Department of Transportation Scott Kubly, Director
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206-684-TREE (8733)
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Street Tree Planting Procedures

Trees Approved with Reservations

  • Albizia julibrissin. (silk tree, mimosa) Vulnerable to fatal canker attacks in Seattle.

  • Betula alba. (white birch, weeping white birch) Regular aphid infestations - probably will not kill the tree, but sticky "honeydew" drips and makes a mess. Do not plant where people park their cars. Note: Many trees get aphids, birch is always more heavily attacked.

  • Catalpa. Brittle wood. Roots are tough on sidewalks.

  • Crataegus oxyacantha a.k.a. C. laevigata. (Including Paul's Scarlet and several named varieties) Has aphid problem. Some cultivars are especially susceptible to the black spot fungus, which may defoliate the tree by July.

  • Gleditsia triacanthos. (honey locust) Thorny - select only named cultivars, such as "Shademaster", "Skyline" or "Imperial". Plant in wide planting strips.

  • Juglans nigra, J. regia. (black walnut, English walnut) Messy fruit. J. nigra roots are destructive.

  • Liquidambar styraciflua. (sweetgum) Roots are particularly destructive to sidewalks. They need an especially wide planting strip.

  • Platanus spp. (London plane, sycamore) Destructive to paving, roots heave sidewalks. May invade sewers; best with wide planting strips or cobble paving. They are susceptible to anthracnose diseases.

  • Quercus paulustris. (pin oak) Lower limbs keep growing downward, and require lots of pruning when used as street trees. 'Crownright' is a variety that should be used to avoid this problem.

  • Sophora japonica. (pagoda tree) In Seattle, it is highly susceptible to canker attack, which is often fatal.

  • Ulmus americana. U. pumila (American elm, Siberian elm). American elm is highly vulnerable to Dutch elm disease. This disease is expected to kill the elms in this area. Newer disease resistant varieties may be approved for street planting. Siberian elms have brittle wood, and are prone to storm damage.

  • Conifer trees are not generally recommended for street planting. The lower limbs can cause visibility/safety problems at driveways, alleys, intersections, signs, and signals. They may be approved for street planting if the site is deemed appropriate. The planting of Conifers is encouraged on appropriate private property sites.

Trees Prohibited for Street Planting in Seattle

  • Acer negundo, Acer saccarinum, Acer macrophyllum. (boxelder, silver maple, and big leaf maple) Break badly in storms.

  • Ailanthus altissima. (tree of heaven) Roots are invasive, brittle wood, suckers freely, (produces new trees off of the root system, which may create a maintenance problem in the yard).

  • Alnus rubra. (red alder) Brittle wood. Favorite of tent caterpillars.

  • Malus. Fruiting apples. Fruit on walks.

  • Prunus.  Fruiting cherries/plums.  Fruit on walks.

  • Pyrus. Fruiting pears. Fruit on walks.

  • Ficus carica. Fruiting Fig.  Fruit on walks – aggressive root system.

  • Populus spp. (Poplars) Tops are brittle and break up easily in storms.

  • Robinia pseudoacacia. (black locust) Thorny, brittle.

  • Salix spp. (willows, including weeping) Roots are particularly hard on sewers.

For more information, call the City Arborist's office at 206-684-TREE (8733).

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