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Theodore Klein Plant Awards

Small Flowering Trees

Below you’ll find the Small Flowering Trees that have received the honor of “Theodore Klein Plant Award” in alphabetical order based on its Latin name.

Acer griseum x maximowiczianum
Hybrid Maple

Girard’s Maple is a small, upright oval tree for sun or part shade. It is appreciated for its cinnamon-colored flaking bark, trifoliate bluish green leaves and orange-red fall color. Girard’s maple shows more vigor and faster growth than A. griseum.

Acer miyabei
Miyabei Maple
State Street™, ‘Morton’

A little known but excellent medium sized tree that works well as a garden, lawn or street tree. Upright oval shape and tremendous cultural adaptability allows this plant to work in many different situations. Dark green summer foliage turns brilliant gold in fall.

Acer palmatum var dissectum
Japanese Maple

An excellent collection of superior performing sugar maple selections, these will all create upright rounded shade trees with uniform outline, attractive, scaly gray bark and brilliant red/orange fall foliage color. Best on a good quality soil with adequate moisture.

Acer triflorum
Three-flower Maple

Outstanding small to medium tree for the garden, Three Flower Maple offers light gray, scaly bark, showy fall color of golden yellow to brick red and tremendous adaptability. It will tolerate most soils, has few pest/disease problems and is a long-lived attractive tree. Despite its name, flowers are not particularly showy.

Aesculus parviflora
Bottlebrush Buckeye

A large, colonizing shrub known for its late spring/early summer spikes of clear white flowers and excellent yellow fall foliage color. It is easy to grow, adaptable to a wide range of soils, has few pest and disease problems and makes a long-lived and trouble free specimen in the garden. Best in light shade but will take full sun with adequate soil moisture. An excellent pollinator plant – particularly attractive to bumble bees and butterflies.

The variety serrotina is a form that flowers about 2 weeks later and has longer flower spikes compared to the straight species. ‘Rogers’ is the best known cultivar of this variety.

Amelanchier x

Serviceberry is an excellent small flowering tree known for its informal, upright form covered with white flowers in spring, blueberry-live summer fruit (that are loved by many bird species) and red/orange fall foliage color. It works well in both full sun and light shade. Easy to grow and a multi-season plant. ‘Cumulus’ is known for excellent foliage quality and fall color

Asimina triloba
Paw Paw

A native woodland tree throughout Kentucky, Paw Paw bears large, tropical-looking leaves, small unique dark burgundy flowers and distinct banana-like fruit. Paw Paw requires a moist rich soil and is happiest in full sun to partial shade.

Carpinus caroliana
American Hornbeam
Native Flame® ('JFS-KW6'), Ball O’Fire™ (‘JN Globe’), FireSpire™ (JN Upright), and ‘JN Strain’

This outstanding small to medium tree makes a long lived, pest resistant specimen that has unique, muscular branching, smooth, dark gray bark and excellent deep green summer foliage. The listed cultivars have been selected for excellent and consistent red fall foliage color.

Cercis canadensis
Common Red Bud
'Appalachian Red'

Redbud is a common small garden tree best known for its crops of lavender/pink flowers in spring. This selection is different in that it produces flowers of a shocking fuchsia color. Best on a sunny site in any reasonable soil.

Cercis canadensis
Common Redbud
‘Silver Cloud’'

This Theodore Klein introduction of our native redbud offers bright white variegation on the medium-green, heart-shaped leaves. The April flowers of pink/lavender are a common sight throughout the bluegrass and make a great addition to any garden. Plant in full sun or part shade in any reasonable garden soil.

Chionanthus retusus
Chinese Fringetree

This small to medium tree is prized for its glossy green leaves, fragrant white flowers in late spring and its cultural adaptability. Plant in full sun or light shade in reasonably rich soil and it will provide years of enjoyment.

‘Tokyo Tower’ is a more upright selection that has performed well in the landscape.

Cladrastis kentukea
American Yellowwood

This medium-sized tree is prized for late spring crops of white, sweetly fragrant and slightly pendulous flower clusters. Bright green summer foliage turns a glowing yellow in fall. The bark is a smooth gray and adds interest all year long. Likes a moist and rich soil.

‘KN30-8’ Venus®

Outstanding hybrid dogwood grown for its large white spring floral displays up to 6″ in diameter or more on mature plants. Deep green, glossy foliage turns to a stunning red/burgundy and orange show in fall. Easy to grow and an excellent addition to about any garden.

