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Giant cottonwood tree with fall foliage

Trees Not Native to Kansas

Though Kansas’ state tree, the cottonwood, is native to the part of the continent where Kansas is now found, other trees are not. Some were brought from other places — such as Europe, China, Japan or other parts of Asia — and planted deliberately. In other cases, some voyaging seed hitched a ride and found Kansas’ soil and climate just right. Some trees that you’ll be surprised to learn aren’t native to the state include:

  • Sycamore
  • Weeping Willow
  • Paper mulberry
  • Chinese fringe tree
  • Ginkgo biloba


The commonly seen sycamore, or plane tree with its mottled bark and maple-like leaves, is actually native to western and central Europe. It is planted both in Europe and the United States, along the streets as well as in gardens and parks. It is famous for its fruits, which are famously prickly balls that grow in clusters of two to four. Sycamore trees can grow to 100 feet tall.

Weeping Willow

The graceful weeping willow, often seen in parks and gardens near ponds, streams and lakes, is native to China. It can grow to 33 feet in height and produces catkins in the middle of May. Male catkins are yellow, and female catkins are green. The long, slender leaves hang down in masses and give this tree its unmistakable look.

Paper Mulberry

This beautiful tree is native to Japan and China, and as its name suggests, its bark is used to make paper. The bark is also woven into fine cloth. The paper mulberry is often found in parks and gardens, but now and then you’ll find a wild specimen. This tree can grow to about 50 feet, but it’s also found as a shrub with a round habit.

Chinese Fringe Tree

The Chinese fringe tree, which can grow to as high as 70 feet, is native to east Asia. It has beautiful, fluffy white flowers that give way to blue-black berries in the fall. Its bark, which is thick and fissured, is also attractive.

Ginkgo Biloba

This prehistoric tree with its beautiful, fan-shaped leaves is native to China. Today, it’s found in parks all around the world in temperate climates. It can grow to 100 feet, and the male and female flowers are found on separate trees. Female ginkgo trees are seldom planted because their fruit, though edible, smells bad as it starts to decay.

Call Our Arborists for Information

If you’re surprised to find the beautiful tree in your yard is not quite native to Kansas, don’t worry. Our arborists at My Complete Tree can give you pointers to help you keep your tree healthy and growing for years. Call us today.

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