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Genus: Abies (Fir)

Species: balsamea

Family: Pinaceae (Pine family)

Common Name: Balsam Fir

Leaf: Flattened needle, approximately 2-ranked, 2cm, two white lines of stomata on bottom surface of leaf.

Bud: imbricate, brown, blunt-conical, smooth, ~5-8 mm long, ½ as wide.

Twig: Yellowish green, turning brownish and eventually gray.

Bark: younger bark smooth gray with resin blisters, older bark scaly.

Fruit: Cones, upright, purple-gray, 2-3".

Habit: medium tree, conical-pyramidal habit.

Fall Color: evergreen

Eco/Notes: Southern most extent of range is northern N. England, and Northern Michigan. Ohio is far south of range, trees generally do not tolerate the heat here and are subject to numerous pests.

Key ID Feature(s): leaves



Genus: Acer

Species: nigrum

Family: Aceraceae

Common Name: black maple

Leaf: Similar to sugar maple, except that they tend to cup downward and appear to be "wilting", also have small accessory or "stipule" leaves present attached at base of petiole.


Bud: very similar to sugar maple. Some may have gray pubescence on terminal bud.

Twig: greenish, with light lenticels. Similar to sugar maple.

Bark: Similar to sugar maple but darker and rougher. Older mature trees have much blacker bark compared with sugar maple which have more brown at great age.

Fruit: similar to sugar maple

Flower: similar to sugar maple

Habit: med or large tree Can exceed 100 feet in height, oval crown.

Fall Color: Yellow, less color than sugar maple.

Eco/Notes: May be used for maple syrup. More drought tolerant than sugar maple, but not necessarily more urban tolerant. Often lumped in "cline" with black maple Acer nigrum, called Acer saccharum-nigrum. Clinal variation goes from sugar maple in N.E. to black maple at southwesterly extent of range in area of Missouri and Arkansas. Range overlaps in Ohio. Wildlife value is high, songbirds, small mammals, hoofed browsers, seeds, habitat, bark, foliage.

Key ID Feature(s): Stipule accessory leaves. Bark.

Genus: Aesculus

Species: hippocastanum

Family: Hippocastanaceae

Common Name: horsechestnut

Leaf: palmately compound, 7 leaflets, serrate, leaflets are 10-15 cm, similar to Ohio buckeye, but darker and thicker and slightly glossier.

Bud: Similar to Ohio buckeye, but larger and glossy-resinous (sticky).

Twig: thick reddish-brown with lenticels

Bark: brown-gray. More brown than O. buckeye.

Fruit: Similar to O. buckeye, but usually larger/rounder, and husks have larger spines. Excellent for buckeye crafts and jewelry. Trees bear many large round horsechestnuts, mostly 1 per capsule.

Flower: large white upright panicles in may, bottle-brush-like 15-24 cm.

Habit: dense upright round to oval crown. Branches do not droop to same extent as O. buckeye.

Fall Color: None. Holds leaves much later than buckeye, resistant to buckeye leaf anthracnose.

Eco/Notes: European import. Superior landscape tree to buckeye, often planted as a "fake buckeye" where buckeye is desired but will not grow. Tree is slow growing, but more urban tolerant than O. buckeye. Tree is NOT a chestnut. True chestnuts are in genus Castanea. Wildlife value is very low.

Key ID Feature(s): buds


Genus: Betula

Species: nigra

Family: Betulaceae

Common Name: river birch

Leaf: Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, rhombic to ovate, 3-6 cm, doubly serrate, green above, paler pubescent below.

Bud: small, conical imbricate, reddish-brown

Twig: fine, reddish-brown, zig-zag,

Bark: salmon-colored, smooth with horizontal lenticels when young gradually becoming more exfoliating and becoming gray and scaly when older. Commercial varieties selected for smooth light bark. Bark is very exfoliating.

Fruit: catkin-like cone containing many small 3-winged seeds. 3-4 cm.