Developed by Dr. Elwin Orton, Rutgers University. Hybrid of Cornus kousa and Cornus nuttallii.

Cornus florida
Flowering Dogwood
‘Appalachian Spring’

This Tennessee introduction is the most disease-resistant flowering dogwood on the market today. Classic white spring blooms, bright red fall fruit and red/ orange fall foliage combine to make the perfect package. Plant in rich, moist soil in partial shade.

Cornus kousa
Chinese Dogwood
'Wolf Eyes'

Fabulous white & green variegated foliage on a compact version of the popular Chinese dogwood. This dense grower produces a vase shape to rounded mass of bright variegated foliage with 4-bracted, creamy white blooms in late spring/early summer. Grows well in both full sun and part shade and is about 1/2 the size of straight species.

Cornus kousa
Chinese Dogwood

One of the best cultivars on the market today, this selection develops deep, glossy green leaves, brilliant white late spring floral displays, and excellent fall color of red, orange, and burgundy. It is highly disease resistant small tree and adaptable to a wide range of soils. Best for full sun but happy in part shade as well.

Cornus mas
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
'Golden Glory'

Known as an excellent small garden tree for early color, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood produces masses of bright yellow flowers in early to mid spring followed by dark red cherry-like, edible fruit. Mature plants grow to about 20′ tall and wide but the selection ‘Golden Glory’ tends to be more upright in shape and is a very heavy bloomer.

Lagerstromia hydrids.
Crepe Myrtle
Examples: ‘Acoma’, Kiowa', ‘Hopi’, 'Nachez'

The Crepe Myrtle selections developed by the late Dr. Don Egolf (US National Arboretum) are among the most cold hardy and dependable available. They combine great vigor, heavy flowering and attractive exfoliating bark. Plant in full sun and avoid wet soils for best performance. Acoma, Kiowa and Natchez are white flowered while Hopi produces pink flowers.

Maackia amurensis
Amur Maackia

This small tree member of the pea family is best known for crops of creamy white, sweetly scented flowers in late spring that are frequented by scores of pollinator insects. Early stem and leaf growth is covered with attractive silvery hairs. The species is tremendously adaptable to a wide range of soils and moisture conditions. One tough tree!.

The cultivar ‘Starburst’ doesn’t seem to be distinct from the species.


This excellent and extremely cold hardy hybrid deciduous magnolia forms a small to medium tree with early spring, gleaming white flowers before the leaves emerge. Flowers occasionally hit by late freezes/frosts but typically the stem growth is unaffected. Excellent small tree for full sun on about any reasonable soil.

Magnolia × loebneri
‘Leonard Messel’

One of the very best magnolias for Kentucky! This compact grower to 18’ tall, produces wonderfully frost-tolerant and sweetly fragrant spring blooms of bright fuchsia and white. Plant in full sun in any reasonable soil.

Magnolia virginiana var. australis
Sweetbay Magnolia
'Henry Hicks', 'Northern Bell', 'Aiken County', 'Green Bay' syn. 'Green Shadow'

This upright oval magnolia is best known for its crops of creamy white, lemon-scented flowers cast against dark green foliage. Easy to grow in any reasonable soil, it is an excellent selection for lengthening the spring bloom season. The variety australis is the evergreen form of the species.

Excellent cultivars include: Henry Hicks, Northern Belle, Aiken County, Green Bay (Green Shadow)

Parrotia persica
Persian Parrotia

This slow-growing and long lived tree is known for its brilliant but variable fall foliage color, showy exfoliating bark and cultural adaptability. The early spring magenta/red flowers are a nice early touch of color but are rather small and only visible on close inspection. Best in a rich soil, but once established, quite drought tolerant.

Many cultivars available for consistent fall color: Red Vase, Vanessa. Also several weeping forms available.

Prunus x yedoensis
Japanese Flowering Cherry

A stunning, 20’-35’ tree that bears pale pink spring flowers that smother the branches. An excellent selection for a sunny location, it is fairly adaptable to a wide range of soils and offers nice yellow/orange fall foliage color.

Syringa reticulata
Japanese Tree Lilac
'Ivory Silk'

This medium -sized tree is grown for its fragrant, ivory-white flowers, attractive bark and wide adaptability. It works well as a garden tree as well in parking lot and street tree situations. This is a long lived, durable species with few pest problems. ‘Ivory Silk’ was selected for a more narrow, upright shape and uniform growth.

Explore the other categories of plants that have been named recipients of the Theodore Klein Plant Awards:

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