Horse pasture shade trees

Asked October 7, 2020, 2:53 PM EDT

I would like to plant a couple of shade trees in my horse pasture. My main concern is toxicity. Can you give me a list of trees which are safe to plant? Also the fastest growing and native if possible. I live in Southwest Eugene (Gimpl Hill Rd.) Thank you.

Lane County Oregon

3 Responses

Here is a great publication to check out:

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1438.pdf

Some ideas include:

Hackberry. Also referred to as a sugarberry, this relative of the elm tree makes for a hardy shade tree with its cylindrical, drooping branches. Native Americans used hackberry to treat sore throats. The leaves are a showy gold in the fall.

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Also known as yellow poplar or Tulip Tree, this North American native is nicknamed for its yellow, tulip-like blooms. Related to magnolias, its lobed leaves are green in summer and turn gold in the fall. Some specimens in the upper mountainous areas of the Appalachians reach to 190 feet tall. Flowers might not appear for the first few years.

Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica:SalixxblandaandSalixxpendulina). The Babylon weeping willow and the Wisconsin weeping willow are so similar in habit and form that they’re usually treated interchangeably. Their drooping branches, thin twigs, small, linear leaves, and classic sweeping foliage make them great pasture trees for stock to browse beneath. They’re one of the first trees to leap out in the spring and turn gold in the fall. Be aware that their invasive roots wreak havoc with pipes and foundations, however.

Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua). This medium- to fast-growing North American native has glossy, star-shaped green leaves in summer and sports brilliant colors in the fall, ranging from orange and purple to red to yellow. As with willows, its root systems are formidable, so things like pipes and structural foundations will likely lose any battles. The seed pods/fruits of the sweet gum can be messy, but remain clinging to bare branches well into the winter, looking a bit like tiny sputniks and attracting birds to feed on the seeds. If you wish to avoid the mess altogether, look for the Rotundiloba cultivar, which is fruitless.

Oregon Ash (Fraxinus pennsyvanica). One of the most adaptable trees , the Oregon ash has been planted extensively for windbreaks, riparian zones and pastures. Its fine-grained hard wood is strong and suitable for furniture, sports equipment and more. The subspecies, Arizona or velvet ash (Fraxinus velutina) grows well in the southwestern United States, though some areas of intense sun necessitate a stand of trees to protect them from sunscald. The Oregon ash’s 2- to 4-inch leaves are a showy gold in the fall, and it has large surface roots.

White Pine (Pinus strobus). One of the faster growing pines, this favorite has soft bluish-green needles, and are, of course, evergreen. Several white pines planted together can give shade and provide a windbreak along a fence line or in a pasture. White pines don’t tolerate air pollution well and are susceptible to the bark disease, white pine blister rust and the White Pine weevil.

Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). M. grandiflora, also known as the southern magnolia, big bay, big laurel or large-flower magnolia, has creamy lemon-citronella scented blooms and grows throughout the South. These lovely evergreen deciduous trees make wonderful stand-alone specimens. These trees sport blooms up to 12 inches across and have been known to grow to 120 feet. Their formidable root systems can be twice the width of their canopies, so don’t plant them too close together. Two of the fastest growing varieties are Margaret Davis and Smith Fogle.

One of the best types of shade trees include Norway Maples. There are several different cultivars some more widespread than others. The red maple and red maple hybrids can also be used. Schubert Chokecherry is another one you could consider. Red Oaks are also good shade trees for Central Oregon.

Hope this helps!

There are so many great ideas! Thank you, thank you. This is so helpful.
Kim Thomas

Glad to help! Thanks for contacting "Ask an Expert"!