Flower: female catkins. Dioecious.

Habit: trunk usually divides into several leaders very low. Medium tree.

Fall Color: yellow

Eco/Notes: This is a southerly birch, range is roughly from here south to Georgia and northern border of Florida, and east to Missouri, Mississippi river valley up to Iowa. In native habitat the tree prefers alluvial soils, with high soil moisture, often growing on stream banks, bottomlands, and infrequently flooded areas. Commercial varieties are popular landscape tree. Bark does not hold light color for more than 15-20 years except on smaller diameter stems.

Key ID Feature(s): bark



Genus: Ginkgo

Species: biloba

Family: Ginkgoaceae (ginkgo, only one species in family, order)

Common Name: ginkgo

Leaf: Fan-shaped, often 2-lobed, or irregular multiple shallow lobes. Veins appear to be monocotyledonous, but tree is a dicot.

Bud: brown smooth bullet-like

Twig: has numerous spur growths

Bark: gray-brown, irregular furrows

Fruit: Female is seed covered with yellow-orange fleshy coating that smells like rancid-butter, or stinky sneakers 2-3 cm. Male seed is wind-pollinated motile like spermatozoa, travels through seed coat to ova. Inner seed resembles a large pistachio nut, and is edible. Tastes best when roasted. Popular food in orient. To eat, soak seeds and remove outer odorous covering and discard. Roast, grill or boil for best results. Serve with Sake.

Habit: fairly upright when young, becoming very broad spreading when older - Unique. Some landscape varieties selected for narrower habit.

Fall Color: Bright yellow. Leaves on entire tree tend to turn color at about the same time. Color holds for several days to week or more. Tree also will also tend to drop all leaves over a short time period, sometimes on same day, forms a yellow carpet on lawn that some people find attractive.

Eco/Notes: Oldest known tree species, and possibly oldest seed-bearing species. Fossils in Ginkgoales order date back 270 million years. This is last surviving species in the order. G. biloba is sole Ginkgo to survive the Jurassic era. Last fossil records in N. America 7 million years ago. Few remaining trees were in China and Japan, and most were cultivated for food. Food was considered very luxurious, seeds were dyed red and served at weddings. Buddhist monasteries cultivated for medicinal properties. Re-introduced in N. America and Europe in 17th Century. ( Does that make it an exotic or not?). Found as rare petrified wood. Tree existed long before humans but only survived because of humans. Tree is very slow growing for first 20 years, but grows more rapidly after that. Tree is quite urban tolerant. Be sure to spell "Gink - Go", with 2 G's. (Wildlife value Medium? Currently under research)

Key ID Feature(s): Everything.

Genus: Gymnocladus

Species: dioicus

Family: Fabaceae (currently being reclassified along with Gleditsia, Cercis and others in Caesalpiniaceae family, see Virginia Tech website.)

Common Name: Kentucky Coffeetree

Leaf: Alternate Bi-pinnately compound, much larger than honeylocust1. A single leaf can be up to a meter long, but more often 30-50 cm (1-2 feet). It is one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring; new leaves are often tinged with pink as they change to dark green. Leaflets are sub-opposite on rachis with pointy tips. On smaller plants, large leaves are confused for branches. Fresh leaves can be crushed and mixed with molasses to make a fly poison that kills many types of flies. Fall Color yellow to brown. Can also boil the leaves and then let sit for 2-3 days. The water is an insecticide to certain insects.

Bud: small blunt partially buried

Twig: Thick, with salmon-colored pith, large leaf scars, small blunt buds above leaf scar.

Bark: Gray scaly. Lighter when young, becoming darker, orange in cracks under scales resembles red bud bark.

