Which Trees Absorb the Most Carbon and Why?

Sustainable Forestry
October 11, 2021
Avely Pütsep

Forests are an essential part of mitigating rapid climate change. It’s more important than ever to keep intact ecosystems protected.

One of the main ways forests halt climate change is by absorbing and storing carbon.

In this post you’ll learn:

🌿 Which features make a tree good at absorbing carbon

🌿 Examples of specific trees that absorb a lot of carbon

We also have other interesting posts: Why We Need to Protect The Forests We Have Left and How Much CO2 Does Your Forest Absorb?

What makes a tree a good carbon absorber?

How much carbon a tree can hold depends on how well it sequesters carbon.

They sequester (read: capture and store) carbon in trunks, branches, leaves, and roots. Everything you see on a tree has carbon in it.

It is known however that trees with large trunks and dense wood tend to be the best absorbers, large leaves and wide crowns help too.

Other features that help a tree absorb carbon include:

  • Being fast-growing: most sources say trees store most carbon during their first decades
  • Being native species: this helps them thrive in the soil
  • Being low-maintenance: they won’t need fertilizers and other chemicals

Fortunately, there are many trees like that.

Now to the question: which trees absorb the most carbon?

There’s no universal answer to this and no single tree that’s best at it. Pines, oaks, and mangroves are known to absorb a lot of carbon, though.

Are mangroves the best carbon absorbers?

Mangroves may just be the best trees when it comes to fighting climate change.

Their benefits include:

  • Storing massive amounts of carbon in trees and surrounding soil
  • Reducing flooding and erosion from storms
  • Acting as nurseries for fish
  • Filtering pollutants from water

Pine trees as carbon sinks

There are quite a lot of pines known for their ability to sequester carbon.

  • The red Ponderosa
  • The white Ponderosa
  • Hispaniolan pines

These trees are found in forests around the world, but they also make good landscape plants. Just be sure to give them enough room, because they need plenty of it.

Evergreen trees make good carbon absorbers

While pines are dominating the carbon sequestering game, there are many other evergreen trees doing a good job, too.

Two examples are:

  • The tall Douglas firs
  • The bald cypress

The tall Douglas firs are popular Christmas trees, and both trees are popular in landscaping.

Oaks sequester loads of carbon

Why are oaks good carbon absorbers? Because of their large canopies and dense wood.

  • Scarlet oak
  • Red oak
  • Virginia live oak

Scarlet and red oak are both known as landscaping trees, Virginia live oak is mostly found in plant stores.

Other deciduous trees absorb carbon, too

Even though oak is known as the deciduous tree absorbing the most carbon, other deciduous trees do a good job as well.

To name just a few:

  • The common horse-chestnut
  • The black walnut
  • The American sweetgum

Other examples of trees that are good carbon absorbers

Our research also led us to many other trees, some of them are:

The Teak Tree, which has the highest carbon sequestration capacity of trees in India.

The Yellow Poplar, which can grow under rough conditions.

The Silver Maple has a very high absorption capability.

The Red Mulberry absorbs carbon and gives seasonal fruit

The London Plane is very popular in urban planning and is very tolerant to pollution, cold, and disease.

The Dogwood is a good example of a smaller tree absorbing carbon well.


Want to learn more? Read 6 Reasons to Manage Your Forest Sustainably with Single.Earth And Make Money From Saving The Planet.

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