The best trees for alkaline soil

Written by alecia stuchlik
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The best trees for alkaline soil
Redbud trees can tolerate very alkaline soils. (redbud branch image by Carbonbrain from Fotolia.com)

Soil pH plays an important role in determining the health of your trees. With neutral soil having a pH of 7.0, soils become alkaline at anything higher. In alkaline soil, a tree’s ability to get the nutrients it needs becomes restricted and often results in the yellowing of tree leaves or even death. Some trees can handle alkaline soil better than others, so it helps to know which are the best trees for alkaline soil.

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American Linden

The American linden or Basswood tree (Tilia Americana) makes a desirable landscaping tree due to its large size and fragrant flowers. It can tolerate slightly alkaline soils, with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.

American lindens grow from 50 to 70 feet in height and 30 to 50 feet wide. A useful tree, the wood works well for lumber and the flowers can be made into honey, which some say is the best in world. Medicinally, it can treat stomach issues and hysteria, according to the North Dakota State University Agriculture and Extension.

Bur Oak

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) grows in a variety of soils and prefers a pH of 5.5 to 8.0. This long-lived tree is drought and shade tolerant, but slow growing if under stress. Also called Mossycup Oak, the Bur Oak bears acorns and greenish or reddish flowers.

Stretching from 40 to 70 feet in height, the Bur Oak has stout branches. The wood works for dimension lumber and for use as fence posts. It can also be planted as field windbreaks.

Green Ash

A member of the olive family, Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) has a high resistance to diseases and insects and can also tolerate alkaline soils well. According to the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry service, Green ash grows best with a soil alkalinity between 7.5 and 8.0.

Green ash trees flower mid- to late-spring with small flowers appearing on the outer part of the crown. They may also bear fruit. Depending on the area of growth, Green ash can get anywhere from 50 to 120 feet in height. Its hard wood has bending qualities and manufacturers use it to create tool handles and baseball bats. In the yard, many people grow it as a shade tree.

Redbud

The small, deciduous Eastern Redbud tree (Cercis Canadensis) grows mainly in the eastern part of the United States. According to the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry service, the Redbud is tolerant of a wide pH range but grows best where the pH is above 7.5, which makes this tree particularly well-suited to alkaline soils.

Early in the spring, even before many trees begin to leaf, the Redbud puts forth a multitude of beautiful pink to reddish-purple flowers. This spring flowering makes it a popular landscaping and ornamental tree.

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