Marshall Tree Farm

Relative Tolerance of Tree Species to Construction Damage

Kim D. Coder

Professor, Silvics/Ecology
Warnell School of Forest Resources
The University of Georgia

August, 1996

Each tree species, and each unique individual, will respond to the stress and strain of construction activities in different ways. Some species vary widely in their response to mechanical injury, pest attack, soil modifications, and micro-climatic changes associated with construction. As more tree tissues, physical space and essential resources are disrupted, the more a tree must effectively react to these changes to insure survival.

The variability of general tree reactions to construction damage represents a range of tolerances. Some trees tolerate damage well — others tolerate damage poorly. The relative tolerance differences between native species are given in this table as are the primary limiting factors. This list represents only broad expectations of tree reactions and cannot show specific reactions to specific sites changes and circumstances. It is assumed each species is being evaluated within their home range.

The key to symbols in the third column of this table, entitled “tolerance” are the relative value of “g” for good, “m” for medium, and “p” for poor. These are broad recognitions of species’ reactions to activities around construction sites within one-and-one-half times the drip line distance from the tree. For example, a poor tolerance rating signifies a tree which will have difficulty reacting well to construction damage.

The forth column of this table, entitled “limitations,” symbolizes critical constraints governing species tolerances on construction sites. The key to symbols of poor tree reactions includes: physical injury (compartmentalization and decay) “I”; pest complications (chronic and acute attacks) “P”; soil constraints (aeration and water availability attributes) “S”; limited climatic tolerances (native range, hardiness, and micro-climatic change) “C”; and, all of these reactions combined “A.”

Scientific Name Common Name Tolerance Limitations
Acer barbatum Florida maple m IS
Acer leucoderme chalk maple p A
Acer negundo boxelder g IC
Acer saccharinum silver maple p A
Acer spicatum mountain maple m IC
Aesculus octandra yellow buckeye p IS
Aesculus pavia red buckeye m I
Amelanchier arborea downy serviceberry m IS
Aralia spinosa devil’s walking stick m I
Betula allegheniansis yellow birch m ISC
Betula lenta sweet birch m IC
Bumelia lanuginosa gum bumelia m A
Bumelia lycioides buckthorn bumelia m A
Carpinus caroliniana American hornbeam m SC
Carya cordiformis bitternut hickory p S
Carya glabra pignut hickory m S
Carya ovata shagbark hickory p S
Carya tomentosa mockernut hickory mp S
Castanea alnifolia Florida chinkapin m P
Castanea pumila Allegheny chinkapin p P
Celtis laevigata sugarberry g I
Celtis tenuifolia Georgia hackberry m IS
Cephalanthus occidentalis common buttonbush g I
Cercis canadensis redbud m S
Chionanthus virginicus fringetree m IS
Cladrastis kentukea yellowwood p A
Clethra acuminata cinnamon clethra m IS
Cliftonia monophylla buckwheat tree m IS
Cornus alternifolia alternate-leaf dogwood m IS
Cornus florida dogwood m IP
Cornus stricta swamp dogwood g I
Cyrilla racemiflora swamp cyrilla m I
Diospyros virginiana persimmon g P
Erythrina herbacea Eastern coralbean m I
Euonymus atropurpureus Eastern wahoo m I
Fagus grandifolia American beech p A
Fraxinus americana white ash m IS
Halesia carolina Carolina silverbell m ISC
Halesia diptera two-wing silverbell m IS
Halesia parviflora little silverbell m IS
Hamamelis virginiana witch-hazel m IS
Ilex montana mountain winterberry gm C
Juglans nigra black walnut p IS
Juniperus virginiana Eastern redcedar m I
Liriodendron tulipifera yellow-poplar p IS
Magnolia acuminata cucumbertree m I
Magnolia fraseri Fraser magnolia p IC
Magnolia grandiflora Southern magnolia m I
Magnolia pyramidata pyramid magnolia p IC
Malus angustifolia Southern crabapple m ICP
Malus coronaria sweet crabapple m ICP
Nyssa ogeche Ogeechee tupelo m IS
Osmanthus americana devilwood m I
Ostrya virginiana Eastern hophornbeam m S
Oxydendrum arboreum sourwood p A
Pinckneya pubens pinckneya m I
Pinus echinata shortleaf pine gm P
Pinus palustris longleaf pine gm C
Pinus pungens table-mountain pine gm C
Pinus strobus Eastern white pine m A
Prunus americana American plum m IS
Prunus angustifolia chickasaw plum m IS
Prunus pensylvanica fire cherry m I
Prunus serotina black cherry m I
Prunus umbellata flatwoods plum m I
Ptelea trifoliata hoptree m I
Quercus alba white oak gm S
Quercus phellos willow oak gm S
Quercus prinus chestnut oak gm S
Quercus rubra Northern red oak gm SC
Quercus virginiana live oak gm C
Rhamnus caroliniana Carolina buckthorn m IS
Rhododendron catawbiense catawba rhododendron m I
Rhododendron maximum rosebay rhododendron m I
Rhus coppalina shining sumac m I
Rhus glabra smooth sumac m I
Robinia pseudoacacia black locust g P
Sambucus canadensis American elder p A
Styrax americana American snowbell m IS
Styrax grandifolia bigleaf snowbell m IS
Symplocos tinctoria common sweetleaf g I
Tilia caroliniana Carolina basswood p A
Tilia heterophylla white basswood p A
Toxicodendron vernix poison sumac m I
Tsuga canadensis Eastern hemlock p A
Ulmus americana American elm m P
Ulmus rubra slippery elm m P
Vaccinium arboreum tree sparkleberry m A
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis Hercules-club m I