Almost a third of Germany’s area is covered by forest. About ten tree species dominate, which make up about 90% of the entire forest area. More than 40 other tree species share the rest of the area among themselves.

Tree species in Germany

The German forest is known for its diverse tree species. A common subdivision is made into coniferous and deciduous trees as well as willow and fruit trees.

The conifers

Conifers are widespread in German forests. Below you will find different types of trees that are classified as conifers.

Douglasie (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

  • known as common Douglas fir
  • conifer native to Europe and North America
  • named after a Scottish plant collector
  • approx. 2% of the trees in Germany are Douglas firs
  • between 500 and 700 years old
  • up to 100 meters tall
  • Cones are up to 10 cm long and fall off in September
  • evergreen tree that grows fast
  • green to blue-green needles about four centimeters long

Eibe (Taxus)

  • occur as evergreen shrubs and trees
  • spiral arrangement of the needles on the branches of the yew
  • are mainly found in the northern hemisphere
  • grow in the shrub layer of a forest
  • numerous yew species, the only native species in Europe is the European yew

Spruce (Picea)

  • the Norway spruce (Picea abies) is the only native species in Central Europe
  • evergreen trees with a diameter of the trunk up to 2.5 meters
  • important supplier of the raw material wood
  • relatively undemanding in terms of the supply of nutrients
  • occurs mainly in monocultures
  • makes up almost a quarter of the forest area in Germany
  • becomes up to 600 years old
  • Height up to 50 meters
  • in winter the spruce loses its cones

Kiefer (Pinaceae)

  • many species of the genus are important sources of wood
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is particularly common in this country
  • accounts for almost a quarter of the German forest area
  • up to 600 years old
  • reaches a height of about 40 meters
  • after the seeds fly out, the cones fall off
  • evergreen trees, in rare cases these grow as shrubs

Larch (Larix)

  • occurs in northern primeval forests, also an economic plant
  • European larch (Larix decidua) is the most important species in Germany
  • is up to 600 years old and reaches a height of 50 meters
  • deciduous trees, one of two genera of pines that are not evergreen
  • European larch sheds its needles in winter
  • in autumn the larch leaves turn golden
  • there are between 10-20 larch species around the world

Tanne (Abies)

  • the fir genus belongs to the pine family
  • the most important species is the silver fir (Abies alba)
  • becomes up to 600 years old and 65 meters high
  • after the seeds are shed, the cones remain on the tree for many years
  • Inventory in Germany is continuously decreasing
  • fast-growing conifers

Juniper (Juniperus)

  • Genus with 50 – 70 different species
  • the common juniper (Juniperus communis) is represented in Europe
  • small tree that grows upright
  • grows up to a maximum of 18.5 meters high, regularly about 12 meters high
  • becomes up to 600 years old
  • needle-shaped leaves
  • yellow flowers in bloom between April and June
  • Development of the cones takes three years
  • Common juniper is the conifer that is most widespread with its subspecies

Zirbe (Pinus cembra)

  • known as Arve, Arbe, or Zirbel
  • Species of the pine family
  • feel comfortable in the Alps, prefer heights between 1500 and 2000 meters
  • frost-hardy tree species that easily withstands minus temperatures
  • Stone pine grows up to 25 meters high
  • can reach an age of 1000 years
  • aromatic fragrant wood suitable for the production of furniture
  • flexible needles that are up to 11 centimeters long

The deciduous trees

There are other tree species in the area of ​​native deciduous trees. In contrast to the conifers, these are so-called flowering plants.

Maple (Acer)

  • Plant genus with 100-200 species
  • spread all over the world, versatile use of maple trees
  • in Germany the sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) is widespread
  • prefers to grow in mountainous regions
  • is up to 500 years old and reaches a height of 30 meters
  • Maple tree fruits have a propeller shape
  • effective spreading through the fruit
  • Wood is used in the production of furniture

Birke (Betula)

  • deciduous trees that shed their leaves in autumn
  • fast-growing shrubs
  • reach heights of seven meters after a few years, later even up to 30 meters
  • live up to 160 years
  • conspicuous bark that is smooth at first and later loosens
  • Birch buds are important food for birds in winter
  • These are pioneer plants with a high level of adaptability
  • low demands on climate and soil conditions

Beech (Fagus sylvatica)

  • known as the common beech, which is the only local beech species
  • native to large parts of Europe
  • deciduous tree with a trunk diameter of up to two meters
  • makes up more than 15% of the forests in Germany, making it the most common deciduous tree
  • The name comes from the reddish color of the wood
  • becomes up to 300 years old and 45 meters high
  • The fruits of the beech are the beechnuts
  • Ripening time of the nuts in autumn
  • shiny and smooth bark

