10 Native Trees to Plant in Central North Carolina

Our Treecologists' favorite trees that thrive in planting zones 7b/8a.

Now that you have found the perfect location for your tree, here is a list of our Treecologists’ favorite native trees.

NOTE: The trees and shrubs recommended below are specifically for zones 7b and 8a in North Carolina.

Black Gum

These large shade trees are valuable because they produce fruit that is a food source for many types of birds including robins, cedar waxwings, woodpeckers, and bluebirds. In the fall, they have striking red foliage.

Live Oak

These awe-inspiring oaks can grow to a towering 80 feet tall with strong, spreading branches that can grow even wider. If you can give this tree more than enough room to grow above and below, it will be an impressive addition to any space. Even though these trees are technically deciduous, they often stay green throughout the winter. They lose their leaves when they get old rather than seasonally.

Green Hawthorn

Hawthorns are mid-sized ornamental understory trees with showy white flowers in the spring and red berries throughout the fall and winter. These trees are very valuable to wildlife: their spring blooms are favorites of pollinators, and their winter berries attract a wide variety of wildlife.

Pawpaw

This native understory tree produces unique fruits that taste like a cross between a mango and a passionfruit. Newly planted paw paw trees take 5-8 years to produce fruit. But they also offer other benefits as they mature including being hosts to Swallowtail butterfly larva.

Sassafras

The roots of this tree were once used to make root beer. The unique mitten shaped leaves have brilliant fall color.

Serviceberry

This small tree has white flowers in the spring and burgundy blueberry-like fruits in the summer. The fruits are edible but also a favorite snack for native wildlife.

Carolina Silverbell

A smaller ornamental tree that blooms in the spring. The blooms are short-lived but fragrant and showy.

Eastern Red Cedar

These evergreen trees work well as privacy rows and are drought tolerant. But the name is actually a misnomer. Despite being called cedar trees, they are junipers. They produce juniper berries in the late fall that are an essential food source for a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, rabbits, and foxes.

Tulip Tree

One of the tallest native trees in the Southeast, it needs a lot of space to grow both above and below ground. It has distinctive tulip shaped flowers, the nectar of which is used by bees to make poplar honey.

Carolina Cherry Laurel

This evergreen works well as a privacy screen and grows quickly. They are also resistant to deer.

Our Treecologists' chose these trees specifically because they are native to where they will grow. This means that they are often more resistant to disease, withstand drought, and contribute to the local ecosystem. It's still important to be sure that you are selecting a tree that will thrive in the location you plan to plant.

Carefully assessing the conditions of an area before you plant will give your trees a better chance at a long, healthy life. Also, considering your needs before you pick up a shovel will help you determine which trees will function best in a given area. These suggestions can get you started, but we’re always happy to make recommendations.

If you have any questions about choosing the right tree or if you are looking for a specific recommendation, send us a message.

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