Best Trees to Plant for a Healthier Earth
There is no better known way to improve air quality and help the earth than planting a tree. Or better yet, multiple trees! Trees are the most effective tool mankind has for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere before they can contribute to raising global temperatures.
How Trees Can Improve the Environment
Trees help to improve air quality by storing carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses, which keep them from entering our atmosphere. This is called carbon sequestration. All plants store carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but trees are especially effective because of their size. Scientists have been studying trees and have discovered that some trees are much better at storing carbon dioxide than any other known environmental factor.
An acre of trees absorbs as much carbon dioxide as two cars being driven twenty-six thousand miles a year. (A note before we talk about these trees: willow trees store very little carbon dioxide and give off some harmful organic compounds. While these are good trees for wildlife, they should be avoided if you are planting to reduce climate change.) Most trees absorb a great deal of carbon dioxide, but here are the best trees to plant for climate change. Other trees to consider are trees local to your area since they are most likely to thrive and support your local ecosystem.
Autumn Blaze Maple Shade Tree
The Autumn Blaze Maple is a hybrid of two popular trees – the Red Maple and Silver Maple! It has a dense leave canopy which aids in carbon dioxide absorption, making it not only beautiful, but it improves the air quality of your yard, and by extension your home. The Autumn Blaze Maple has a very fast growth rate (3-5’ per year!) making it an easy choice to improve your yard, without the long waiting for at tree to grow. It can adjust to a variety of climates and soil conditions and grows and thrives from planting zone 3 to planting zone 8.
One of the best trees for improving air quality is the tulip poplar. It’s also known as yellow poplar and tulip tree. A New York City study shows that the tulip poplar is one of the best trees for scrubbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. This is a fast-growing tree and is easy to grow and maintain. Its bark is aromatic and boasts red buds in the winter that bloom into orange and green flowers shaped like tulips.
American Sweet Gum
The American sweet gum tree makes the list as a top carbon dioxide absorber. It’s a large, beautiful tree whose leaves turn red, yellow, orange, and purple during the fall months. This is a hardwood tree that grows a long, deep taproot, so it needs some room. It’s an easy to care for, low maintenance tree that will grow to 75’ and boasts a width of 50’. It also tolerates dry soil and will grow rapidly, at a rate of 1-2’+ a year.
Pines in general are excellent at carbon sequestering. The loblolly pine is a fast-growing tree that provides shade and privacy because of its height. At maturity, the loblolly pine is 90’ tall and 35’ wide. It is a fast-growing shade tree and will sprout up more than 2’ a year. This tree can grow in wetter, swampy, and humid environments that many pines can’t tolerate. This is a beautiful, low-maintenance tree.
Eastern White Pine
While pines in general are some of the best trees for climate change, the white pines are the best out of the pine family. The eastern white pine is a rock star at carbon sequestering and is one of the most attractive pine trees. This long-lived tree grows rapidly and yet will live for generations. This tree supports wildlife through its bark and pinecones that many animals use for food.
Local to the Rocky Mountains, this gorgeous, ornamental tree is a top carbon dioxide absorber. Like pine trees, this is a coniferous tree, which means that it produces cones. Its leaves or needles are a beautiful blue color. While it’s taller in the wild, nursery-grown blue spruce reach a height of 60’, though there are smaller versions that will grow 5-15’, making them good for smaller or fuller gardens.
An extremely effective tree for removing pollution in cities, this is one of the best trees to plant for climate change. It is a very large tree and grows to 66’- 130’. This is a fast-growing tree and grows between 1-2’ a year. Birds and squirrels love this tree’s seeds.
The Center for Urban Forests lists the silver maple tree as being capable of absorbing around 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over 55 years. This is a very fast-growing, deciduous tree. It has a far-reaching root system and needs to be planted at least 10’ away from buildings, walls, sidewalks, roads, etc.
So what are you waiting for? Shop for a tree online and make the world a better place.