Colorful Fall Maple Leaves

NOVA Native Tree Week

NOVA Native Tree Week’s first anniversary runs from Sept. 26 until Oct. 2, 2022. Actually, I didn’t know much about this, until I attended a ZOOM meeting on “Native Trees” presented by Michael Fahey of the Merrifield Garden Center.

What is NOVA Native Tree Week?

So, NOVA Native Tree Week promotes native trees. Planting more native trees helps reverse the decline of native plants in the Northern Virginia area. The Virginia Department of Forestry apparently has a goal of planting 600,000 trees before 2025.

Fall is also the best time to plant many trees because the cooler weather promotes stronger root growth. The plant is, also, less likely to get sun stressed.

Apparently native shrubs are, also, being planted at this time because they represent an essential layer of the forest ecosystem canopy. Birds and other wildlife prefer native tree and shrub species.

Native trees and shrubs provide food, nesting sites, and homes for wildlife such as birds, squirrels, owls, rabbits, insects, butterflies, deer, bears etc.

There is a large variety of native trees in Virginia to chose from.

Colorful Fall Maple Leaves
Large Piles of Maple Leaves

Native Trees in Northern Virginia

The below list consists of trees native to the Northern Virginia area. If you live in another part of the county then, of course, your assortment of native trees is going to be different.

White Oak – Quercue – The white oak provides acorns and shelter for wild life. The White Oak is also the National Tree. White Oak trees are very tall and make up the upper layer of the forest canopy.

Sycamore – Platanus – The sycamore tree produces nuts for wildlife.

Sweetgum – Strariflua – Sweetgum flowers are beneficial to wildlife, bees, and butterflies. The seeds contain a lot of protein. The Sweetgum tree has impressive fall foliage colors.

Black Gum – Nyussaa – Small glossy leaves and very durable trees.

Great American Elm – Durable tree with an umbrella-shaped canopy.

Sugar Maple and Red Maple -Acer – Beautiful fall foliage with high protein and fatty seeds for wildlife.

River Birch – Betula – Thrives in wet, compact soil.

Pine Cone on Branch in the Woods

Understory Native Trees

The below list are mid-size trees under the tallest forest canopy.

Hornbeam – Carpinus – Smaller sized tree with lots of seeds.

Serviceberry – Blooms in the fall. This gives bees and animals a source of food when food is scarce.

Evergreens – Deciduous trees, useful for screening if homes are too close together.

Junipers – Juniperus – There are both male and female Juniper plants. Male Juniper plants produce a gold cone and female juniper plants produce berries. Juniper plants are very drought resistant. Juniper plantings were initially used by farmers to form wind breaks around barns and other structures.

Pines – Pinuis – Long needles. Pine cones produce sugar crystals on pine cones.

Decline of the Chestnut Oak in Northern Virginia

Interestingly, it was mentioned that the Chestnut Oak trees are dying in the Northern Virginia area.

It is thought that this due to our changing weather patterns of hot dry spells and violent rains. It is too much stress for the trees to endure.

However, an interesting hypothesis was brought up. Chestnut Oaks normally grow on rocky ridge tops and mountain slopes. They should not be growing in Northern Virginia in the first place.

However, what if during the Ice Age as it melted, the Chestnut Oaks grew near the melted glacier because it was cool. And the trees are still growing today but were never meant to be in the area they are currently in? That could also mean that the trees would die out when the climate got warmer.

Curiously, that sounds plausible to me.

Ending Notes on NOVA Native Tree Week

So, the main message for today’s blog is to Plant More Trees.

If planting a new tree is in your future, be sure to check out native trees appropriate for your space and area. The birds and other wildlife will love your yard and dedication to preserving the delicate ecosystem.

Research Sites:,,, and Merrifield Garden Program.

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