There are so many things to love about a big, beautiful tree and its forever reaching branches. When fully grown, many trees show their full character, just like our loved ones. Sometimes, we see our kin the bark, leaves, trunk, and roots of a great oak or giant spruce, and when they pass, it feels only right that we should plant one in their honor.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Memorial Trees for a Hot Desert Climate
- Best Memorial Trees for a Humid, Mild Climate
- Best Memorial Trees for a Maritime Climate
- Best Memorial Trees for a Warm, Temperate Climate
- Best Memorial Trees for a Humid, Continental Climate
- Best Memorial Trees for an Oceanic Climate
See if you can match the personality of your loved one with the charisma of a tree. Some require more attention and care.
After you have made your decision, do a little research on soil and habitats to make sure your loved one’s memorial tree will live to grow tall in their memory.
COVID-19 tip: If you're planning at a virtual or live streamed tree planting ceremony or memorial service using a service like GatheringUs, you can still share the experience with your online guests. Coordinate with your planning team, make sure you have the right microphones and other audio equipment, and send online guests digital funeral programs with the full speaking schedule.
Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, closing accounts and other aspects of handling a loved one's unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Best Memorial Trees for a Hot Desert Climate
When choosing a tree to plant in remembrance of a family member in hot climates, remember to consider your soil. Some trees only do well in poor soil with a lot of drainage, while others require a bit more moisture.
1. Texas Mountain Laurel (Dermatophyllum secundiflorum)
For a tree that needs to fit into a smaller space and also be a showstopper, the Texas Mountain Laurel provides that profile.
It requires little pruning or maintenance, plus a hot, dry climate and poor soil to do well. The purple blossoms are like a mix of plumeria and lilac flowers. The Texas Mountain Laurel will suit those with unexpected personalities.
2. Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)
The Saguaro is a tree-like cactus species that can grow to 40 feet tall. Owls, flickers, hummingbirds, and other critters like to perch high on its flowering head or build nests inside its trunk.
This iconic southwestern cactus will continue to share its bounty for a few centuries as it can live over 200 years, making it one of the longest-living living memorials of all the trees mentioned here.
3. Purple Plum (Prunus cerasifera)
With an explosion of color every spring, the purple plum is sure to awaken a sense of joyousness with its delicate, pure beauty.
Unlike the two previous trees, the purple plum needs a lot of water. Not only that, as the dryness of the climate increases, so will its watering needs. It works for someone who was both humble and kind.
Best Memorial Trees for a Humid, Mild Climate
The trees listed here are low-maintenance, selfie-worthy, and shapely. Once they are mature, you’ll find yourself drawing them to practice your artistry.
4. Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simaruba)
If you are looking to memorialize your family member with a show stopper, then look no further. The Gumbo Limbo will not disappoint.
It’s sturdy enough to handle some salty coastal air, too, so go ahead and plant on your beachfront property. Just be prepared for lots of onlookers as its red bark draws the eyes. It will work for anyone who had an attractive, noticeable personality.
5. Red Mahogany (Khaya anthotheca)
Known to be strong, durable, and long-living, the Mahogany tree makes for an ideal memorial. An important note to consider is that under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the trade of Peruvian Mahogany is prohibited.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll come across one, staying in the know is important. As a memorial tree for a loved one, the tree would be perfect for that one-of-a-kind person.
6. Japanese Blueberry (Elaeocarpus decipiens)
Once you discover the Japanese Blueberry, you’ll probably want to plant a few more. Not only are they super low-maintenance, but they also produce delicious, edible fruit.
Plus, even if your thumb is a little less green and ambition a little low, you’ll find that this tree performs regardless.
Best Memorial Trees for a Maritime Climate
Whether you are looking to plant a tree in your backyard or set up a fund for reforestation somewhere else in the world, the three trees listed below offer unmatched beauty and strength.
7. Ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa)
When looking for a tree that may live up to 400 years, consider the Ponderosa Pine. If you plant one, you may attract a wide array of bird species, squirrels, and even beavers, which are keystone species.
As a memorial tree, you won’t be disappointed at its sheer size and durability given the right soil and environment.
8. Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
Pacific Dogwoods are small but ornate. Six full, flat petals form the flower which creates a brilliant display of color in any yard.
You’ll want to find a spot that allows for drainage and is mostly sunny so the tree can grow well. Notably, the tree does not do well in areas with flooding or places that often frost. So, it’s perfect for the person who loved the heat and disliked the rain.
9. Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana)
The Monkey Puzzle Tree is endangered and native to Chile and Argentina due to over-logging. So, if you are looking to help redevelop native populations of trees around the world, consider finding an organization that works on re-cultivating tree populations on behalf of your loved one.
Reforestation has been a courageous and feminine-backed movement for many years.
Best Memorial Trees for a Warm, Temperate Climate
We’ve chosen some of the most magnificent trees for this selection. If you have plenty of access to enough sun, they’ll flourish
10. Japanese Lilac Tree (Syringa Reticulata)
Some beautiful flowering plants take a tree form. You may not find the scent to be as potent or lovely, but it will bloom wonderfully.
Make sure to plant it in full sun to get the earliest summer blooms possible. As such, this tree most matches the kind of person who brought sunshine wherever they went.
