The North American state of Georgia lies in the southeastern region of the United States of America. As a whole, the state is defined by an enormous diversity of natural landscapes, flora, and fauna. The northernmost regions of the state are home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the much larger Appalachian Mountain range. South from the foothills of the Blue Ridge extends the Piedmont Plateau all the way down to the Coastal plain, which defines the state’s southernmost regions.
- 1. Maple (acer)
- 2. Hickory (carya)
- 3. Southern Live Oak (quercus virginiana)
- 4. Pine (pinus)
- 5. Bald Cypress (taxodium distichum)
- 6. Sweetgum Tree (liquidambar styraciflua)
- 7. Sweet Birch Tree (betula lenta)
- 8. Smokebush Tree (cotinus coggygria)
- 9. Witch Hazel Tree (hamamelis virginiana)
- 10. Tupelo (nyssa sylvatica)
- 11. Chinese Pistache (pistacia chinensis)
- 12. Sweetbay Magnolia (magnolia virginiana)
- 13. White Dogwood (cornus florida)
- 14. Peach (prunus persica)
- 15. Apple (malus domestica)
- 16. Pear (pyrus)
- 17. Apricot (prunus armeniaca)
- 18. Downy Serviceberry (amelanchier arborea)
- 19. Devil’s Walkingstick (aralia spinosa)
- 20. American Hornbeam (carpinus caroliniana)
- 21. Pawpaw (asimina triloba)
- 22. Eastern Redbud (cercis canadensis)
- 23. Fringe Tree (chionanthus virginicus)
- 24. American Persimmon (diospyros virginiana)
- 25. Maidenhair Tree (ginkgo biloba)
- 26. American Beech (fagus grandifolia)
- 27. American Holly (ilex opaca)
- 28. Black Walnut (juglans nigra)
- 29. American Sycamore (platanus occidentalis)
- 30. Yellowwood (cladrastis kentukea)
The diverse landscape in the state of Georgia comprises the five principal physiographic regions: the Ridge and Valley Appalachians, the Cumberland Plateau, Piedmont, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Atlantic Coastal Plains. Although each individual region has its own characteristics, the diverse landscape of Georgia come together to create what is referred to as a humid subtropical climate.
In total, there are close to 250 species of trees in Georgia, including a large variety of Maples, Pines, Oaks, Hickories, Cypress, and Hollies. Coniferous species and broadleaf evergreen fauna make up the majority of the forested areas in Georgia’s southern and coastal regions.
This article will outline 30 of the most common trees in Georgia, explaining the defining characteristics and important features of each tree species along the way.
1. Maple (acer)
Maples are a genus of trees and shrubs that are commonly placed in the Sapindaceae family. There are around 132 different species of Maple, most of which are indigenous to Asia. Maples are easily distinguishable from other trees by their winged fruits and palmate leaves. Lastly, many types of Maple trees are an important source of wood and maple syrup.
Related: Maple trees in Georgia
2. Hickory (carya)
Hickories are a genus of trees known as Carya, of which there are around 18 known species. While some of these species are native to Indo-China, others are indigenous to United States, Mexico, and Canada. Importantly, these temperate forest trees are self-pollinated, while a number of species of Hickory trees are used for wood and edible nut production.
3. Southern Live Oak (quercus virginiana)
The Southern Live Oak is an evergreen oak tree that, while being endemic to the Southeastern United States, have large populations in the Deep South, including Virginia, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Georgia. The trees have dark, thick, and fissured barks and vary from shrub size to large and highly spreading tree sizes.
Related: Oak trees in Georgia
4. Pine (pinus)
A Pine tree is any conifer tree in the genus Pinus. There are currently 126 recognized species of pine trees with around 35 unresolved species. These evergreen, coniferous, resinous trees have a range of 3 meters (shrub size) to around 100 meters in height. Moreover, pines are long-lived trees with a range of 100 to 1000 years, depending on the particular species.
Related: Pine trees in Georgia
5. Bald Cypress (taxodium distichum)
Bald Cypress, also known as Swamp Cypress, is a deciduous conifer indigenous to the Southeastern United States. This extremely hardy tree is known to adapt to a wide range of soil types, be it salty, wet, swampy, or dry. Bald Cypress is a large, slow-growing, and long-lived tree, typically growing to heights of 10 to 40 meters and has a distinct grayish-reddish-brown bark.
6. Sweetgum Tree (liquidambar styraciflua)
Also known as the American Sweetgum tree, this deciduous tree is indigenous to the warm and temperate regions of eastern North America and the tropical regions of Central America. It is easily distinguishable by its 5-pointed star leaves and hard, spiky fruits. With a medium-to-large size, Sweetgum trees grow to heights of 15 to 20 meters in cultivation and up to 40 meters in the wild.
