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Genus: Acer

Species: rubrum

Family: Aceraceae

Common Name: red maple

Leaf: Opposite, simple; 3-5 lobed; Notches between leaf lobes shallow; Base of terminal lobe wide; Medium to dark green above; Whitened and hairless or hairy veins beneath; Leaves vary greatly in lobing and coarseness of teeth. More sharply serrate than Acer rubrum. Often has red petioles.

Bud: Imbricate, reddish to green, blunt with several scales (1/16 to 1/8"). Fleshy and soft, contrast with Acer saccharum.

Twig: Glabrous, lenticelled, green-red-brown; Usually green, becoming red as winter progresses. No odor or flavor.

Bark: Smooth gray young trunk bark, broken darker older bark, scaly and /or ridged and furrowed. Smoother and grayer than Acer saccharum.

Fruit: Samara, reddish (May-July) Note: If it has fruit on it in Autumn, it is NOT Acer rubrum.

Flower: Red in short clusters (March-May)

Habit: Med. sized tree (20-60); Often pyramidal or elliptical in youth, developing ascending branches which result in an irregular rounded crown later

Fall Color: Scarlet to orange

Eco/Notes: Excellent tree aesthetically for lawn, park, or street, but will not tolerate heavy pollution, mechanical damage, soil compaction or high pH. Not good for heavy traffic areas and where it is likely to be subject to mower or other mechanical damage.

Key ID Feature(s): buds, bark


Genus: Elaeagnus

Species: spp.

Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster family)

Common Name: autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Oleaster (Elaeagnus angustifolia).

Leaf: Alternate, simple; elliptic to ovate-oblong, 2-4" long; Crisped margin; Usually silvery scales above when young, bright green above at maturity; Silvery beneath and usually mixed with brown scales.

Bud: brown, ovoid, 3-4 mm few scales, sometimes looks valvate.

Twig: Silver-brown with many brownish scales = speckled appearance; Spines may be present.

Bark: silvery, turning brown.

Fruit: Berry-like, globose, reddish when mature, juicy (Sept-Oct). Borne in great numbers on short stalks and appear to almost encircle stem

Flower: " long, funnel-shaped, silvery white, fragrant (May-June).

Habit: Shrub or small tree; Spreading, often spiny-branched

Fall Color: none.

Eco/Notes: Not in olive family (note hyphenation). Non-native but naturalized. Sometimes planted for erosion control and ornament; Most have nitrogen-fixing root nodules which assure survival in inhospitable soils; Can become a noxious weed. It considered an invasive in many areas. Often visible along freeway cuts.

Key ID Feature(s): metallic twig, leaves, habit

Genus: Fraxinus

Species: pennsylvanica

Family: Oleaceae

Common Name: green ash

Leaf: Opposite, pinnately compound, up to 12" long, 5-9 leaflets, ovate to oblong, acuminate, lustrous medium to dark green and essentially glabrous above, light green and pubescent beneath.

Bud: Dark rusty brown, set above leaf scar, leaf scar most often nearly straight across at the top.

Twig: Rounded, rather stout; Densely velvety downy or glabrous.

Bark: Similar to White Ash, but not as clearly and sharply diamond pattern.

Fruit: Samara (1-2" long)

Flower: April

Habit: 50-60 in height, half that in spread; Irregular crown when mature.

Fall Color: Yellow, early.

Eco/Notes: Over planted due to adaptability. Can cross with F. americana. Look for F. pennsylvanica Northwest of Animal Science bldg.

Key ID Feature(s): bark, leaf scar. Very difficult to distinguish from Fraxinus americana.


Genus: Ilex

Species: verticillata

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Common Name: winterberry

Leaf: Alternate, simple, elliptic or obovate; Dull dark green above, with distinct coarse teeth, 2-4", pubescent beneath along veins.

Bud: Imbricate, very small 2mm or less, globose; Blunt with broadly pointed scales. Need hand lens to see.

Twig: Slender, angled, olive-brown to purplish-brown, glabrous to finely pubescent, scattered light, raised lenticels, buds and leaf scars are small, one vascular bundle scar, tiny, black thorn-like stipules may be present on either side of the leaf scar.

Bark: Dark gray to dark brown or black on older stems.

Fruit: Drupe, red (Sept-Oct), persists after leaf drop. Can have very bright fruit.

Flower: June-Aug

Habit: Small to large shrub, (6-15 in height); Dense complement of fine twiggy branches; tends to sucker to form multi-stemmed clumps.

Fall Color: Nothing significant, occasionally yellow/purple tinge.

Eco/Notes: Found in swamps, wet woods, and sandy stream margins.

Key ID Feature(s): twig, wet location, not much else. This is a tricky one.


Genus: Prunus

Species: virginiana

Family: Rosaceae

Common Name: chokecherry

Leaf: Alternate, simple, broad-elliptic, sharp-toothed leaves with hairless midribs (2-5"); Dark green above, grayish green beneath; Glabrous.

Bud: Bud scales rounded at tips

Twig: Slender

Bark: Gray-brown, smooth

Fruit: Purplish (July-Oct), round

Flower: White (April-July)

Habit: A suckering tall shrub or small tree (6-20).