Fruit: Large flat thick pod, with several bean-like seeds inside. Inside of pod has sweet sticky substance is mildly toxic to humans. Dirr reports in his book that as a child he and other children ate the pulp. Livestock show some problems associated with fruit that has fallen into drinking water troughs. Some medicinal properties are associated with the pulp. Symptoms of excess pulp ingestion have been reported such as: vertigo with a sensation of fullness of the head; burning of the eyes; sneezing; salivation; nausea with burning of the stomach; desire to urinate; increased sexual desire; pains in the limbs, numbness of the body, sleepiness, and coldness."

Eco/Notes: Kentucky coffee tree grows on a very wide variety of sites and soils. It prefers rich, moist soils in floodplains, terraces, ravines, coves, and lower slopes. Rare tree from southern Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee. Kentucky coffee tree is mid-tolerant of shade and requires openings for successful regeneration. Wood is hard and attractive, similar to honeylocust, but relatively rare so not a major timber tree. Good landscape tree. Wildlife value is low.

Seeds can be roasted and used to make a coffee-like beverage. Early settlers to area used as coffee substitute. The large, hard seeds of this species were used in a dice-like game by various native American tribes, and the tree's range was expanded in this way. Feuding settlers practiced "water witching" on neighbors with pods. Roots were ground to make "smelling salts".

To make "Kentucky Coffee": take one cup of seeds and place them in a single layer on a pan and roast in oven for at least 30 minutes. Let the seeds cool and grind them into a powder. Place in a filter and pour hot water slowly over the powder. Seeds must be roasted to be edible.

Habit: Medium spreading tree, 60-80 feet.

Key ID Feature(s): Large rachises, fruit, pith.




Genus: Larix

Species: spp.

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: Larch (Genus includes Larches, and Tamarack, test on Larch only)

Leaf: Deciduous, clusters or whorls of short needles on twig. Distinctive.

Bud: brown imbricate

Twig: Brown - tan (Tamarack can be purplish) with notable leaf-growth areas.

Bark: Gray, furrowed, scaly

Fruit: Cone, 3-5 cm.

Habit: conical, pyramidal.

Fall Color: Golden brown

Eco/Notes: One of the deciduous conifers. Looses leaves annually. Native Larches (western Larch, or L. occidentalis) are found in Pacific Northwest. Very large conifers, up to 180 feet. Lab plant is a European Larch (L. decidua). Needle growth and twigs are very similar.

Key ID Feature(s): leaves, twig.

Genus: Liquidambar

Species: styraciflua

Family: Hamamelidaceae (witch-hazel)

Common Name: sweetgum

Leaf: Star shaped, 4-6 inches, serrate margin, 5-7 pointy lobes.

Bud: conical pointy imbricate

Twig: olive green-brown, lenticels, can get corky ridges check 2nd, 3rd year growth.

Bark: irregular shallow furrows and ridges becoming deeper with age.

Fruit: Green, hard, plastic like "koosh balls" filled with small seeds that are released upon drying. Very unique.

Habit: Very pyramidal and excurrent for most of life. Fairly unique among hardwoods. Sometimes called "hazel-pine" because of habit.

Fall Color: Maroon, red-purple

Eco/Notes: This is northernmost extent of natural range. Grows south to Florida, East to Coast, and West to Eastern Texas (approx. 24" rainfall line) Commonly planted in landscape. one of the most adaptable hardwood species in its tolerance to different soil and site conditions. Grows best on the moist alluvial clay and loamy soils of river bottoms, also grows on wide range of Piedmont and Coastal Plain soils. Does not grow well on dry sandy soils. Urban tolerant, but people think fruit is nuisance. Root system survives of cool, med. fires. Other common names include redgum, sapgum, starleaf gum, liquidambar, hazel pine, and satin walnut. When wounded the tree exudes a clear sweet sap that can be chewed or eaten. The sap contains styrax, a mild antiseptic which preserves it. Wildlife value is low.


Key ID Feature(s): fruit, habit, twig.


Genus: Magnolia

Species: acuminata

Family: Magnoliaceae

Common Name: cucumbertree magnolia

Leaf: alternate, simple 5-10". Ovate, acuminate tip, cordate base. Pubescent underneath.

Bud: 2 cm, very pubescent, light-colored w/ single-keeled scale,

Twig: brown, glabrous, U-shaped leaf scar, spicy odor.

Bark: Smooth gray-brown, shallow furrows, plating

Fruit: Aggregate of follicles pink-red, Autumn, turning brown. Vaguely resembles a cucumber.

Flower: Late spring, high in tree, 3-4 cm.

Habit: pyramidal, getting gradually more round with age, medium tree 50-60'.

Fall Color: brown to none

Eco/Notes: Natural range is Lake Ontario to Georgia, Western Ohio to ~200 miles from E. coast. Typically prefers mesic, slightly acid conditions. Wildlife value is low.

Key ID Feature(s): buds, bark



Genus: Morus

Species: spp.

Family: Moraceae (mulberry family)

Common Name: mulberry

Leaf: alternate, simple, dentate, can be lobed or not, or both on same tree. White mulberry has more and much deeper lobes than red mulberry.

Bud: stalked, glossy

Twig: milky sap, orange-brown

Bark: orange brown with raised lenticels, getting darker brown with deep furrows. White mulberry (exotic) has more yellow bark.

Fruit: Mulberry, resembles blackberry, very edible. Early Summer (June-July).

Flower: - -

Habit: med-small tree 30-50', pyramidal to round.

Fall Color: golden yellow

Eco/Notes: Native is red mulberry (Morus rubra) Range is entire Eastern United States From Gulf to north to Central Michigan and Wisconsin and West to Kansas and Eastern Texas. Prefers moist soils, floodplains, but grows upland. Seed spread by birds. Wildlife value is very high, all mammals, many birds, people, fruit especially. White mulberry (Morus alba) is invasive, and has naturalized especially in urban and disturbed areas where it is very urban tolerant. See weeping white mulberry near Kottman hall, many red and some white mulberries along Olentangy river. Berries of both species are equally edible. Short-lived, usually 40-70 yrs.

Key ID Feature(s): bark



Genus: Picea

Species: abies

Family: Pinaceae (Pine family)

Common Name: Norway spruce

Leaf: Needles (1/2" to 1" long), dark green, rhombic in cross-section, stiff, straight or curved, blunt point.

Bud: ¼" long, reddish or light brown, not resinous

Twig: Hairless, hang downward, reddish brown, new growth has orange coloration.

Bark: Thin on young trees, thick with flaking surface scales with age.

Fruit: Cylindrical cones (4" to 6" long) fall soon after maturing, light brown.

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: 60’ to 90’ in height, pyramidal with drooping branches. Lateral growth droops below main scaffolding branches, especially on bottom half of tree.

Fall Color: Evergreen

Eco/Notes: Only spruce in our area with drooping branchlets and only one with large cones. Overplanted, used as wind break

Key ID Feature(s): Drooping branches, cones















Genus: Picea

Species: pungens

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: blue spruce

Leaf: Needles spread around stem, straight, rigid, pointy, ¾" to 1" long, 4-sided. Color varies from dull green to bluish or silvery white. Some cultivated varieties are very blue-white.

Bud: Yellowish brown, blunt, nearly spherical, not resinous, scales, "rosette" in shape in fall/winter.

Twig: Hairless, stout, orange-brown.

Bark: gray flakey.

Fruit: Cones, 2" to 4" long, cylindrical with slight narrowing at ends. Light brown at maturity, green with violet bloom when young.

Flower: --

Habit: Stiff horizontal branches, dense, pyramidal, 30’ to 60’ in height.

Fall Color: Evergreen

Eco/Notes: Prefers rich, moist soil and full sunlight. Overused as landscape species. Most often fails due to wind-throw when planted in open and height exceeds 30 or 40 feet. Avoid planting out of range in parks etc.

