Tree Species Availability for Ridgely Manor Park Giveaway

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Take home your own free tree!

Blue Water Baltimore is partnering with the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, NeighborSpace, the Ridgely Manor Community Association and the Green Towson Alliance to offer residents a variety of native tree species for free! From small flowering and fruiting trees to large canopy trees, each one makes a difference in our city. Trees cool and clean our air, absorb stormwater, increase biodiversity, and beautify our neighborhoods.

The Rules:

  • Free trees are for residents of Baltimore County or Baltimore City. By accepting a tree, you are agreeing to plant it on your property/with permission from property owner within two weeks of the giveaway date (by May 29th, 2021).
  • Free trees are for planting in your front and/or back yard only. (If you are a resident of Baltimore City and would like to request a new STREET tree, use this form instead.
  • All trees are first-come, first-serve, while supplies last.
  • All pickups will be on May 15th. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to accommodate day-of walk-ups at this time. 
  • There is a limit of 3 trees per household. Remember, all understory trees (serviceberry, american hornbeam and witch hazel) are limited to only ONE per species per household. All other trees allow up to two.
  • Note: This website is intended to provide general information only. Always seek the advice of a health professional before eating any plant matter. Information provided is not designed to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any illness, or injury. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused.

Right tree, Right place

It is important to do your research and carefully select the tree(s) species that are right for your yard. Go outside and take a look at your space. Think about expected height and spread, lifespan, and sunlight and soil conditions. Take into consideration any overhead power lines, low areas where rainwater collects, nearby pedestrian right of ways, etc that might impact your tree.

Available tree species are as follows. Keep in mind that quantities are limited and may ‘sell’ out:


 American Holly – Ilex opaca


Giveaway size: 1 gallon, 18-24 inches tall

Height: 30-50 feet | Spread: 15-25 feet | Light: full sun-part shade | Moisture: dry-moist

American holly is a slow-growing evergreen tree that adds year-round beauty to landscaping. Hollies make great privacy screens and are often planted in groups. They tolerate a broad range of soil conditions, but not flooding or poorly drained soils. If you plant American holly for the bright red berries, you will need to plant more than one to make sure you have both male and female plants. American holly provides important wildlife services. Many species of birds and mammals eat the bitter berries, but the fruits are poisonous to humans. The tree also forms a thick canopy which offers protection for birds from predators and storms. The flowers are pollinated by insects including bees, wasps, ants and night-flying moths. American holly is the larval plant for Henry’s Elfin butterfly. This is the holly whose berry-laden boughs are typically collected at Christmas time each year for ornamentation (“decking the halls” as it were).

Bald cypress – Taxodium distichum


Giveaway size: 2-3 gallon, 3-6 feet tall

Height: 50-70 feet | Spread: 20-45 feet | Light: full sun-part shade | Moisture: medium-wet

Bald cypress is a majestic long-lived, pyramidal conifer (cone-bearing tree) with soft, ferny foliage that enhances many landscapes. Although they resemble a needled evergreen (same family as redwoods), they are deciduous, which means that their feathery leaves turn copper-colored and fall to the ground in the winter (The tree becomes “bald” as the common name suggests!) Bald cypresses prefer “wet feet” or moist areas. In the deep South, large stands are a familiar sight growing directly in swampy water, with their branches heavily draped with Spanish moss. In cultivation, however, they also grow well in drier, upland soils. Trunks feature an attractive, exfoliating bark and are buttressed (flared or fluted) at the base. Bald cypresses often develop distinctive, knobby root growths (“knees”) which protrude above the water surface around the tree.  




Eastern cottonwood – Populus deltoides


Giveaway size: 1 gallon, 3-6 feet tall

Height: 50-80 feet | Spread: 35-60 feet | Light: full sun | Moisture: medium-wet

Eastern cottonwood is a large, very fast-growing tree that typically grows in lowlands along streams. It tolerates a wide range of soils and can withstand occasional flooding. Large triangular leaves have a flat petiole (leaf stem) which causes them to flap magnificently in the breeze (Similar to the quaking aspen, also in the willow family). These leaves turn a beautiful copper-yellow in the fall. Cottonwoods broadcast abundant densely tufted seeds with silky white airs that blow through the air and collect along curbs, roadsides and fences (and resemble cotton). The bark contains an aspirin-like compound that can been used medicinally. Eastern cottonwoods are a popular nesting sites for Baltimore orioles!