7. Sweet Birch Tree (betula lenta)
Also known as the mahogany or spice birch, the Sweet Birch tree is indigenous to North America and ranges from Southern Maine to Ontario as well as further south in Georgia. These medium-sized deciduous trees typically reach 30 to 35 meters in height. The Sweet Birch tree is also a long-lived tree typically living up to 250 years. Lastly, it is similar to the Yellow Birch and is also an important tree for lumber production.
8. Smokebush Tree (cotinus coggygria)
The Smokebush tree is a species of flowering plant that is indigenous to southern Europe, Central Asia across the Himalayas, and northern China. This multiple branching deciduous shrub grows to about 5 to 7 meters in height with a very open spread that only rarely forms a small tree. Although it can be found in many parts of the world, it is commonly used as an ornamental plant.
Related: Flowering trees in Georgia
9. Witch Hazel Tree (hamamelis virginiana)
The Witch Hazel tree is a species of flowering shrub indigenous to eastern North America. Its range lies from Florida to Texas and from Minnesota to Nova Scotia. This small deciduous tree or shrub typically grows up to 6 meters in height and exceptionally up to 10 meters. Native Americans often used the tree’s hazel extract for its anti-inflammatory properties.
10. Tupelo (nyssa sylvatica)
Commonly known as black tupelo or black gum, the tupelo is a medium-sized deciduous tree indigenous to eastern North America, ranging from Ontario to Florida as well as Texas and Mexico. Tupelos typically grow to 20 to 25 meters in height and exceptionally up to 35 meters. These trees and easily distinguishable by their typical straight trunks with branches extending outward at right angles.
11. Chinese Pistache (pistacia chinensis)
The Chinese Pistache is a small-to-medium-sized tree of the Cashew family and is indigenous to central and western China. Due to its attractive fall foliage, it is planted as an ornamental tree in many parts of the world. This hardy tree can grow up to 20 meters in height and can easily withstand the harsh conditions of poor soil quality.
12. Sweetbay Magnolia (magnolia virginiana)
The Sweetbay Magnolia is an evergreen, deciduous tree that typically grows to 20 meters in height. It is indigenous to the lowlands and swamps of the Atlantic Coastal plain of eastern North America and can be found in Florida and New York in large numbers. While the tree is evergreen in areas with milder winters, populations that exist further north are typically deciduous.
13. White Dogwood (cornus florida)
A species of flowering tree of the Cornaceae family, the White Dogwood is indigenous to North America and northern Mexico. This deciduous tree grows to heights of 10 meters and, when mature, can often be wider than it is tall. Moreover, the small and inconspicuous flowers of the White Dogwood grow in dense, rounded flower heads containing up to 20 flowers each
14. Peach (prunus persica)
The Peach is a deciduous tree indigenous to various regions of northwest China. It initially had general populations throughout Persia, from where it was transported to Europe and eventually to North America. These small deciduous trees grow to about 7 meters in height, while the fruit of the tree is highly aromatic and has whitish or yellow flesh.
15. Apple (malus domestica)
Apple trees are the most widely cultivated species of the genus malus, and although the tree originated from Central Asia, it has been grown in Europe for thousands of years and in North America for a few hundred. Apples are deciduous trees typically reaching heights of 4 meters in cultivation and 9 meters in the wild. The leaves are dark-green, oval-shaped, alternatively arranged, while the fruit matures in late summer or autumn.
16. Pear (pyrus)
Pears are medium-sized trees or shrubs that are harvested in the Northern Hemisphere from late summer to October. The tree is indigenous to the coastal and slightly temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. There are about 3000 species of pear cultivated worldwide, each bearing fruits of different sizes and shapes. Pear trees typically reach heights of 10 to 17 meters and have a tall narrow crown. Some species, however, remain shrubby.
17. Apricot (prunus armeniaca)
This species of apricot is the most commonly cultivated tree of all the apricot species. Due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation, the native range of this species is somewhat uncertain, although many botanists believe the tree to have originated from Central Asia. These small trees grow to 8 to 10 meters in height and typically have a dense and widely spread canopy.
18. Downy Serviceberry (amelanchier arborea)
Also known as the common serviceberry, the Downy Serviceberry is indigenous to North America, with large populations in Texas and Minnesota. Generally, the Serviceberry grows to 12 meters in height, and occasionally it reaches the over-story at 20 meters. The tree has a smooth and gray bark and slender buds with a pointed tip.
19. Devil’s Walkingstick (aralia spinosa)
The Devil’s Walkingstick is a woody species indigenous to eastern North America. The name refers to the tree’s sharp and spiny stems. This deciduous shrub grows to heights of 2 to 8 meters and has an open, umbrella-like crown, giving the tree a somewhat tropical appearance. The young stems are densely covered with sharp spines, while flowers are small and creamy-white.
20. American Hornbeam (carpinus caroliniana)
The American Hornbeam is a small hardwood tree indigenous to eastern North America, with populations existing in Minnesota, Ontario, Maine, Texas, Georgia, and Florida. The American Hornbeam typically reaches heights of 10 to 15 meters and often has a crooked and fluted trunk. The tree is typically found in naturally shaded areas and thrives in moist soils near rivers or streams.
21. Pawpaw (asimina triloba)
The American Pawpaw is a small deciduous tree indigenous to the eastern regions of the United States and Canada. This understory tree is found in deep, fertile, and well-drained bottomland habitats and produce the largest edible fruit native to the United States. Pawpaw trees are typically large shrubs or small trees, growing to heights of 11 to 13 meters.
22. Eastern Redbud (cercis canadensis)
The Eastern Redbud is a small deciduous tree, or large deciduous shrub, indigenous to eastern North America, with populations ranging from Michigan to Mexico, and New Jersey to California, and even as far north as Ontario. Growing to a height of about 6 to 9 meters with an 8 to 10-meter spread, the Eastern Redbud typically has a short and twisted trunk with vastly spread branches.
23. Fringe Tree (chionanthus virginicus)
The Fringe tree is a deciduous shrub or small tree indigenous to the lowlands and savannahs of the southeastern United States, from Florida to New Jersey even as far west as Oklahoma and Texas. These shrubs or trees grow to around 11 meters in height and have a brownish-red, scaly bark. The dried roots and bark were commonly used by Native Americans for their anti-inflammatory properties.
24. American Persimmon (diospyros virginiana)
The American Persimmon, or Common Persimmon, is a small-to-medium-sized species of Persimmon ranging from Connecticut to Florida and Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Iowa, Georgia, and Kansas. The tree grows up to 20 meters in height in well-drained soils, and although it grows wild throughout much of the United States, it has been cultivated for its fruits since pre-historic times.
25. Maidenhair Tree (ginkgo biloba)
Indigenous to China, the Maidenhair Tree is large with erratic branches and an angular crown and grows to heights of 20 to 35 meters. While juvenile maidenhairs are small and slender, mature trees have broad crowns with leaves that turn bright yellow in the Fall season. The Maidenhair can live for well over 1000 years in the right conditions, owing to its insect and disease resistant wood and ability to grow aerial roots.
26. American Beech (fagus grandifolia)
Also known as the North American Beech tree, the American beech is a medium to large deciduous tree indigenous to North America. The American Beech grows to heights of up to 35 meters and typically has smooth, silvery bark and dark-green toothed leaves.
The American Beech is a shade-tolerant tree, and populations can be found on well-drained slopes such as those found in the rich bottomlands of Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, and Ontario
27. American Holly (ilex opaca)
The American Holly is a species of Holly indigenous to the eastern and south-central United States. Its range exists from Massachusetts to Florida and from Missouri to eastern Texas. This medium-sized, broad-leaved, evergreen tree typically grows to 10 to 20 meters tall and exceptionally up to 30 meters. The bar is usually light gray and covered in small, rough, and wary lumps.
28. Black Walnut (juglans nigra)
The American Black Walnut is a deciduous tree of the walnut family indigenous to North America. Populations can be found thriving in the riparian zones of Ontario, South Dakota, Georgia, Florida, and Texas. The tree develops a fairly straight trunk that reaches heights of 30 to 40 meters. The fruit of the tree ripens in summer to autumn and falls along with the husk in October.
29. American Sycamore (platanus occidentalis)
The American Sycamore is indigenous to the eastern and central United States as well as northeastern Mexico and southern Ontario. This tree can easily be distinguished from other native trees by its mottled bark, which normally flakes off, leaving the surface a grayish-brown color. Lastly, the Sycamore thrives in the deep soils of riparian and wetland areas, where it can grow up to 40 meters in height.
30. Yellowwood (cladrastis kentukea)
The Yellowwood is a species of cladrastis indigenous to the southeastern United States. Populations exist from North Carolina to eastern Oklahoma and from Missouri and Indiana to Alabama. This small-to-medium-sized deciduous tree typically grows up to 10 to 15 meters in height and has a broad, rounded crown as well as a very smooth and gray bark.