In 2022, scientists estimate that there are over 228 billion trees in the United States. This ranking earns us fourth on the list of trees per country. Russia, Canada, and Brazil are above us. In fact, Russia has approximately 642 billion trees.
The United States is a unique country because of the tree population. While we do have many native trees, we also have a significant population of transplanted trees. In the first half of the 1900s, United States citizens were notorious for bringing non-native trees to plant in our towns.
Some transplanted trees caused chaos in the natural ecosystem to the point they are considered invasive species. Other trees carried diseases unknown to these lands that have decimated entire populations. Finally, other trees have flourished in the American climate and are welcome additions to the landscape.
Despite the large population of transplanted species, the native specimens dominate the population in the United States. The top 5 most populous trees in the United States are also native to the United States.
The trees on this list are widely distributed throughout North America primarily in the United States. All in all, Canada shares many of the same tree populations because of the shared land mass. Many forests extend across the northern border of the United States because trees do not care about political claims.
Our list contains deciduous and evergreen species. Overall, the climate differences across the United States are massive. The Northeast experiences cold and harsh winters with cooler summers. The Southeast develops humid and hot summers with mild winters. On the west coast, you experience significant humidity and mild weather altogether.
Top 5 Trees in the United States
1. Red Maple
The most common tree growing in the United States is the red maple. The enormous population is limited to the eastern United States. Overall, the climate and soil along the East Coast are the perfect conditions for the red maple.
Altogether, the red maple grows down the entire East Coast of the United States and into Canada. The forest of red maples stretches to the Mississippi River. The population ends in portions of Minnesota and Texas.
Red maples grow to 60 feet in height with a 40-foot spread in maturity. In spring, the leaves of the red maple are dark green and range in size from two to six inches. In autumn, the leaves turn a dark red. Moreover, the flowers produced by the red maple are also red.
Many animals depend on the red maple for sustenance. All in all, the red maple produces a massive number of seeds which allows for new shoots to spread easily.
Some of the variants of red maple are incredibly allergenic causing significant issues for humans on the East Coast. Moreover, the leaves are very toxic to horses. It is unknown what is so poisonous about them, but the dangers are severe if ingested.
To learn more about toxic trees for animals, Read More.
Overall, we use red maple trees for their ornamental beauty as well as maple syrup and wood. Native Americans used the bark for many remedies including hives and cataracts.
Sweetgum trees are a pioneer species that roots in uninhabited areas. The growth rate is incredibly aggressive to spread into these unhabituated lands. With this aggression comes a tree that can grow in just about any condition of soil.
The forest of the sweetgum tree is much smaller than the red maple. However, this makes the population incredibly dense. Altogether, the sweetgum trees grow in the southeast United States. Small portions of the population stretch into New Jersey. The western border of the population reaches into Texas.
Sweetgum trees grow to 75 feet tall with 50-foot spread. The leaves are medium green and grow to 6 inches in length. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow, orange, red, and purple.
The sweetgum tree is home to countless birds and small animals. The fruits and seeds of the trees create lovely treats for the birds and squirrels.
The Southeastern United States utilizes the large sweetgum population for its lumber. The wood is a beautiful reddish brown. The sweetgum is one of the most common materials in plywood. It is also used for railroad ties, trim, flooring, and barrels. Overall, the wood stains well and easy to work into different shapes. However, the wood warps as it dries.
3. Douglas Fir
The Douglas fir is the first evergreen on our list. It is also the first tree located on the West Coast of the United States. Altogether, the trees in the Pacific Northwest grow to enormous heights compared to the rest of the country. The Douglas fir is no different. Moreover, it adapts to almost any altitude.
There are two varieties of Douglas firs, the gigantic coastal Douglas firs, and the smaller Rocky Mountain Douglas firs. The coastal Douglas firs grow to 300 feet in height while the Rocky Mountain variety is limited to 80 feet.
The coastal variety grows from Central California up to Canada. On the other hand, the Rocky Mountain variety is tightly located in the Rocky Mountains in one forest.
The light green needles of the Douglas fir are soft to the touch. With deeply furrowed bark, you should have no problem to identify these firs in the wild. The bark is often gray but can be light brown.
Tree farmers love the Douglas fir for many reasons. It has a quick growth rate and is easy to work with because of the soft needles.
Overall, the Douglas firs support much of the environment. Birds, small mammals, and large mammals depend on the Douglas fir for shelter and sustenance.
4. Quaking Aspen
The Quaking Aspen is not as populous as the other three trees on this list. However, it is the most widely distributed across the entirety of North America. You can find quaking aspens growing on both the East Coast and the West Coast. The range of the quaking aspen is limited to the northern portion of the country. Generally speaking, the population is largely contained inside of Canada with small patches stretching into the Northern United States.
The quaking aspen grows to a smaller height of 50 feet with a small 30-foot spread. On the other hand, they grow quite fast.
Altogether, the quaking aspen is not as flexible as the other trees on this list. They need specific growing conditions to thrive. The bark is a striking smooth white and the leaves are light green.
The quaking aspen is utilized by many animals for the edible leaves especially in winter. Beavers love the wood of the quaking aspen to build their dams.
5. Sugar Maple
The sugar maple shares many characteristics with the red maple. Furthermore, the range is much smaller. The sugar maple grows on the eastern half of the United States but does not range below Tennessee other than in small pockets. Small portions of Canada are also home to the sugar maple.
Sugar maples grow to 75 feet in height with 50-foot spreads. The canopy of leaves grows incredibly dense with 4-inch dark green leaves. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow, orange, and red.
Many animals depend on and love the sugar maple. The seeds, bugs, twigs, and leaves are all delicious snacks for small woodland animals.
However, the greatest use for sugar maples is for maple syrup. The Northeast states and Canada consider the sugar maple to be the best source for sap to produce maple syrup. Cutting down the trees will remove the usefulness for syrup, but the timber is lovely to work with. It is the lumber of choice for bowling alleys and basketball courts across the country.