14 Best Deciduous Forest Plants (With Photos)

This article may contain some affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on any of teh links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Deciduous forest plants are attractive plants known to lose their leaves after every growing season. These plants are primarily found in deciduous forests.

So, deciduous forests are not only renowned for harboring many bacteria, invertebrates, animals, and even birds; another thing that makes deciduous forests outstanding is that it mesmerizes people by losing their leaves at the end of every growing season.

Imagine walking into a forest and having different leaves fall off trees or shrubs. Maple trees, beeches, hydrangea, azaleas, and butterfly bushes are some of the numerous types of deciduous plants you are most likely to encounter in any deciduous forest worldwide.

In this article, you’ll learn all there is to know about deciduous forests and the plants you will find in any of the woods.

Let’s get started!

Facts About Deciduous Forest Plants

First off, there cannot be any deciduous forest if there are no deciduous plants. Deciduous plants make up deciduous forests. Earlier, we revealed that the fantastic thing about deciduous forests is that most trees lose their leaves at the end of every growing season.

So, unlike the evergreen plants that maintain their leaves, deciduous plants are quite the opposite, as they are prone to lose their leaves at the end of every growing season. Therefore, leaves shedding in many plants are normal and cannot be prevented.

There are many types of deciduous plants, and they grow in all parts of the world. So you may have met any of them. These types of plants can grow in temperate deciduous forest or tropical/subtropical deciduous forests.

Now, let’s learn about deciduous forest plants!

List of Deciduous Forest Plants

Different species of plants grow in deciduous forests, whether shrubs or trees. These plants serve a huge role as they are mainly used for ornamental purposes and to make professional landscapes.

1. European hornbeam

The European hornbeam tree looks like a birch tree, hence the scientific name caprinus’ betulus’ meaning ‘birch like’; it is also called common hornbeam. This tree is a deciduous tree that is native to Europe, Asia, and even southeastern England.

The tree grows up to 40-60 ft in height when it reaches maturity. The leaves of the European hornbeam tree are ovate with sharply and doubly toothed margins and a pointed tip; it can grow 2½ to 5 inches long.

Apart from being a deciduous tree, this pyramidal tree is an excellent landscape tree—no wonder many households use it as hedges or privacy screens around their homes.

The most common cultivar Fastiaga grows 30 to 40 feet tall and can grow 20 to 30 feet wide.

Shower the tree with full sun or light shade on almost any well-drained soil; it can do great both in acid and alkaline soil and can tolerate drought and awful conditions but do not test its patience.

2. Chinese dogwood

If you have always admired a small deciduous tree, you just found one! Also known as kousa dogwood, Korean dogwood, and Japanese dogwood, Chinese dogwood is a small deciduous plant native to East Asia: Korea, China, and Japan.

Scientifically referred to as Cornus kousa, the Chinese dogwood is also an ornamental plant fit for gardening; it can grow up to 8-12m and with its attractive bark, foliage, flowers, and shape, you cannot but pay the uttermost attention to its growth.

It only requires a few growing tips to keep the Chinese dogwood plant in perfect condition.

3. Silver maple

The maple tree is one amongst other plant types grown chiefly in deciduous forests. 

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is a maple tree species native to the Eastern and central United States and southeastern Canada. Creek maple, silver leaf maple, soft maple, and swamp maple are other names for silver maple.

Unlike other trees, the silver maple tree grows quickly and can provide shade earlier than other trees. It is a large tree that can grow 35 meters tall when in its best condition.

4. Callery pear tree

Native to Asia, the Callery pear tree (Pyrus calleryana) is a deciduous plant that grows rapidly as an ornamental tree. Little wonder it has become an invasive species and is called an ornamental pear tree.

Also known as the Bradford pear tree from the Rosaceae family, the Callery pear tree carries this offensive odor that might relatively taint its attractive nature. However, this plant is widely gaining popularity even in the United States.

The Callery pear tree grows up to 5 to 8m ( 16 to 26ft) tall; you would most certainly find the tree attractive, having glossy dark green leaves that are 4 to 8cm long. The white petaled flowers in it are about 2 to 2.5cm.

This deciduous plant does well in full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade; although it needs watering to bloom graciously, it can tolerate slight drought. If you leave it in its best condition, it will produce abundantly in early spring.

The Callery pear tree can resist diseases to a relatable extent. However, they are susceptible to strong winds, storm damage, or winter weather.

5. Pink silk tree

The pink silk tree is also known as the Persian silk or mimosa tree. This deciduous tree is named after the Italian nobleman Filippo Degli Albizzi, thus the scientific name Albizia julibrissin.

Pink silk is a sensitive tree from the family Fabaceae and is short-lived because the average life span is 30 years.

The mimosa tree is planted chiefly because of its elegant leaves and flowers and because it blooms remarkably in early June.

Many people would, in many cases, refer to it as a flowering plant. Unlike the Callery pear tree, the fragrance from this tree is quite admirable and highly compelling.

To grow a pink most times tree, you would need a well-draining, slightly alkaline, and acidic soil, whether clay, sandy or loamy. The tree will not do well in coastal regions because of its high salt content.

Although deciduous plants can tolerate shade, they prefer hot summer temperatures.

6. American hornbeam

Carpinus Carolinian is the scientific name of the American hornbeam; it is also referred to as blue-beech, muscle beech, or ironwood. Native to Eastern North America and mostly used as a natural landscape, the American hornbeam is yet another deciduous plant in deciduous forests.

The growth rate of the American hornbeam is slow and only adds about one foot a year, but if you expose it to an acceptable condition, it can grow up to 20 to 40 feet tall and also 20 to 30 feet wide.

The tree can tolerate a slight harshness from any condition, but extreme can ruin your efforts in less time. So be intentional about its growth, and it will reward your effort.

7. Himalayan birch

Here’s another deciduous plant that you may see in deciduous forests. Himalayan birch (Betula utilis) is a deciduous tree native to the western Himalayas.

It is a spectacular tree with oval, mid-green leaves. The birch bark is strong and water-resistant, so the tree can be used for many things.

The tree can grow up to 14,800 ft once in the correct and permissible growing conditions. And if you intend to have it in your garden or your yard, you are sure you are ending up with an attractive ornamental tree in no time.

8. Purple-leaf European beech

Imagine glossy purple foliage falling sparingly in your yard or garden; amazing, right? That’s what you get having purple-leaf European beech around your home.

Purple leaf European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a deciduous tree that can grow from 70 to 80 feet tall and 50 to 70 feet wide. The plant flowers from April to May, but when it’s that time of the season for rebirth, it begins to lose old foliage.

The plant does not require all your attention to thrive; enough sunlight and water will undoubtedly fill your garden with beauty and ecstatic.

Trees are relatively tall and woody plants that regularly renew their growth. Now that you have seen many deciduous trees, let’s learn about the shrubs you can find in deciduous forests.

List of Deciduous Forest Shrubs

9. Butterfly bush

The butterfly bush (buddleja) is a deciduous shrub comprising over 140 flowering plants native to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The butterfly bush is a beautiful plant notable for its fast-growing abilities; it blooms from summer to autumn.

However, when the growing season ends, it graciously sheds off the old foliage for new growth. The plant does relatively well in warmer climates. If you want them to reward your garden with their beautiful foliage as they bloom.

10. Azalea

Azalea is a deciduous flowering shrub in the genus Rhododendron that grows rewarding any garden. It finds itself with beautiful blooms. It is from the Ericaceae family and known to shed its foliage at every giving season, just like other deciduous plants.

Their bursting and vibrant colors are indeed admirable and a sight to behold; that explains why many households would resort to keeping it even when t loses its foliage occasionally.

Leave Azalea in full sun to partial shade. A full sun of about four hours is more rewarding. Watering the shrubs is not paramount, yet it needs proper watering for their growth and blooming. So give it the care and attention that it needs.

11. Bailey Compact

Like trees, shrubs can lose their foliage to allow room for foliage, and if you want an attractive shrub and shading leaves or foliage that still offers beauty to your garden, then bailey compact it is.

The plant’s leaves are green during the early growth period, with some beautiful white flowers growing.

However, during fall, the foliage turns red and sheds the foliage. Bailey compact loves moisture and would reward your result if you offer it enough moisture, but a bit of drought will not snuff out the plant’s life.

12. Common lilac

Scientifically referred to as syringe vulagris is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae; this deciduous plant is known for its irresistible fragrant and showy flower.

It grows anywhere from 12 to 15 feet tall, and you would see them in many colors, while light purple or dark purple.

The hardy plant can thrive with little care, making it a great plant. If you do not have experience growing flowering shrubs, leaving them in the best growing condition would reward your efforts with bloom.

13. Hydrangea

Commonly referred to as the hortensia, hydrangea is a genus of over 75 species of other flowering plants. The hydrangea is native to Asia and the Americas; they are known to have sticky pollen, which makes it almost impossible for the wind to toss the pollen around.

Hydrangeas are by far the easiest flowering plants for your garden. Do not underestimate it; it can grow into a substantial shrub.

The plant can grow 3 to 5 ft fall while rewarding your garden with mind-blowing colors- the color ranges from purple to blue and even pink. Consider hydrangea your next short gate to beautify your home if these are your innermost intention.

14. Japanese barberry

Also known as red barberry, or Thunberg’s barberry, the Japanese barberry is a small deciduous invasive shrub that has long found its way into many households and other commercial landscapes. This is mainly because it does ideally well as an ornamental plant.

It can grow 6 feet taller, with its leaves or foliage shedding at the end of every growing season. During its bloom time, you are most likely going to find bright red berries growing amongst their leaves and blooming with them in no time.


You can go well with deciduous plants even when they lose their leaves at every growing season. Apart from the odd ways, losing leaves will reward your garden or yard with extra beauty when it blooms. You would only offer it the best growing conditions.

Deciduous forest plants are way too many, and you would encounter difficulties finding the perfect one for your yard because many of them are great when you use them as hedges or screens.

This guide revealed the deciduous plants you can quickly try, even if it is your first time growing the plant.

We hope this guide is helpful to you.

Related Posts: