Great Medium Sized Trees for Las Vegas


A medium-sized tree, something that grows between 20’ and 40’ high, can be the perfect solution for casting cooling shade over a two-story house and a large lot, assuming that it’s been properly placed. It should be 20’ or more from the home, walls or other structures, as well as from you property line. You should also know that if a tree on your lot is hanging over your neighbors’ home or yard, they have the right to cut it off, and if its roots or branches do any damage to their property, you will normally be held liable.

If you need something smaller, take a look at this post to see a list of trees that’ll only grow to about 20’ high and do beautifully in the low desert.


Now, let’s check out some great medium sized trees that will grow exceptionally well in Las Vegas!

goldenrain tree, koelrutia paniculata

Goldenrain Tree
Koelrutia paniculata
30’H x 30’W

Goldenrain trees offer visual interest and shade from spring through fall, thanks to vibrant red new growth, pendulous yellow flowers and delicate seedpods that resemble heart-shaped Chinese lanterns. Leaves turn bright green with age to provide a pretty backdrop for the flowers, which come out in early-to-mid-summer. Goldenrain trees require moderate to regular water depending on their location and are best planted from fall through early spring, in order to get them established before the summer heat.










red push pistache, pistacia

Red Push Pistache

Pistacia x ‘Red Push’
30’H x 20’W

With fall color that ranges from brilliant yellow to flaming orange and red, the Red Push pistache is a popular choice for those who’ve moved to Vegas and miss traditional autumn displays. This moderate grower can use more water than most of the other trees here, but it also provides a nice canopy of dense shade. While pistacia trees are often a little straggly in their youth, they tend to fill out nicely in fairly short order, leading to their designation as the “Ugly Duckling” of trees.






bottle tree, brachychiton

Bottle Tree
Brachychiton populneus
30’H x 20’W

Bottle trees are Australian natives that thrive in our Valley, given the right circumstances. They require deep, infrequent water and good drainage in order to develop a deep taproot and avoid root rot from a soggy base. The combined characteristics of moderate-to-fast growth, an evergreen canopy and being relatively neat have led to prevalent use of bottle trees throughout Las Vegas, despite the fact that they can be damaged by our lowest temperatures.






chilean mesquite, prosopsis

Chilean Mesquite
Prosopsis chilensis
30’H x 30’W

While there are other mesquites that are actually native to the Mojave Desert, the Chilean mesquite is probably the most commonly planted in Las Vegas. It’s broad, thornless canopy can offer filtered shade to a larger area than most trees. Chileans are fast-growing and very drought-tolerant once established, so they make a nice choice for a desert garden or any area where you want a tree that doesn’t need to be babied. It should be noted that the leaf drop, flowers and seedpods of mesquites can produce a bit of a mess throughout the year.




african sumac

African Sumac
Rhus lancea
30’H x 30’W

African sumacs are another attractive, water-smart shade tree for the desert with a reputation for creating a lot of litter. They’re moderate-to-fast growers that are forgiving of poor soil and high heat, but they may drop their leaves in a hard frost. Small red and yellow berries follow inconspicuous flowers that come out in the early spring and the trees will generally slough off leaves in the early summer in order to make room for new growth.






Burgundy Lace Desert Willow

Desert Willow
Chilopsis linearis
25’H x 20’W

Desert willows bloom profusely all summer long and there are a variety of colors to choose from. While the burgundy lace desert willow, with its dark purple flowers, is the most readily available, you can also find pink, white and lavender varieties that perform just as well in Las Vegas. You can count on the desert willows to draw hummingbirds and they’ll allow enough light through their leaves for other plants to grow nicely, making them perfect for flower gardens.




pink dawn chitalpa

Pink Dawn Chitalpa
x Chitalpa tashkentensis
25’H x 25’W

For light shade and pretty pink flowers from spring through fall, it’s hard to beat the pink dawn chitalpa. These trees grow quickly and require little maintenance other than an occasional cleanup of the spent blooms and the long, thin seedpods that follow. Chitalpas are a hybrid of Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis, both of which are fantastic desert trees with low water needs and the ability to withstand extreme heat and alkaline soil, so pink dawn chitalpas make a great choice for those looking for both beauty and durability.



cercidium floridum, blue palo verde
Image courtesy of Stan Shebs via Wikimedia Commons

Blue Palo Verde
Cercidium floridum
35’H x 30’W

With bluish-green leaves and branches, the blue palo verde is a distinctive desert tree that’s hard to miss. Its cheery yellow flowers generally show up earlier in the spring than those of the other palo verdes, but they’re also less likely to rebloom in the summer than the smaller Desert Museum palo verde. Both drought-tolerant and fast-growing, blue palo verdes work well in any place where a big tree is needed quickly.



Image courtesy of Bryant Olsen via Flickr

Western Hackberry
Celtis reticulate or
25’H x 25’W

Western hackberry trees are native to the Western U.S., making them a natural choice for our valley. They’re related to elms, but hackberries tend to be smaller and more deep-rooted than their better-known relatives, so they’re much better-suited to the small lots that are common to Las Vegas. Western hackberries have broad, sprawling canopies that are often as wide as the tree is tall and they feature orangey-red berries in autumn, providing visual interest and an attractant to wildlife.



Image courtesy of Bri Weldon via Flickr
Image courtesy of Bri Weldon via Flickr

Chinese Hackberry
Celtis sinensis
40’H x 40’W

Chinese hackberries are larger than Western hackberries and have a more rounded canopy than their smaller counterpart, with glossier leaves that leaf out in the mid-spring. The trees provide shade throughout the summer months and are a natural habitat for plenty of different birds, making them a fantastic choice for those hoping to attract wildlife to their garden,

If you’re unsure of whether you should plant a tree that’s evergreen or deciduous, check out this quick rundown of the benefits and drawbacks of both.




  • Hello,
    Thank you for creating your website!

    I’m hoping you can help me to identify a tree I saw in Red Rock Preserve. It looked like a cedar tree, except the bark was of a lighter color- almost white. Any idea what this could be called?
    Thanks for your help,

    • Hi there, I’m sorry for the late response. I’m not sure what kind of tree you saw out there but it might be a singleleaf pinion (Pinus monophylla). Their bark is kind of a greyish white and they could resemble a cedar? If you have a pic, that would be awesome but if not, let me know about how big the trees were that you saw and approximately where you saw them. That might trigger something in my brain 🙂

  • I hope you’ll recommend only native plants. Natives solve almost all landscaping needs, while also creating the food that our desert animals and birds can’t survive without. Thanks for what you’re doing.

    • Thank you! I love our natives too and would love to see them used more as landscape plants. The big issue I find is that many growers simply aren’t growing them due to a lack of demand. I’m working on creating that demand every day, my friend. Every single day. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • I need a tree thats perfect for shade but has a low amount of litter because I want it near my pool. I also have dogs and torts to consider as some plants/trees are dangerous for them to ingest. Any ideas?

    • Hi Julia, check out mastic trees or red push pistache for shade that’s okay near a pool. Neither are toxic to pets either 🙂

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