Climate change has had an impact on many aspects of our daily lives.

Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature, posing some risks to human health as well as other living things, including your trees.

From more hot days and heat waves to more severe and frequent storms to longer and more frequent drought to increased extreme weather events and rising invasive pests and disease infestations, your trees are certainly going through some alterations to their usual way of life.

The Davey Institute is keeping an eye on climate change for this very reason. In fact, they’ve done some research in some areas of the country to assess these shifting climate zones and determine what is the best tree to plant for climate change.

Planting Trees For Climate Change

For the following major metropolitan locations, these suggested trees were chosen by The Davey Institute for their adaptability to shifts in growing zones, as well as taking into account their temperature and moisture requirements.

All information was compiled by Daniel A. Herms, PhD, vice president of research and development at The Davey Institute, and is based on the worst case scenario for climate change predictions in each metropolitan area:

Chicago, IL

Winter is the fastest warming season in the majority of the U.S., including Chicago, IL, according to Climate Central. Since 1970, Chicago’s winters have warmed 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit. By mid-century, Chicago is projected to have an average of 22 fewer days per year with a minimum temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Add to that more deadly heat waves exacerbated by the urban heat island effect, which is the ability of dense concrete surfaces to absorb and retain heat, leading to rising energy costs, air pollution and heat-related illness.

Try these trees, which have the qualities capable of withstanding Chicago’s climate change impacts:

  • Chicagoland Hackberry
  • Bald Cypress
  • American Yellowwood
  • Swamp White Oak
  • Accolade Elm

Denver, CO

Current climate models show that Denver, CO will warm by 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2025 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050.

These warming temperatures will impact evaporation rates in rivers, streams and reservoirs, possibly making less water available for use.

Residents can expect an average of 33 days of extreme heat by 2050.

Planting these tough trees can give you some shade as climate change progresses:

  • Hedge Maple
  • Magnifica Hackberry
  • Stately Manor Kentucky Coffeetree
  • Bullet Proof Bur Oak
  • Accolade Elm

San Francisco, CA

By 2050, temperatures in San Francisco, CA are expected to have risen more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit. But the Bay Area is only expected to have an average of three days of extreme heat per year by 2050.

Threats to the city from climate change include increased air pollution from ozone formation and wildfires, longer and more frequent droughts, and flooding as a result of sea level rise and high-intensity rain events. 

Consider these trees for giving your property some long-lasting and climate change-adaptable greenery:

  • Marina Strawberry Tree
  • Sweet Bay
  • Paper Bark Tea Tree
  • Swan Hill Olive
  • California Live Oak

Minneapolis, MN

Minnesotans are feeling the impacts of climate change; they can expect temperatures that are roughly 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2050.

Yet, only an average of 6 days per year are expected to be dangerously hot.

Overall, the area will experience higher temperatures, as well as more extreme storms with intense flooding. 

These trees will be able to handle the planting zone changes: 

  • Shagbark Hickory
  • Common Hackberry
  • American Hornbeam
  • Black Oak
  • American Linden

Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington)

The Pacific Northwest should be prepared for warmer winters with less snow at higher elevations. In addition to that, they’ll experience earlier springs and hotter, drier summers.

Temperatures are expected to rise 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 in the area as a result of climate change. While Oregon and Washington state rarely experience really hot days today, by 2050 they may each see an average of 10.

Increasing wildfires and rising sea levels will also continue in the Pacific Northwest.

These trees can bring some welcome greenery to your home landscape despite hardiness zones shifting with climate change: 

  • Alleghany Serviceberry
  • Strawberry Tree
  • Sourwood
  • Oregon White Oak
  • Bald Cypress

Boston, MA

The Boston, MA area is looking at more intense storms, more extremely hot days, and rising sea levels due to climate change. As climate change accelerates, the pace of sea-level rise is expected to triple, adding 8 inches by 2030.

In fact, by 2050, nuisance flooding may occur in Boston Harbor on roughly half the days each year.

Boston could hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit nearly an average of three months a year by 2100.

But these trees can stand up to the task: 

  • Alleghany Serviceberry
  • River Birch
  • American Hornbeam
  • Ironwood
  • Red Oak

Philadelphia, PA

Climate forecasters predict Philadelphia, PA will have to endurean average of 52 days of temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. By 2050, temperatures in the area will warm another 5.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition, more rain, snow, and storms are expected to cause increased flooding and water damage. The average annual rainfall in the area will increase by 8 percent, particularly in winter and spring, due to climate change.

You need a special tree that can handle these changing conditions. Try these:

  • American Yellowwood
  • Roundleaf Sweetgum
  • Black Gum
  • Willow Oak
  • Bald Cypress

New York, NY

In the Big Apple, average temperatures are expected to increase by up to 5.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. 

Heavy rainstorms are more frequent and will continue, while the sea levels are rising about 1 inch every decade in New York, NY. 

These trees can grow in these tougher conditions: 

  • Red Buckeye
  • Ginkgo
  • White Oak
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Lacebark Elm

Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia has experienced some record-breaking extreme weather already in the forms of heat waves and snowstorms.

Climate change will impact the different neighborhoods of the district differently. Low-lying areas near the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers will experience sea level rise and flooding, while neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of greenery will feel the rising heat waves.

The area is likely to experience record flooding by 2040.

Opt for these trees in Washington, D.C., that can handle the climate zones shifting:

  • Eastern Redbud
  • American Holly
  • Crapemyrtle
  • Southern Magnolia
  • Water Oak

Contact Your Local Arborist For More Recommendations Based On Your Location.

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