How to identify a white flowering tree

Written by laura hageman
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How to identify a white flowering tree
Sweetbay magnolia trees have white flowers. (Magnolia tree image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

Many white flowering trees bloom before leaves occur on the branches, making the tree look pure white. It appears vibrant along roadsides and landscapes, especially when they stand next to other trees that have pink or red flowers. White flowering trees are common and are included in a long list of trees such as white dogwood, Adirondack crabapple and sweetbay magnolia.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Examine the leaves of the tree. White flowering trees such as sweetbay magnolia has oval or oblong shaped leaves. The leaves are dark green, leathery, shiny and smooth with small white fuzzy hairs on the bottom. Leaves on American mountain ash trees grow up to 10 inches long and are dark green, turning red by fall. Black locust tree leaves grow up to 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They are dark green on the top and light green on the bottom.

  2. 2

    Analyse the bark on the tree. White flowering trees such as American holly and American mountain ash have light grey bark with a smooth texture. Sweetbay magnolia and Adirondack crabapple have greyish brown bark--also with a smooth texture. Amur choke cherry trees have golden brown to a dark red bark. Black cherry trees have thickly ridged dark grey to black bark.

  3. 3

    Look at the fruit on the tree. American holly trees have red berry fruits that are about 1/3 inch in diameter. White dogwood trees have fruit that are bright red or yellow when ripe and grow up to 1 inch in diameter. Amur choke cherry has black coloured fruit, while serviceberry trees have round blue coloured fruit.

  4. 4

    Examine the flowers on the tree. White dogwood trees have four-petaled white flowers that are star shaped. Most of the flowers of white flowering trees bloom around April or early May. The winter buds are usually dark red. Adirondack crabapple and wild plum have white flowers with a tint of red on the tips or centre. Catalpa, black cherry, and black locust trees have small creamy white flowers

Tips and warnings

  • Many white flowering trees give off a fragrance, including white dogwood, black locust, and wild plum.

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