12 Evergreen Trees in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee is home to many different kinds of trees. There are over 500 species, but some are more common than others. Some of the most popular evergreen trees in Tennessee include cedar elms, eastern redbud, and mountain laurel. 

The climate of Tennessee is not ideal for growing evergreen trees. Tennessee has a humid subtropical climate with warm to hot summers and relatively cold winters. Tennessee is an ideal tree-growing state, however, because it has many deciduous trees that lose their leaves during the fall months. This allows Tennessee’s evergreen trees some relief from the scorching summer sun.

Read on to find out which varieties of evergreen trees you are most likely to encounter in the state of Tennessee.

1. Northern White Cedar (thuja occidentalis) 

Thuja occidentalis
Dan Keck Thuja occidentalis

The northern white cedar is a small tree that typically grows to heights of 15-25 feet. It is found in moist, shady areas near streams and rivers in Tennessee. This tree has distinctive fan-shaped leaves and small cones. Northern white cedars are often used as landscape trees because they are resistant to pests and disease.

2. Fraser Fir (abies fraseri)

Fraser Fir
Notneb82 Fraser Fir

The Fraser fir is a popular evergreen tree for Christmas trees. It is native to the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Fraser firs typically grow to heights of 50-60 feet and have dark green needles that are 2-3 inches long. The cones on this tree are also very small, about 1/2 inch in diameter.

3. Eastern White Pine (pinus strobus)

Pinus strobus Eastern White Pine
Frank Richards Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine)

The eastern white pine can grow to heights of over 100 feet. This evergreen tree has long, thin needles that radiate around its branches in all directions. The needles are usually 5-8 inches long and grow out of a central stem on the twig. These trees have orange-red seeds inside of their cones.

4. Norway Spruce (picea abies)

Picea abies
Frank Richards Picea abies

The Norway spruce is a tall evergreen tree with short, dark green needles. It has stout branches and its bark is rough and scaly. This tree can grow to heights of over 100 feet and its cones are 1-2 inches long.

5. Japanese Cryptomeria (cryptomeria japonica)

Cryptomeria japonica
Tim Sheerman-Chase Cryptomeria japonica

Cryptomeria japonica is a coniferous evergreen tree native to Tennessee. This tree has soft, feather-like needles with a pleasant scent. It is often used as an ornamental plant because of the pleasant smell of its needles and its compact size (which makes it easier to fit into smaller yards).

6. Leyland Cypress (cupressus × leylandii)

cupressus × leylandii
W. Baumgartner cupressus × leylandii

The Leyland cypress is a popular evergreen tree for landscaping. It is a cross between two different types of cypress trees: the Monterey cypress and the Nootka cypress. This tree has dark green needles and grows very quickly (up to 3 feet per year). It can reach heights of 80-100 feet.

7. American Holly (ilex opaca)

The American holly is Tennessee’s only native holly tree. It has dark green leaves and red berries. This evergreen tree can be identified by its spiky, bright red berries that stay on the branches throughout the winter months. American holly’s are popular Christmas trees because they have showy, scaly bark and their bright red berries are easy to spot when they fall.

8. Rocky Mountain Juniper (juniperus scopulorum)

Rocky Mountain Juniper juniperus scopulorum
J Brew Rocky Mountain Juniper (juniperus scopulorum)

The Rocky Mountain juniper is Tennessee’s largest species of juniper. It can grow up to 60 feet high and has small, needle-like leaves that are light green in color. This tree grows on rocky slopes or on cliffsides along Tennessee’s mountain ranges.

9. Southern Magnolia (magnolia grandiflora)

Southern Magnolia
B A Bowen Photography Southern Magnolia

The southern magnolia is a large, evergreen tree that is native to Tennessee. It has dark green leaves and white flowers that are fragrant. The flowers on this tree bloom in the springtime and can be up to 12 inches wide. Southern magnolias are often used as landscape trees because of their large size and beautiful flowers.

10. Cherry Laurel (prunus laurocerasus)

Cherry laurel
Guilhem Vellut Cherry laurel

The cherry laurel is an evergreen shrub that is often used for hedging. It has glossy, dark green leaves and white flowers that bloom in the springtime. This shrub can grow to heights of 10-15 feet.

11. Eastern Arborvitae (thuja occidentalis)

Thuja occidentalis eastern arbor vitae tree
James St. John Thuja occidentalis (eastern arbor vitae tree)

The eastern arborvitae has short, flat sprays of green leaves that are regularly used as a Christmas tree. This evergreen shrub can grow to heights of 40-60 feet and it’s branches droop down from its weight.

12. Eastern Hemlock (tsuga canadensis)

Tsuga canadensis
Plant Image Library Tsuga canadensis

The eastern hemlock is a tall, evergreen tree that is native to Tennessee. It has long, needles that are green on the top and white on the bottom. This tree is typically used for Christmas trees because its needles stay green throughout the winter months. The cones on this tree are small and brown in color.