Increasingly governments and the private sector are using planted forests to offset carbon emissions. Few studies, however, examine how tree diversity-defined here as species richness and/or stand composition-affects carbon storage in these plantings. Using aboveground tree biomass as a proxy for carbon storage, we used meta-analysis to compare carbon storage in tree mixtures with monoculture plantings. Tree mixes stored at least as much carbon as monocultures consisting of the mixture's most productive species and at times outperformed monoculture plantings. In mixed-species stands, individual species, and in particular nitrogen-fixing trees, increased stand biomass. Further motivations for incorporating tree richness into planted forests include the contribution of diversity to total forest carbon-pool development, carbon-pool stability and the provision of extra ecosystem services. Our findings suggest a two-pronged strategy for designing carbon plantings including: (1) increased tree species richness; and (2) the addition of species that contribute to carbon storage and other target functions. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved .