Midwestern residents have to deal with the grazing and trampling of their shrubs by Odocoileus virginianus or the white-tailed deer. There are many choices of ornamental trees that are deer-resistant, but this is a list of flowering, North American natives that will work in the Midwest. Remember, when the weather is sever enough, deer will eat anything.
Asimina triloba = pawpaw tree – This fruit bearing tree can reach a height of 20 feet. The leaves tend to offer a tropical feel in the yard and offers great, red fall color. Fruits are described as tasting like banana custard. I’m investing in one of these very soon!!
Amelanchier = Serviceberry – This tree is a favorite of the author. These single or multi-stemmed trees grow well in full sun and reach heights of 15 feet. This tree also is dubbed the “4-season tree” as it blooms white in the spring, has wonderful green color for summer, eye-popping red fall color and red berries that stay for most of the winter that are edible (jams) and birds enjoy.
Cercis canadensis = eastern redbud – A highly sought-after understory tree, meaning it needs shade and protection from the elements. This beauty blooms in early spring in shocking bright purple/pink on leafless branches. Sizes range, but can get to heights of 20 feet if in a well protected site.
Chionanthus virginicus = fringe tree – This small, ornamental tree does well in both sun and partial shade and only reaches about 12 feet high. It can be pruned into a single trunk if desired. It blooms white, fringe-like blooms in May, followed by blue berries in fall.
Cornus alternifolia = pagoda dogwood – This tree has an interesting, horizontal branching habit that makes it look like a pagoda. Beautiful white blooms adorn this tree in spring and blue berries that the birds enjoy follow. This tree does well in both sun and shade and only reaches about 15 feet.
Hammamelis vernalis = spring witchhazel – A very hardy tree for the shade area that can reach heights of 15 feet. It is also the first tree to bloom in this area, sometimes showing it’s yellow/red blooms in February!
Hammamelis virginiana = common witchhazel – Another hardy variety of witchhazel that is the last to bloom in the area, showing it’s blooms in late October. This tree prefers shade and can reach heights on 15 feet.