Chinkapin oak – Quercus muehlebergii


Giveaway size: 1 gallon, 1-2 feet tall

Height: 40-70 feet | Spread: 50-70 feet | Light: full sun | Moisture: dry-medium

Chinkapin (or Chinquapin) oak is a mid-sized, relatively fast-growing member of the white oak group. Chinkapins grow primarily in dry, rocky soils and have good drought tolerance, but can also flourish in moist, fertile loams in cultivation. Broad, low branches provide excellent shade in the hot summer months. The leaves resemble that of chestnuts and have attractive yellow-orange fall color. Chinkapin oak is the larval host for the Gray Hairstreak butterfly. It may take up to 30 years for this tree to bear its first crop of acorns.

In general, planting an oak tree (quercus) is leaving a legacy of clean air and water for the next generation. Oaks are slow-growing and long-lived. They filter vast amounts of air and water throughout their lifetimes (multiple centuries). They have extremely high wildlife value and support hundreds of species of native insects, birds, and mammals.


Loblolly pine – Pinus taeda


Giveaway size: 2 gallon, 3-5 feet tall

Height: 40-70 feet | Spread: 20-40 feet | Light: full sun | Moisture: medium-wet

Loblolly pine is a fast-growing, fragrant conifer (cone-bearing tree) that grows well in a variety of conditions and typically reaches 40-50 feet tall. ‘Loblolly’ meaning ‘mud puddle,’ refers to its preferred growing conditions in moist, sandy soils. This tree is particularly noted for its straight trunk that loses lower branches as it matures. Since it is an evergreen (it retains its needles all year long), it serves as a good screen and provides important winter cover and protected nesting sites for wildlife. Loblolly pines are the larval host to the Elfin butterfly.


Witch hazel – Hamamelis virginiana


Giveaway size: 1 gallon, 2-4 feet tall

Height: 15-20 feet | Spread: 10-15 feet | Light: full sun-full shade | Moisture: well-drained, moist

Witch hazel is a fall-blooming, deciduous shrub or small tree (often multi-trunked) that is native to woodlands, forest margins and stream banks in eastern North America. It is naturally found as an understory species growing near the forest floor and therefore prefers some shade. Witch hazel adds winter interest to landscaping. Its wide green leaves turn a brilliant orange-red-purple in the fall, followed by clusters of fragrant, yellow-orange flowers persisting for some time after leaf drop. Witch hazels are pollinated by winter moths. The fruits release small, black seeds explosively, sometimes hurling them 30 feet away from the parent tree. The aromatic extracts of leaves, twigs, and bark are commonly used as an astringent used to treat a variety of ailments. Historically, species of Hamamelis were used as divining rods to search for underground water sources.


American hornbeam- Carpinus caroliniana


Giveaway size: 1 gallon, 1-2 feet tall

Height: 20-35 feet |Spread: 20-35 feet |Light: Part shade-full shade | Moisture: well-drained, moist

American hornbeam is a slow-growing, medium-sized tree with distinctive muscle-like bark and attractive red-orange fall foliage. It is naturally found growing near the forest floor and therefore prefers some shade. It flourishes along stream banks and bottomlands and tolerates periodic flooding, though it shows remarkable adaptability to drier, sunnier sites. Other common names include blue beech, water beech, musclewood and ironwood. As the common name suggests, the extremely hard wood of this tree was once used to make bowls, tool handles and ox yokes. American hornbeam is the larval host for several native butterflies including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail as well as an important nesting site for the ruby-throated hummingbird.




Allegheny serviceberry – Amelanchier laevis


Giveaway size: 1 gallon, 2-3 feet tall

Height: 15-30 feet | Spread: 10-20 feet | Light: full sun-full shade | Moisture: moist-slightly dry

Allegheny serviceberry, also called Juneberry, Shadbush, and Saskatoon, is a small, often multi-trunked understory tree or tall shrub. It features showy white flowers in clusters in early spring before the leaves emerge. These blooms give way to delicious purple-red edible berries in June that resemble blueberries in size, color and taste. Berries can be eaten raw or used in jams and pies! If you don’t eat them, the birds certainly will. Serviceberries finish off the year with attractive yellow-orange leaf color. They prefer moist, acidic, well-drained loams and will tolerate a range of soil types but not drought. Serviceberries are medium to fast-growing but fairly short-lived tree. Note: serviceberries are susceptible to cedar apple rust (passed along by both cedar and apple trees), which does not generally harm the tree but renders the berries inedible.