A large number of tree species have been adopted for amenity plantings in different parts of the tropics. Whereas some are well- known and widely adopted, many potentially worthwhile ones remain unpopular and obscure. The lack of systematic species evaluations, a common procedure in developed countries, is a major bottleneck to objective tree-selection decisions in the tropics. A comprehensive tree survey in urban Hong Kong provides the necessary tree-performance information to judge the relative suitability of species under different environmental conditions. A review of the literature on tropical amenity trees provides valuable supplementary information. The methods used to assess 60 selected species are described. An account is given of a range of compatible species to provide a diversity of subjects in the urban landscape. A number of tree attributes, including final height and spread, growth rate, desirable and undesirable traits, environmental tolerance and suitable habitats are rated according to semi-quantitative or nominal classifications. The results hopefully can be extrapolated to other humid-tropical cities and evoke similar studies in neighbouring areas. Copyright © 1990 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.