Oak (Quercus)

  • Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) is known as German oak
  • most widespread oak species in Central Europe
  • adaptable deciduous tree
  • Acorns are not edible for humans, but are an important food source for birds and animals
  • become up to 1000 years old and 40 meters tall
  • make up 10% of the German forests
  • Acorns ripen in autumn

Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

  • deciduous tree native to Europe
  • grows up to 40 meters high
  • Beech is strong competition for the common ash
  • the wood of the ash is a so-called precious wood
  • is one of the most important timbers in Europe
  • young trees have green bark, after 15 years corking begins
  • Pollination of the ash is done by wind
  • Flowering begins in March/April before the leaves appear

Hainbuche (Carpinus)

  • deciduous trees belonging to the birch family
  • occur in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere
  • only the common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is native to Central Europe
  • deciduous tree up to 25 meters tall
  • becomes up to 150 years old
  • grows vigorously on nutrient-rich soil
  • resistant to heat and cold

Hasel (Corylus avellana)

  • known as common hazel
  • in most cases the plant occurs as a shrub
  • in rare cases, a small tree up to 10 meters tall
  • Native to Europe and Asia Minor
  • known for the edible hazelnuts
  • prefers summer-warm locations

Chestnut (Castanea)

  • in Europe, the sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is the only chestnut species
  • Fruits known as chestnuts or chestnuts
  • grows up to 35 meters high
  • Trees can reach an age of 600 years, in western Europe even up to 1000 years
  • powerful root system, intensively branching in the ground
  • heat-loving tree species that prefers loose soil
  • several hundred varieties distributed
  • golden-brown wood with a weak grain

Linde (Tilia)

  • Genus of plants with deciduous trees
  • depending on the species, a height of 15 to 40 meters
  • Trunk diameter ranges from one to 1.8 meters
  • 20-45 different species around the world
  • in Europe small-leaved, small-leaved and silver linden occur

Robinie (Robinia pseudoacacia)

  • known as black locust
  • there is often confusion about the name: many people mistakenly call the robinia acacia
  • Tree of the Year 2020 in Germany
  • deciduous tree
  • Native to Europe for over 400 years
  • can grow up to 30 meters tall with a trunk diameter of one meter
  • Seeds are spread by wind
  • relatively undemanding in terms of soil and climate
  • Targeted cultivation of robinia for the purpose of economic wood use

Schwarzerle (Alnus glutinosa)

  • medium sized deciduous tree
  • well-known names are Eller or Else
  • Distribution throughout Europe
  • can live up to 120 years
  • often cannot assert itself against the competition
  • occurs in wet and swampy areas
  • grows up to 30-40 meters tall
  • Flowering begins at the age of 10 years
  • Greenish and shiny bark that turns dark gray to black over time
  • Roots go deep into the soil, the majority are vertical roots

Stechpalme (Ilex aquifolium)

  • known as European holly, common holly or pod
  • only species of the holly genus that occurs in Central Europe
  • grows as an evergreen shrub or small tree
  • reaches a height of up to 15 meters
  • Twigs become bare with age
  • dark green leaves that are relatively thick
  • Flowering period from May to June
  • Fruits ripen from October, edible for birds after several frosts


  • Genus is also known by the names Rusten and Effe
  • a total of over 40 tree species of the elm genus
  • three species occur in Europe: white elm, wych elm and field elm
  • grow in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere
  • deciduous trees or shrubs that shed their leaves in autumn
  • reach a size of up to 35 meters
  • young leaves are edible for humans
  • Dutch elm disease is reducing the population
  • relevant to the timber industry

The willows

The genus of willows includes about 450 different species. Most of these plants are common in the temperate northern zone.

White-legged Weide (Salix appendiculata)

  • known as mountain willow or ravine willow
  • occurs in Central and Eastern Europe
  • grows up to six meters tall
  • Occurs as a shrub and tree
  • Branches pronounced with indistinct stripes
  • Bark of young trees hairy, later bare
  • is one of the rarely used tree species in Germany

Lavendel-Weide (Salix eleagnos)

  • mainly grows in the mountains of central and southern Europe
  • prefers alternating wet and dry soils
  • occurs as a tree or shrub
  • Height up to 20 meters
  • Leaves up to 12 centimeters high
  • three to five centimeters

Laurel Willow (Salix pentandra)

  • occurs in Eurasia: Central Europe, Eastern Europe to the Caucasus
  • prefers to grow near rivers
  • grows up to 15 meters tall
  • deciduous tree, rarely a shrub
  • Flowering period from June to July
  • Laurel willow flowers last of the willow species of the Alps
  • glossy fruit is less than a centimeter in size and ripens in late summer

