Deciduous trees and shrubs with inconspicuous flowers

Acer - Maples

Acer is a large genus of close to 130 species in the family Sapindaceae. The genus has the widest distribution in Asia, but is also found in other regions of the northern hemisphere. One of the distinctive characteristics of the genus are winged seeds which come in pairs, and palmate leaves. The genus is renowned for spectacular fall colour. 


Alnus - Alder

Alnus is a genus of around 30 species in the family Betulaceae with a wide distribution around the northern hemisphere. They resemble birches, but have larger leaves and the female catkins are woody and resemble small cones. Alders are nitrogen fixing and have been used as pioneer plants in Iceland. Their native habitats are usually moist soils along streams and lakes.


  • Alnus sinuata

Betula - Birches

Betula is a genus of around 30-60 species in the family Betualaceae. They are short-lived for trees, B. pubescens, which is native to Iceland, typically reaches an age of a 100 years. Birches are pioneer plants and need plenty of sunlight, but are very adaptable to different soil conditions. The bark peels in thin, papery sections which is distinctive for the genus. 


  • Betula ermanii

  • Betula pubescens

Buxus - Box

Buxus is a genus of around 70 species in the Buxaceae family, most of which are native to tropical regions. They are evergreen trees or shrubs, with small, leathery leaves. The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous. Only one species is hardy enough to be grown in Iceland and it needs sheltered and sunny conditions. Box is popular for use in topiary as it has small leaves and dense growth habit. 


  • Buxus sempervirens

Cercidiphyllum - Katsura

The genus Cercidiphyllum only counts two species and is the only genus in the family Cercidiphyllaceae. The two species are native to Japan and China. They are dioecious, i.e. there are separate male and female plants. The flowers are wind pollinated. They need fertile, evenly moist soil. 

Elaeagnus - Silverberry

Elaeagnus is a genus of roughly 50 species in the family Elaeagnaceae, all of which are native to Asia, apart from one that is native to western N-America. They have silvery leaves and very small flowers, without petals, which are often fragrant. Many species are nitrogen fixing and can grow in poor soils. 


Fagus - Beeches

The genus Fagus belongs to the family Fagaceae and includes around 10 species native to temperate regions in Europe, Asia and N-America. Beeches grow in variable conditions, but can not tolerate very wet soil. 


Fraxinus - Ash

Fraxinus is a genus of around 60 species in the family Oleaceae widely distributed around the northern hemisphere. They have conspicuous black leaf buds and pinnately, compund, shiny leaves. They need deep, fertile soil and plenty of moisture.  


  • Fraxinus excelsior

Hedera - Ivy

Hedera is a genus in the family Araliaceae. The genus includes 12-15 species native to N-Africa, S- and Central-Europe and Asia. They are shade tolerant plants that can climb trees and cliffs up to a height of 30 m, using aerial roots . Where they flower, their greenish yellow flowers in autumn or early winter are an important food source for insects and birds. The fruits ripen in late winter or spring. They are strictly a foliage plant in Iceland.

  • Hedera colchica

    • 'Sulfur Heart'​

    • 'Variegata'

  • Hedera helix - bergflétta

Hippophae - Sea buckthorn

Hippophae is a small genus in the family Eleagnaceae, distributed around Europe and Asia. They are dioecious, so both male and female plants are needed for fruit production. The flowers are small, but the berries are more conspicuous, yellow or orange, with a very high vitamin-C content. 


Nothofagus - Southern beeches

Nothofagus is a genus of 65 species formerly grouped in the beech family, but have now been moved to their own family, Nothofagaceae. It is native to the southern hemisphere, where it's species grow at high altitudes in the southernmost parts of S-America and Australia. The leaves resemble beech leaves, but are much smaller. 


Populus - Aspen, Poplars, Cottonwoods

Populus is a genus of around 30 species in the Salicaceae family, widely distributed around the northern hemisphere. 


  • Populus trichocarpa

  • Populus tremula

Quercus - Oaks

Quercus​​​ is a genus in the Fagaceae family. It is a very large genus of around 600 species widely distributed around the northern hemisphere from temperate regions to the tropics. The seeds are called acorns and are distinctive for the genus. Oaks are important crop plants and the wood is widely used for a variety of products. 


Salix - Willows

There are around 400 species that belong to the genus Salix in the family Salicaceae. Willow species are dioecious, with plants either bearing female or male flowers, called catkins. They flower in early spring, often before leafing out and are an important food source for bees. Many species grow in moist soil and the distribution area of the genus are cold and temperate regions in the northern hemisphere. The bark contains salicylic acid which has both pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Willow bark was therefore used in herbal remedies where it grows wild.