11. Golden Raindrops Crabapple (Malus transitoria Golden Raindrops)
Golden Raindrops® is a deciduous tree that blooms white flowers in the spring and produces yellow leaves with ripe fruit in the fall.
The tree is very disease resistant, requires little maintenance, and because it only reaches 20 feet, it’s suitable near sidewalks and beneath powerlines. The tree works well for someone who was full of surprises because the berries are an unexpected gift.
12. American Redbud (Cercis siliquastrum)
This tree has a total wow factor. Redbuds make a perfect choice for your beloved because the bright purple-pink petals are heart-shaped.
Plant this tree in full sun, unless you live in a windy area. If you use loamy, sandy, moist soil that is slightly alkaline and clay, you’ll see flowering within four years. Plant it to make a statement about your lost loved one.
Best Memorial Trees for a Humid, Continental Climate
These trees are big, breathtaking beauties. Once fully grown, they will become the centerpiece to anyone’s lawn or yard.
13. Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)
The winged elm is a giant, breathtaking tree that can reach 40 feet high and spread its branches far and wide. This tree would suit the towering presence of a person who held firm but loved with their heart and soul.
14. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)
If you like pines with long, beautiful needles, you’ll enjoy the loblolly pine. While it may be nonflowering, this 90-foot tall tree will be a standout in any grand yard.
Generally, it is known as a timber tree, but as it matures more and more, you may find the perfect memorial bench to sit below your perfect memorial tree.
15. Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)
This tree will grow in water or on land, but they prefer to be right next to a fresh supply of water. Its trunk is full of beautiful texture, just like the lives of the most adventurous people. While the berries are delicious and edible, they are difficult to reach.
Best Memorial Trees for an Oceanic Climate
Oceanic Climate trees are gorgeous and mighty. Each one has a gift to give you in return, be it a fruit, smell, or beautiful visual.
16. Tropical Almond (Terminalia catappa)
Unexpectedly delicate looking, the tropical almond tree towers at 90 feet. When the fruit forms, you’ll be able to enjoy both the fruit and the nut, unlike some almond trees, where only the nut is edible.
According to legend, Phyllis—a Thracian Queen—expired from grief when her true love died fighting in the Trojan War. That grief, the legend says, was transformed into this tree, making it the perfect living memorial for a partner who desperately grieves the loss of their love.
17. Singapore Plumeria (Plumeria Obtusa)
If you’re looking for plumeria, then you’ll find no other smells better than the Singapore plumeria. Not only is this tree abundantly fragrant, but it is also the most formal looking.
Take care when planting the tree as it requires some patience and care during the rooting stage. It will work for any loved one who may have blossomed late in life.
18. Coastal Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus)
As flowering trees go, the coast hibiscus is one of the most beautiful and ornate. With its bright lemon yellow color, it is a standout in any garden. If your loved one personified this brilliant, vibrant nature, then the Hibiscus tree would fit their personality well.
Plant a Tree in Memory of Your Loved Ones
Planting a tree in memory of a loved one is a touching way to return their energy to the earth. Trees have exciting textures and personalities, much like the ones we love. Hopefully, you have discovered one that will match their strength, beauty, or courage.
If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.
Another way is by creating an online memorial page. An online memorial is a place where family and friends can write tributes and make a donation to a charity organization or funeral expenses. Cake makes it simple and free to create a beautiful online memorial page.
- “American Redbud Cercis Canadensis.” Arbor Day Foundation, 2020, www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/treedetail.cfm?itemID=912.
- Author Unknown. “Gumbo Limbo Tree.” Guide to Florida Landscape Plants for the Southern Half of the Sunshine State, 2020, www.south-florida-plant-guide.com/gumbo-limbo-tree.html.
- Author Unknown. “The Saguaro Cactus and Its Greedy Guests.” Kuriositas, 3 June 2018, www.kuriositas.com/2012/01/saguaro-cactus-and-its-greedy-guests.html.
- Beaulieu, David. “Learn All About the Gorgeous Japanese Lilac Tree.” The Spruce, 2 Jan. 2020, www.thespruce.com/japanese-lilac-tree-care-and-growing-guide-4589076.
- Clark, Joan. “17 Amazing Desert Trees That Love the Sun and Don't Mind the Heat.” Tips Bulletin, 22 Dec. 2019, www.tipsbulletin.com/desert-trees/.
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- Holmes, Russ. “U.S. Forest Service.” Forest Service Shield, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/cornus_nuttallii.shtml.
- Mafusire, Joseph. “SkyFruitSeed.com.” All About Sky Fruit Seed, 2020, skyfruitseed.com/important-facts-and-information-about-mahogany/.
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- “Plant Database.” Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin, 2020, www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ulal.
- “Plants Profile for Celtis Laevigata (Sugarberry).” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2020, plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CELA.
- “Plant Profile: Ponderosa Pine (Pinus Ponderosa).” Deschutes Land Trust, 11 Dec. 2015, www.deschuteslandtrust.org/news/blog/2012-blog-posts/plant-profile-ponderosa-pine-pinus-ponderosa.
- “Singapore (obtusa).” The Exotic Plumeria, www.exoticplumeria.com/plumeria-flowers/featured-plumeria/singapore-obtusa/.