Trees with white flowers add beauty to any landscape, offering simplicity, purity, and bright contrast with other colors. Luckily, many different kinds of trees produce stunning white blossoms, so you have several options if you’re looking to add them to your backyard.
Some of the best choices for trees with white flowers for your yard are magnolia trees, dogwood trees, crepe myrtles, and American yellowwood trees. Other trees that produce white flowers include serivceberry trees, some hawthorn trees, rose of sharons, and Japanese snowbell trees.
In this article, I’ll talk about the characteristics and unique features of the trees mentioned above.
The Serviceberry tree (Amelanchier arborea) is available in both tree and shrub form. It produces small, delicate white flowers in March and April. It’s native to Washington, Oregon, northern California, and southern British Columbia.
During the fall, its leaves turn vibrant shades of red and gold, providing year-round beauty. This makes it popular for home landscaping.
Clusters of round fruit appear in June, turning dark red and purple. They’re similar in size to blueberries and are edible. They can be eaten or turned into jams and even pies.
An American classic, both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson planted the White Dogwood in their plantations at Mt. Vernon and Monticello. It’s native to eastern North America and Northern Mexico and is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia.
The White Dogwood (Cornus florida) provides year-round beauty, producing white flowers in April and May. It also features dark green leaves, which turn a vivid red-purple in the fall.
It produces red crimson berries in the fall, which attract a wide array of beneficial wildlife, including 35 species of songbirds.
Sweet Tea Mountain Gordlinia Tree
The Sweet Tea Mountain Gordlinia Tree (x Gordlinia grandiflora) was developed in 2003 by Ranney and Fantz of the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. It is a cross between Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin Tree) and Gordonia lasianthus (Loblolly Bay).
This tree produces large, showy camellia-like flowers with egg yolk yellow stamens in July through September, and these flowers boast a sweet fragrance. It also features luscious, narrow leaves that are semi-evergreen and turn red-orange in the fall.
The Sweet Tea Mountain Gordlinia Tree is a member of the tea family and has a mild, sweet fragrance. It makes for a good specimen tree and is considered more vigorous and hardier than its plant parents.
American Fringe Tree
Part of the olive family, the American Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) produces clusters of creamy white and fragrant flowers in the late spring, giving the tree a soft, fringe-like quality.
In the South, it’s also known as Granny Graybeard and Old Man’s beard due to its flowers’ soft, white appearance. It’s native to the Eastern United States.
The American Fringe tree can be both male and female. Males have larger flower blooms, but females produce blue-black fruits that ripen in late summer.
Yoshino Cherry Tree
Also called the Japanese flowering cherry tree, the Yoshino Cherry Tree (Prunus × yedoensis) is exhibited at many cherry blossom festivals worldwide. It’s put on display for a good reason – it can enchant many people with its white, pinkish flowers and slender bare branches.
The flowers are almond scented and bloom in March and April. Glossy green leaves emerge on the branches in the summer and turn yellow, orange, and red in the fall.
It’s native to Japan, where the blossoming of the cherry blossom has been celebrated for centuries.
American Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) is popular for its vibrant yellow-orange and gold leaves in the fall and its long string clusters of white pea-like flowers.
The flowers are most abundant during alternate years or every second or third year. Its leaves are bright green, providing contrast against its smooth silvery gray bark.
Because of its beauty, it’s popular as an ornamental plant in home gardens. It’s native to the Southeastern United States.
Washington Hawthorn Tree
The Washington Hawthorn Tree (Crataegus phaenopyrum) has an oval, rounded crown that is covered in abundant clusters of white flowers in late spring and glossy green leaves in the summer. In the fall, it turns a fiery scarlet, orange, and purple.
It produces green fruits which turn red in the winter, and these fruits attract many wild birds. The berries are also edible and can be made into jam or even tea. As with other hawthorns, it has slender thorns on its branches.
Washington Hawthorn is native from Virginia to Missouri, Arkansas, and Alabama.
Natchez Crepe Myrtle Tree
The Natchez Crepe Myrtle Tree (Lagerstroemia x) bears beautiful cotton white flowers in the summer. These flowers last for up to five months, and the tree produces vivid red-orange leaves in the fall. This tree originally comes from Asia, but it was naturalized in the Southeastern United States.
The texture of the flower petals resembles crepe paper, which gives it the first part of its name. In the summer, the tree turns an attractive green color. The Natchez is considered one of the top-performing Crepe Myrtle Trees in the Southeastern United States, according to LSU.
It’s also known for its smooth, hardy, cinnamon-brown exfoliating bark, which peels in the summer to reveal a smooth beige-colored bark underneath.
Cleveland Select Pear
The Cleveland Select Pear (Pyrus calleryana) was created in Cleveland, Ohio, and is a cultivar of the Bradford Pear tree. It was initially bred for ornamental purposes and doesn’t bear any fruit. Every spring, it produces an abundance of white blossoms.
Its leaves are glossy green in the summer and beautiful shades of mahogany red, purple, and orange in the fall. It grows in a neat, symmetrical shape and has strong, sturdy branches. It’s considered one of the hardiest of the Pyrus calleryana (Callery pear) tree species.
It’s native to China and Vietnam and planted broadly throughout the United States. That said, in some places, it’s also regarded as an invasive species. Additionally, the blossoms don’t smell that great up close, so this tree may not be the best option to plant in your backyard.
If you don’t want this variety of pear tree, you can select a different type of pear tree, most of which will still give you white flowers and fruit to eat.
