We are starting this series for all those times you are out walking in a park, on a greenway, or driving down the road, and you happen to wonder, “What’s that tree?” or “What flower is that?” It may be a spring tree in full bloom, a field of wildflowers, or a radiant yellow-leafed sugar maple in the fall. Identifying these plants is a way for us to connect with nature and enjoy the ever-changing Middle Tennessee landscape!
We will highlight five at a time and update this list as the year progresses.
5 Trees and Plants blooming in July in Middle Tennessee
Mimosa, Silk Tree, or Persian Silk Tree
Right now, you may notice these blooming trees that seem to pop up most prevalently along roadsides, pathways, and rivers. It’s part of the mimosa family, commonly called a Silk Tree or Persian Silk Tree, and it’s an invasive species. It blooms from May through July with fragrant blossoms, and its leaves are similar to a fern plant. Because of its beauty, it was imported to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1745 (source). These trees typically do not have a long life span as they are susceptible to disease, fungi, and insects. Each tree grows hundreds of bean-like pods (this tree is actually a legume!), and the seeds sprout in all types of soil, often at the expense of a native tree. You can now find these trees from California to New York.
An ornamental tree, this beauty grows well in the heat, which is why it’s often used in Southern landscaping. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Unlike many flowering trees, Crepe Myrtles bloom all summer long, adding beautiful color to the landscape long past when redbuds, dogwoods, magnolias, and fruit trees have finished blooming. These are also not native plants, and many consider them invasive, but they do not tend to be as aggressive as the Silk Tree or Tree of heaven (found below). Homeowners and governments actively plant Crepe Myrtles throughout the South and the Midwest. You’ll find them along highways, next to commercial buildings, and in medians and residential gardens.
Seen along streambeds throughout the Eastern United States, the American Elder has a beautiful lace-like flowering cluster that may remind you of a Lacecap Hydrangea. These bushes grow in all types of light and soil and can achieve a height and width of 10 feet. Native to North America, this plant is prevalent in the late summer and fall, and produces an abundance of dark purple berries and elderberries, which can be made into jam and provide food for the birds.
Tree of Heaven or Tree of Hell
At once the “Tree of Heaven” and the “Tree of Hell,” this tree is another import from China that thrives in poor conditions, thus forcing out native trees. This is similar to the Persian Silk Tree in its aggressive growth and rapid reproduction. They also grow to be between 80 and 100 feet tall. And similar to the Persian Silk Tree, this tree is pretty, which is why it was first brought over, and where it gets its original name. But, Tree of Hell seems to be what everyone in the garden world refers to it as, with good reason!
Spreading Hedge Parsley
You’ll find this wildflower on full display in many fields, and it is typically considered a weed. It’s originally from Europe, spreads quickly, grows up to three feet tall, and blooms from June through September. Take a walk in Tennessee parks, and you’ll likely see an abundance of these white flowers blowing in the breeze.
We’ll see you in a month for another roundup of plants and trees to note on your Middle Tennessee walks!
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