Fall Color: yellow, maroon

Eco/Notes: Similar to black cherry, but smaller; Common name refers to astringent (tart) fruit; Edible.

Key ID Feature(s): leaf, habit, wet location


Genus: Quercus

Species: bicolor

Family: Fagaceae

Common Name: swamp white oak

Leaf: Alternate, simple, oblong to obovate Irregular wavy and slightly lobed margin; Broadly obovate; Pubescent underside; Lustrous dark green above, whitish green beneath. White Oak Group (note end of lobes blunt).

Bud: Imbricate, broadly ovate; Chestnut brown, small (1/8 " long), blunt, hairless.

Twig: Stout to slender; Yellowish or reddish brown; Hairless

Bark: Light gray, ridged or flaky; Deep longitudinal fissures.

Fruit: Acorn, long (1"), usually paired, light brown; Acorn cup bowl-shaped, covers 1/3 of fruit. Acorn singly or in pairs, on a peduncle 1" or so (Q. alba acorns not on peduncle)

Flower: most oak flowers are about the same

Habit: 60-70; Broad, open round-topped crown and short, limby trunk. Often retains lower branches. This is a characteristic of wetland area plants because fire is much less frequent.

Fall Color: Yellow-Bronze.

Eco/Notes: Bottomland species; Associated with Pin Oak; Name (bicolor) refers to green upper and white pubescent under surface of leaves; Lumber not distinguished from White Oak. Requires acidic soil. Exists in areas that are wet in spring but drier later in the year. Is facultative and will grow in mesic and drier areas. Develops a dual layer root system. Uses upper roots in spring and switches to lower roots in summer. Good landscape tree.

Key ID Feature(s): Leaves - dig around on ground for fallen leaves, use your hand lens to see fine pubescence that causes white color on bottom of leaf. Also acorn on peduncle, habit, bark.


Genus: Quercus

Species: palustris

Family: Fagaceae

Common Name: pin oak

Leaf: Alternate, simple, elliptic or oblong, 3-6" long, 5-7 U-shaped lobes; lustrous dark green above, lighter green beneath with axillary tufts of hair. Red Oak Group (note spines at end of lobes).

Bud: Imbricate, conical to ovate, sharp-pointed 1/8 to " long, gray-brown to chestnut-brown, hairless

Twig: Slender in first year, greenish to brown; Often greenish in second to third year; Hairless

Bark: Grayish brown, thinnish, smooth, and develops narrow, relatively shallow ridges and furrows with age.

Fruit: Acorn nut, solitary or clustered, light brown, often striate; Shallow, saucer-like cap, brown, hairless. Small compared to most other Quercus.


Habit: 60-70 high; Strongly pyramidal, usually with a central leader. Lower branches characteristically point downward, middle branches horizontal, and upper branches ascending; "Jumping-Jack" habit. Many stubby, pin-like branches usually present. Lower branches retained like Q. bicolor but many more.

Fall Color: Russet, bronze or red

Eco/Notes: Found on wet clay flats where water may stand for several weeks; Actually prefers well drained soil. Most widely used native oak for landscaping.

Key ID Feature(s): habit, branches


Genus: Rhus

Species: glabra

Family: Anacardiaceae

Common Name: smooth sumac

Leaf: Alternate, compound pinnate, 12-18" long, 11-31 leaflets, serrate, acuminate; Medium to deep green.

Bud: Pubescent, round, ovoid, with leaf scar almost completely encircling bud.

Twig: Very Stout (thick), glabrous, green to reddish and covered with a waxy bloom, somewhat flat-sided or 3-sided; Leaf scar horseshoe-shaped.

Bark: brown smooth

Fruit: Scarlet, hairy drupe which persists into late winter.

Flower: Dioecious, greenish-yellow, June-July.

Habit: 10-15 high with comparable spread; Usually grows in colonies as it suckers and develops in all directions from the mother plant (note roadside plantings).

Fall Color: Yellow to orange-red-purple

Eco/Notes: Good for mass plantings, highways, dry, poor soil areas.

Key ID Feature(s): twig, habit


Genus: Ribes

Species: spp.

Family: Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage family) Also sometimes found listed in Grossulariaceae (Gooseberry family). Will accept either family on quiz.

Common Name: Gooseberry, Currant.

Leaf: The leaves are alternate, single, lobed and maple-like but much smaller with small serrations or finely crenate margin. Leaves vary considerably in size on the same plant. Typically from 1-4 cm. in length but can be larger. Petiole usually quite fine, and often longer than the leaf.

Bud: Light tan to brown. Lower scales often darker than upper scales. Usually imbricate, conical, --inch. Scales not appressed. Usually at acute angle to stem immediately above petiole.

Twig: Med. to fine. Typically straw to tan colored, becoming gray-brown or brown. Somewhat exfoliating in very fine strips. Gooseberries twigs have spines, Currants are usually not spiny. In this class we will ask you to identify Gooseberries which will be spiny. Typically 1-3 spines at a node, and may have many finer spines between nodes or be spineless between nodes.

Bark: See twig.

