Facts about trees native to northwestern Ontario climate

Just a few facts about some of the most common tree species in our area. Knowing a few more things about these trees helps you to understand how and why they grow the way they do, and why not all trees grow in the same areas.


Jack pine produce cones every year, red pine every three to five years and white pine generally every five to seven years.

Pines prefer sandy, well drained soils and sites with lots of sun.

The Scots pine (also called Scotch pine) is native to Europe but does grow well in the Canadian climate. A good thing since it is a favourite choice for a Christmas tree.


Five different species of spruce are native to Canada: red (Maritimes), white, black, Sitka (BC), Engleman (BC).

Norway (Europe) and blue spruce (USA) grow well in Canada and are used extensively as ornamental species.

Spruce are very adaptable to a variety of soils. White and black spruce grow well in swamps, clay soils and rich mineral soils and are tolerant of shady sites.

White spruce are more suitable for planting yards than black spruce because of their more uniform shape – the perfect “Christmas tree” silhouette.

Spruce species are highly in demand in Canada for lumber products. Most Canadian produced two-by-fours and softwood dimensional lumber are from spruce species, unless specifically labeled as pine or cedar.

White, blue or Norway spruce are an excellent choice if you need a wind break, or dense tree line or property marker, on your property.


From a horticultural perspective the cedar is the go-to tree from planting in years. Cedars species were some of the first hybridized species for horticultural use.

At the nursery you can purchase global, cylindrical, dwarf varieties of cedars for your landscape.

Deer love the flavor of cedars and feed on them regularly.

Cedars, even hybridized species, prefer sites with partial to full shade and moist conditions. Planting cedars in your yard if you have sandy soils isn’t the best idea unless you are going to commit to regular watering.

The aromatic cedar that lines closets and chests is not from the cedar that grows in Ontario (the eastern white cedar) but from species of junipers known as Rocky Mountain juniper (BC) or eastern red cedar (Ontario).


Among the tree maples, sugar, red, Manitoba, and silver maples grow in our area.

All maples have sap that runs in the early spring, with sugar maple sap being used for making maple syrup.

Maples should only be pruned in the early to late summer when the sap is distributed throughout the tree so minimal sap runs from the pruning wounds.

Maples make great long-living shade trees in any yard. They like rich soils and areas with moderate to full sun.

Along with the native species growing in the wild, many of these species have some wonderful hybrids suitable for ornamental planting. Check at your local nursery.