Vote for the Worst of the Worst-Tree.

Well due to all the excitement I have posted a Trees we do Not Like page over at Squidoo. Right now there are fifteen trees on the list, and the possibility of more to come.

I have it set up so the list can be voted on, sort of the worst of the worst.

What does this list mean? Absolutely nothing, but it’s fun to talk about and look at, and just maybe it will save someone some time, trouble, and money someday.

So if you got a second take a look, click a arrow. Or add a tree.

In the mean time: here are some of the candidates . . .

[Monkey Puzzle tree]

monkey puzzle tree

[courtesy Hugh Robertson]

[Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum tree]

trees Sweetgum in fall color

[courtesy Michigan State]

[Prunus cisterna Purpleleaf Sand Cherry]


Tree purple leaf sand cherry


[photo courtesy of Waynesboro Nurseries]

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. Hi there,
    That Monkey Puzzle tree picture (courtesy Hugh Robertson) – I think it looks more like a Bunya Pine? (Araucaria bidwillii) Very similar though.

    Have a good one! 🙂


    I see you are from “down under” so you may better have an idea, I will have to take a look at this other tree.

  2. I want to vote for a fourth tree: Ailanthus altissima, or Tree of Heaven. It stinks, it sends up suckers, it seeds all over the place–it’s a horrible weedy tree.

    Araucarias and Liquidambars have their place (preferably not over sidewalks, for several reasons!). I don’t think the same could be said for Ailanthus.

    Please go to the Squidoo site and vote away, thanks for commenting!

  3. Trees I don’t like… a bunch of botanical snobbery at it’s best. How many of you are reading this in a coffee house sipping your earl grey

  4. I am actually getting ready to plant 3 bradford pear trees in my yard. I saw that it made this list – can you tell me why you dislike it so much? Thanks.

    The Bradford is a short-lived tree and I much prefer folks put in something with a longer lifespan. “Leaving something to those that come after you”.

    The other thing that really turns me off-the Bradford has NO character. No great trunk, blah bark, boring shape, and no cranky twisting branches full of character. A so-so Spring flower and decent(decent not awesome) fall color-that’s it.

  5. Thanks for your input on the Bradford pear. I agree I would like to plant trees that my kids and grandkids will enjoy! Have any in mind that I could plant instead? I plan to plant 3 along the west edge of my driveway. I realize I will not find a tree with all of these – but here are some considerations: The strip where they will be planted is 10-15 ft wide (my driveway on one side and neighbors open front yard on the other). If i could find 3 trees that will act as a windbreak, w/o blocking the view too badly ( I know – cake and eat it too!). Fall color would be a great plus also! zone 6. Thank you for any input!

    I think you could take a look at cypress tress, the narrow Gingko tree, uh . . . some of the taller Chameacyparis cultivars could work.

    The trees that really last are the Oaks, Larger maples(except silver maple), Gingkos, Walnut, Horsechestnuts, Beeches . . . trees like that.

  6. I will add to this list the Russian Olive. It is a a horrible invasive that is a close competitor of the Bradford Pear because it reproduces itself. It damages river habitats and makes a general nuisance of itself. It quickly ages and becomes ugly. Then it sits around for years and looks tatty before having the good grace to expire.

    My neighbor has a Bradford Pear. The thing smells like Play Doh in the spring. It has a great mat of roots that chokes out anything else I try to plant. I have told my neighbor that the tree will probably self destruct in the next fifteen years. I recommend that she replace it with a politer tree.

  7. What are the best trees? I need a small (15 ft. ish) for my front yard where a very large tree came down after a winter ice storm. My yard is sooo bare now. I want something interesting and easy to grow in zone 5.

    Go to your local mom and pop nursery and ask them their opinion, and make sure you can describe your soil conditions, drainage issues, sun/shade issues.

    Also ask about wildlife, fall color, Spring color all of that and you will come up with the answer you best need for your part of the country.

  8. You all must remember….all trees have thier purpose. It might not be in the urban or suburban landscape but it might be a a pioneering species that is part of the evolutionalry cycle of succession that takes place in most fields where the silver maples and other fast growing NATIVE species begin the process of transforming an open filed into a mature forest.

    That being said in defense of trees…..Don’t EVER plant a Siberian Elm tree in an urban or suburban yard. Fast growing, weak wooded, just as it matures, large 6 to 12 inch plus branches will be breaking off in the wind. Leave it to the successional meadows.

  9. I know this is not part of the initial conversation, but has anyone noticed the image of the Bradford Pear tree associated with this site resembles a woman dancing?

  10. Brazillian Pepper Trees Are the WORST! a category 1 invasive species, this posion ivy relative is sticky with stinky sap, and its taking over south floridas landscape

    1. In the Panhandle of Texas – all trees are charished. So few and far between. Even the dreaded Chinese Elm is a nice sight to see when there is nothing else to look at but wide open range land.

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