Fruit: Summer, Berry, edible. May be borne singly or in pairs at the axils. Many minute seeds at the center. A gooseberry or currant may be green, white (clear to gray-green), yellow, or shades of red from pink to purple to almost black. Fruits of the European gooseberry are usually 1 inch long but may be as large as a small narrow plum. American gooseberry and Currant fruits are smaller (to 1/2 inch), perfectly round, all becoming pink to maroon-red at maturity but some albino forms. Intensity of color depends on amount of sunlight

Flower: Small, 5-petaled, variable color size and shape in genus.

Habit: Deciduous shrubs, typically up to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Native spp. have weeping stems that will root wherever they touch

Fall Color: Variable, not much usually, but can be yellow, with varying degrees of color.

Eco/Notes: Genus Ribes contains gooseberries and currants. Many species but all have important similarities. Important Wildlife food. Berries have a unique flavor are often used with other fruits in desserts like apple pie or cobblers, jams, jellies, juices and especially tarts, and more. All are edible but European varieties are preferred for food. Typically partial sun or shade but will grow in full sun. Killed by high heat. Ribes is an alternate host to white pine blister rust which can kill many 5-needle pines. It is often managed in pine forests.

Key ID Feature(s): Leaf, Twig with spines, habit.


Genus: Rubus

Species: allegheniensis

Family: Rosaceae

Common Name: blackberry

Leaf: Palmately compound leaves with 5-7 leaflets; Wooly or velvety beneath (contrast with raspberry which is trifoliate.)

Bud: Green tinged red. 1 cm. Imbricate, conical, loose scales with 2 stipule hairs from base. (similar to raspberry but larger)

Twig: Strongly angular and/or fluted with stout prickles. No bloom. Green to maroon. (contrast with Raspberry which has round smooth twig)

Bark: - -

Fruit: Berry, black, Late Summer. (July-Sept.) (contrast with Raspberry which is early summer June-July).

Flower: White (May-June)

Habit: Upright or arching shrub, to 10. Ends do not root like Raspberry.

Fall Color: Maroon.

Eco/Notes: Important wildlife food. Edible.

Key ID Feature(s): Stem , leaves.


Genus: Tilia

Species: americana

Family: Tiliaceae

Common Name: American basswood

Leaf: Alternate, simple, broad-ovate, 4-8" long, almost as wide; Coarsely serrate; Lustrous dark green and glabrous above, light green beneath.

Bud: Terminal buds absent; Lateral, -1/3" long, flattened, lopsided, brown, reddish brown, or greenish, smooth or slightly downy, 2-scaled.

Twig: Smooth gray-broww, shining brown or reddish green, covered with a bloom, zig-zag, glabrous.

Bark: Vertically ridged, gray to brown.

Fruit: Fall. Nut-like structure, 1/3-1/2" long. Consists of a wing with stalk hanging from wing with 1 to several seeds hanging on branched peduncle. Very unique.

Flower: Pale yellow, " wide, fragrant, June; Bees supposedly make the finest honey from these flowers.

Habit: 60-80 in height with a spread of to 2/3s the height.

Fall Color: Pale yellow

Eco/Notes: Prefers deep moist fertile soils, but will tolerate drier, heavier conditions.

Key ID Feature(s): Key ID feature in fall is fruit. Use your binoculars. You will see the fruit hanging in the branches after leaves have fallen. The twig / bud architecture and bark are fair ID features. Key summer ID is leaves.


Genus: Ulmus

Species: americana

Family: Ulmaceae

Common Name: American elm

Leaf: Alternate, simlple, ovate-oblong, 3-6" long; Double serrate; Lustrous dark green, glabrous and rough or smooth above, pubescent or nearly glabrous beneath. Classic elm-leaf shape. Can be distinguished from Ulmus rubra because pubescence under leaf is soft, not rough.

Bud: Absent terminal buds; Lateral = imbricate, ovate to conical, pointed, " long, light reddish brown, smooth and shining or pale-downy.

Twig: Slender, round, red-brown, pubescent at first, becoming glabrous; Leaf scar with 3 distinct bundle traces that result in a cat-face configuration.

Bark: Dark gray with broad, deep intersecting ridges, or often scaly; Cross section of outer bark shows distinct chocolate/vanilla layering. Bark can be much thicker and more corky in wet situations.

Fruit: disc-shaped samara, " long, maturing May-June. Seed is typically off-center in samara (contrast with U. rubra where seed is usually centered)

Flower: Greenish-red (March). One of earliest flowering large trees.

Habit: 60-80 in height with a spread of to 2/3s the height. Fine branching structure even when tree is large.

Fall Color: Yellow, occasionally apricot.

Eco/Notes: Susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease. Trees usually get the disease when diameter exceeds 6-8 inches. There are resistant varieties now available for planting. The tree is far from extinct. Still exists in very large populations but most do not get very old, and is not often planted in cities anymore. Tree is common to riparian areas. Is a vigorous pioneer invader and will grow in upland areas, along fencerows, disturbed areas, etc. Extremely urban tolerant.

Key ID Feature(s): #1 is Cut the bark. Also, Vase-shaped habit.