Poplar (Populus)

  • Genus of plants found in temperate regions
  • belongs to the willow family
  • important for the production of wood and paper
  • deciduous trees that grow up to 45 meters high
  • erect stem and leaves of various shapes (triangular, ovoid and heart-shaped)
  • Flowering time between February and April
  • very fast growing shrub

Willow willow (Salix daphnoides)

  • occurs throughout Europe, prefers to grow in mountains
  • popular as a medicinal plant: the bark contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents
  • grows up to 15 meters tall
  • gray bark with faint cracks
  • Bark red in the first few years, later turning white
  • Leaves are 4-10 centimeters in size
  • the leaves are hairy when young, later glabrous
  • The fruit ripens between May and July

White willow (Salix alba)

  • widespread throughout Europe to Central Asia (exception: Scandinavian countries)
  • occurs in middle mountain ranges
  • heat-loving tree species
  • different tree species
  • Flowering time between April and May
  • silvery leaves are the namesake of the silver willow

The fruit trees

The term fruit tree does not come from botany. As a colloquial term, the fruit tree includes all tree species that bear fruit that is edible for humans.

Apple tree (Malus domestica)

  • known as a cultivated apple
  • economically one of the most important fruit species
  • Apple trees function for obtaining food and for ornament
  • deciduous tree up to 15 meters high
  • spreading treetop
  • Flowering begins in May
  • after the harvest, the apples continue to ripen
  • winter-bare deciduous tree originally from Asia

Aprikosenbaum (Prunus armeniaca)

  • known as apricot
  • occurs as a shrub or small tree
  • usually up to six meters high
  • bare bark
  • Drupe grows up to eight centimeters tall and is round
  • Harvest from July to August

Birnbaum (Pyrus communis)

  • known as a culture pear
  • belongs to the pome fruit family
  • deciduous tree that can grow up to 20 meters high
  • live between 70 and 200 years
  • prefer nutrient-rich soils
  • Flowering time is between April and May
  • Fruits are between five and 15 centimeters in size
  • juicy-sweet taste when ripe between July and October

Eberesche (Sorbus aucuparia)

  • known as rowan berries
  • belongs to the pome fruit family
  • diverse human uses
  • Fruits are non-toxic and very digestible after cooking
  • Rowanberries are between 80 and 120 years old
  • rapid growth in the first twenty years
  • grows up to 15 meters tall
  • Fruits are ripe between August and September
  • European fruit species

Kirschbaum (Prunus avium/Prunus cerasus)

  • known species are the wild cherry and sour cherry
  • use as a fruit tree
  • Occurs as a shrub, bush and tree
  • between 1-10 meters tall
  • Fruits up to two centimeters in size
  • Cherry fruits light to black-red
  • Flowering from April to May
  • Occurrence throughout the northern hemisphere
  • annual harvest in Germany over 18,000 tons

Cultivated plum (Prunus domestica)

  • occurs as a shrub or tree
  • Growth height between six and ten meters
  • smooth and grey-brown bark
  • Flowering time between April and May
  • Fruits vary in size, color, and flavor depending on the variety
  • Plums between 1-8 centimeters tall
  • the majority of the plum harvest in Germany comes from Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Plum wood is heavily used for timber construction

Black elder (Sambucus nigra)

  • known as Holder or Holler
  • occurs as a shrub or small tree
  • Flowering time between May and July
  • fresh and fruity scent of the elder tree is unique
  • The berries ripen between August and September
  • Black elderberries are rich in potassium and vitamin C
  • is one of the most common shrub and tree species in Central Europe
  • robust and undemanding plant

Quitte (Cydonia oblonga)

  • cultivated as a fruit tree
  • originally from the eastern Caucasus, widespread in Central Europe since the 9th century
  • Commercial cultivation comparatively rare in Germany
  • occurs as a shrub or small tree
  • deciduous with leaves between 0.8 and 1.5 centimeters
  • Flowering time between May and June
  • Harvest in late autumn between October and November
  • Quince contains potash, sodium, vitamin C and many other nutrients

frequently asked Questions

The forest fulfills different functions with its trees. On the one hand, the forest is an important supplier of raw materials, especially wood. On the other hand, the trees filter the air, protect against noise and provide a home for animals and plants.

The spruce is the most widespread tree in Germany. This makes up about a quarter of the local forest area. Pine, copper beech and oak follow in the next places.

Deciduous trees are so-called flowering plants in which insects are responsible for pollination. The conifers are nudibranchs, so the wind is responsible for pollination. As a rule, deciduous trees prefer nutrient-rich soils, while conifers place few demands on their location. On average, conifers require less water.

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