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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Wind-tolerant plants, Acer palmatum

I want to find an Acer palmatum cultivar that can manage full sun and high winds. Is this asking too much of the dainty thing? Can you suggest a type, or a source that lists palmatums and their various needs and attributes?


Interestingly enough, Acer palmatum is listed as possessing medium-high wind resistance by University of Florida Extension in their trees-and-hurricanes information.

The following comes from Mississippi State University Extension:
"The U.S. Forest Service conducted a study after Hurricane Camille devastated the Coast in 1969. The study indicated that the best wind resistant trees are compact and have major tap roots. Trees with a tapered trunk have a low center of gravity and are more stable."

I would be concerned about scorching from exposure to hot wind, and damage from winter wind even if the tree is not likely to lose limbs. Here is what J. D. Vertrees's book, Japanese Maples (Timber Press, 2001, 3rd ed.) has to say: "A spot with a constant strong wind will misshape the plant and may burn the leaves. In winter, the wind-chill factor may cause bark and cambium damage (...) In areas of strong marine breezes, leaf damage from salt deposits may occasionally occur. Anyone growing plants under such conditions should be familiar with the necessary protection and the need for periodic washing of the foliage with fresh water."(p. 63)

A commercial nursery, Maple Ridge groups Acer palmatum cultivars by type. University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens offers additional information.

Date 2018-05-23
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Pittosporum, Wind-tolerant plants, Morella californica, Arbutus unedo, Osmanthus, Pyracantha, Chamaecyparis, Arctostaphylos, Pinus, Cotoneaster, Ceanothus

I am looking for evergreen hedges that will tolerate a windy site. Do you have any suggestions?


Sunset Western Garden Book (2007 edition) has a list of wind-resistant plants. From that list, there were a few plants which meet some of your site's needs (evergreen, fast-growing, about 7-10 feet tall). They are:

  • Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)
  • Arctostaphylos (Manzanita)
  • Ceanothus
  • Chamaecyparis
  • Cotoneaster
  • Escallonia
  • Morella californica
  • Pinus species (you would need a dwarf pine for your size limits)
  • Pittosporum (many of these grow taller than 10 feet over time, but P. tobira might work)
  • Pyracantha

I don't know if it is tolerant of winter winds, but Osmanthus delavayi makes a nice, dense evergreen hedge with flowers, and reaches about 8 feet. It grows fairly quickly also.

Two good resources for finding more information on the plants above are Oregon State University's Landscape Plants and Great Plant Picks.

Also, I found an article (no longer available) on wind tolerance from Colorado State University Extension which may be of interest. Here is an excerpt about the physical characteristics of wind tolerant plants:

"When considering which trees and shrubs do well in windy conditions, examine the shape and thickness of the leaves, stems and branches. Wind-resistant trees usually have flexible, wide spreading, strong branches and low centers of gravity. Wind tolerant shrubs often have small, thick or waxy leaves or very narrow leaves (or needles), to help control moisture loss. Plant species that have large, flat leaves "catch" wind. These plants have a tendency for branch breakage when strong gusts blow, or if laden with heavy, wet snow. Evergreen (conifer) trees are an excellent choice, having needles and being flexible in high winds."

Date 2017-04-22
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May 31 2018 13:14:08