Spring Snow Crabapple
Native to North America, the Spring Snow Crabapple (Malus ‘Spring Snow’) doesn’t grow crabapples – in fact, it’s completely fruitless. This makes it the only nearly sterile crabapple tree.
Instead, this crabapple produces beautiful white flowers that grow on the edges of the branches in the spring. The flowers are fragrant and sweet-smelling. Its leaves are oval and shiny green in the summer after the flowers fade and yellow in the fall.
Naturally a neat oval shape, it’s often used as an accent or street plant. It also makes a great focal point in home gardens.
The Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) produces large, white, and fragrant flowers which bloom throughout the summer and fall. It has smooth, evergreen leaves which remain on the canopy all winter long.
(In my opinion the flowers don’t smell great, but I can’t deny they’re beautiful and make a great addition to a yard.)
The flowers open in the morning and close at night for 2 or 3 days. The stamens are then shed, after which the flowers reopen and then disintegrate. After the flowers fade, the tree grows brown cones with bright red seeds in the fall that hang from the flowers on silky threads.
Beloved in the South, President Andrew Jackson transplanted this tree from his Tennessee home to the White House grounds in memory of his beloved wife, Rachel.
The Caroline Silverbell Tree (Halesia carolina) is native to the Southeastern United States in Piedmont and the southern Appalachian Mountains. In the wild, it’s commonly found on the lower mountain slopes, along stream banks, bottomlands, and coves, and thrives in rich soil.
It bears white, bell-shaped flowers in drooping clusters which appear in April. The flowers develop into green fruits that change to white and then mature into a light brown. Its bark is striped when young, then grey-brown with white fissures when older.
The leaves emerge close to when the flowers do and are a dark yellowish-green, turning yellow in the fall.
White Chiffon Rose of Sharon
The White Chiffon Rose of Sharon Tree (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodtwo’) is named for its beautiful white, large chiffon-like flowers, which bloom continuously from summer to fall. However, each individual flower lasts only about one day. Unlike many other Rose of Sharon flower varieties, they don’t have a different colored throat but are pure white.
The flowers contrast attractively with the tree’s green foliage and are especially showy and refreshing to see at night. Due to the purity of its white color, it makes for a great contrast with other colors in the landscape.
Native to India and China, it’s also the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Royal White Redbud
The Royal White Redbud Tree (Cercis canadensis f. alba’ Royal White’) is rare in the wild but is very popular in parks and backyards. It produces small white, rose-purple flowers on slender multi branches in the early spring of March and April and heart-shaped bronze leaves that turn blue-green in the summer and yellow in the fall.
The Royal White Redbud also blooms earlier and produces larger flowers than other white redbuds. It’s also considered a more compact option, making it a good option for backyards with limited space.
It makes for great understory or specimen planting. It’s native to eastern and central North America and is the state tree of Oklahoma.
Hawthorn Winter King
Native to the southeastern United States, the Hawthorn Winter King (Crataegus viridis) bears white flowers in corymbs in May, followed by small red fruits which remain throughout winter.
The leaves are glossy and dark and turn purple and red in the fall. Its profuse flowers and attractive fall coloring make it one of the most popular hawthorn trees for landscaping.
It doesn’t have as many thorns as other hawthorns and only produces occasional small ones. The bark exfoliates when the trunk is mature, revealing an orange bark underneath.
Lily of the Valley Tree
Native to Australia, this tree gets its name because of how similar its flowers are to the Lily of the Valley Tree (Convallaria majalis). It’s also commonly called Sourwood due to the sour odor of the leaves. Its foliage is dense and evergreen, glossy, and green all year round.
The flowers are white, urn-shaped, frilly at the edges, and pleasantly fragrant. The flowers bloom from late winter through summer for nearly three months. The tree also has a good yellow, red and purple fall color.
Kobus Magnolia Tree
Native to Japan and Korea, the Kobus Magnolia Tree (Kobushi magnolia) produces an abundance of white, fragrant, goblet-shaped flowers in the spring, with six narrow petals.
It’s one of the earliest magnolias to flower in spring. The tree doesn’t flower much when young, but the flowering increases with the trees’ maturity, eventually covering the tree in a white cloud. That said, before you plant this tree in your backyard, keep in mind that full flowering may take up to 30 years from seed, according to North Carolina State University.
After the flowers fade, the leaves are green, though they don’t produce many colors in the fall besides a dull yellowish-brown. It has a rounded shape and branches close to the ground.
The Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus) is native to China, Korea, and Japan. Its flowers are white and bell-shaped, blooming in May and providing a pleasant fragrance, while its leaves are dark green and yellow in the fall and drop in autumn. It has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Its fruit is hard green, egg-shaped, ripening in summer and remaining on the tree for many months. It doesn’t attract much wildlife. This tree’s hard, sturdy wood has been used to make toys, umbrella handles, and walking sticks.
The bark also has interesting orange-brown fissures forming an interlacing pattern. It is often used as a street tree in Japan and makes for a graceful understory option.
Japanese Tree Lilac
The Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata) blooms for two weeks in the early summer. Its blooms are large, foot-long clusters of small white, fragrant flowers. As its name suggests, it is native to northern Japan and is found growing on cliffs and in the scrub.
It has naturally spreading branches and a pleasing rounded head. The leaves are medium to dark and don’t produce much fall color, turning greenish-brown before dropping in autumn. The bark is an attractive reddish-brown and has noticeable lenticels.
These trees make excellent specimen trees, as well as street trees. Popular varieties include the Golden Eclipse Lilac, Ivory Silk, and Snowdance.