has fine-toothed margins. It produces small, white and five-petaled flowers which turn into edible, reddish-black berries. The fruit of the black cherry is suitable for making jam, cherry pies and has been used to flavor liquors, sodas and ice cream. Its timber is a premier cabinetry timber in the U.S., and is popular for its color, quality and high price.

Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis): Also known as the “eastern hemlock,” this long-lived tree grows well in shade and reaches approximately 100 feet high but has been known to reach over 170 feet. The eastern hemlock can live to over 500 years old and have a trunk diameter of between 5 and 6 feet around. The bark is scaly and fissured, and the leaves are flattened, double-ranked and are typically flattened. The lumber is used for general construction and has been especially valuable at holding spikes in railroad ties.