So many of you told us about the trees you love to hate that we created a slideshow devoted to reader picks for worst tree. Do you agree with these?
Gingko (Gingko biloba)
Unchanged since prehistoric times, the gingko tree features unusual, fan-shaped leaves. It can grow 70 feet tall and endures various climates.
Reader lament: We have a female gingko tree in our front yard, and the smell of the fruit has been described either as “dog poo” or “vomit.” Amazingly, it smells like both at the same time. They are hard to rake up, and when you do, the smell gets on your shoes, clothes, and anything else around.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardChinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum)
AKA: popcorn tree (also, Tiradica sebifera, small Chinese tallow)
The Chinese tallow’s broad leaves provide good shade and turn bright colors in fall. Grows 40 ft. tall and 30 ft. wide. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture lists it as an invasive species.
Reader lament: Tiradica sebifera was sold as a landscape tree in the south for its attractive fall foliage. However, this invasive tree is now populating acres of wetlands devastated by Hurricane Katrina. It will outcompete native trees and flourish on fence lines.
Image: Vicky van Santen
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardSweet gum (Liquidambar)
The American sweet gum (L. styraciflua), native to the eastern U.S., grows 60 ft. tall and provides good shade. Surface roots crack sidewalks and the spiny fruit must be raked throughout the year.
Reader lament: Beware of sweet gums, a most beautiful tree with leaves that turn gorgeous scarlet in the fall. Its round seed pods are covered with sharp spikes which can injure pets (dog and cat paws) not to mention small children who may step on these.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardMimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
AKA: silk tree (sometimes confused with Acacia baileyana).
Native to Japan, the deciduous mimosa has lacy leaves and delicate, fluffy pink flowers that bloom in summer. Grows to 40 feet tall; prefers high summer heat; in the fall, it drops lots of flowers, leaves, and seed pods.
Reader lament: Mimosa has to be the most invasive tree. I have a lovely neighbor, but her mimosa tree seeds itself all over my lawns, flower beds, and gutters.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardHoney locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
(sometimes confused with regular locust, Robinia pseudoacacia)
A fast-growing (70 ft. tall) deciduous tree with a leaf structure that resembles ferns. Native to central, eastern U.S. A thornless variety, Gleditsia triacanthos inermis, is available.
Reader lament: My Mom and Dad put one in when we were little and it has grown to a 100-foot, thorn-covered monster in the last 40 years. It has a high chance of killing someone someday.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardCottonwood (Populus)
AKA: poplar, aspen
Fast-growing deciduous tree that prefers extremes of hot and cold; 40-60 feet tall. Females produce masses of cottony seeds; choose seedless males for easier maintenance. White poplar (P. alba) has been classified as invasive.
Reader lament: Cottonwood: the cotton, the sticky, sappy cotton pods, the endless sticks and twigs.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardLinden (Tilia)
A stately deciduous tree that grows to 60 feet tall. Native to eastern North America. Attracts aphids, which causes it to drip sap called honeydew.
Reader lament: It is a horror. For just about a full month in the summer, this linden tree becomes infected with aphids, which secrete sap from the tree. My car, which is parked in the driveway, is constantly covered with sticky dots of sap, sometimes making it impossible to see out of the windshield.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardRussian olive (Elaeagnus augustifolia)
Smallish (to 20 ft. tall) deciduous tree often planted as a screen or hedge. Listed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture as an invasive species for its tendency to crowd out native plants.
Reader lament: You really should never plant Russian olive under any circumstances. These fast-growing trees are extremely invasive. If you cut one down, it will come right back up unless you use a strong herbicide on it. They are wiping out the biodiversity of Michigan’s forests and fields.
More Trees You Should Never Plant in Your YardWeeping willow (Salix babylonic)
AKA: golden weeping willow (Salix alba tristis)
The shaggy weeping willow is known for its troublesome roots as well as its beauty. This deciduous tree grows 75-100 ft. tall and nearly as wide with long, trailing branches that reach the ground.
Reader lament: Weeping willows are nightmarish when they invade sewers and septic tanks. However, native willows, such as Salix nigra, the black willow, and S. sericea, silky willow, are also essential for stream bank restoration.