Key ID Feature(s): Blue or blue-green foliage.






Genus: Pinus

Species: nigra

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: Austrian pine, black pine

Leaf: Needles in dense pairs, stiff, straight or curved, 3" to 5" long, sharp to the touch, dark green. Needles "crush" when you bend them in half but don't snap very often (unless very cold). 2 per fasicle.

Bud: ½" to 1" long, light brown scales, resinous, sharp point

Twig: Hairless, yellow-brown, rigid

Bark: Dark brown furrows with gray ridges. Attractive. Very mature bark (e.g. 50+ years) will turn white with black cracks, see old specimens in front of library.

Fruit: Cones growing solitary or in clusters, conical, 2" to 3" long, becoming brown with age, 1" long scales

Flower: Dead flowers often hang on into fall.

Habit: Pyrimidal when young, becoming flat-topped. Short trunk with low, stout, spreading branches. 35’ to 50’ in height.

Fall Color: Evergreen

Eco/Notes: Good for use as windbreak, able to withstand city conditions. Often planted in Ohio due to its ability to grow in clay soils. Native of Europe and commonly planted in landscape settings, parks, etc. Subject to fungal blight on needles that gradually works its way up the tree. To control this in park settings manually remove affected branches and as many cones as possible, and remove "Typhoid Mary" trees that are spreading the fungus to nearby trees.

Key ID Feature(s): Bud, needles.

Genus: Pinus

Species: resinosa

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: red pine

Leaf: Needles in dense pairs (2 per fascicle), slender, snap when bent, 5" to 6" long, medium to dark green. Needles similar to P. nigra, but softer, thinner.

Bud: ½" long, ovoid, resinous, scales, similar to P. nigra but smaller less resinous.

Twig: Stout, light brown to yellow green

Bark: Reddish in color, scaly when young, larger plated when older, irregular diamond shape outline.

Fruit: Cones, 1.5" to 2.5" long, solitary or in pairs, light brown, conical

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: Heavily branched crown when young, becoming more symmetrically oval with tufted foliage. 50’ in height

Fall Color: evergreen

Eco/Notes: Generally a northern tree whose natural range does not reach as far south as Ohio. Widely used for restoration. Often called Norway pine.

Key ID Feature(s): needles, bark









Genus: Pinus

Species: strobus

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: Eastern white pine

Leaf: Needles, 2" to 4" long, slender and occurring in 5’s. Bluish green. Remain for 2 years. Second year needles drop in fall.

Bud: ¼" long, resinous, ovoid with sharp point

Twig: slender, green becoming gray

Bark: deep furrows, longitudinal scaly ridges, dark brown to black

Fruit: Cone, 6 to 8" long, tan/brown, cylindrical, often curved, resinous. Mature after 2 years. Edible (most pine seeds are edible, larger seeds used as "pine nuts" in cooking).

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: Relatively few and horizontal limbs, very distinctive plume-like outline, 50’ to 80’ tall in landscape, but can reach 200' in forest. Considered an "emergent" in eastern mixed forest, emerges from top of canopy.

Fall Color: evergreen

Eco/Notes: Fast growing. Extensively lumbered—trees used to grow to heights of 200’. Plagued by white pine blister rust which can be controlled by the removal of all currants/gooseberries from w/in ¼ mile of white pine (fungus spends a portion of its life cycle on these species). Our only soft pine and the largest northeastern conifer. Prefers moist well-drained soils, but can be found in extreme wet or dry conditions. Mid-tolerant of shade. Good for restoration of shade tolerant species, allows shade tolerant maples etc to fill in underneath. Wildlife value, med-high, seeds edible by birds and many small mammals especially rodents.

Key ID Feature(s): Habit, soft contour, 5-needles per bundle.





Genus: Pinus

Species: sylvestris

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: scotch pine

Leaf: 2-needle pine. Needles in pairs, 1" to 3" long, blue green, twisted, stiff.

Bud: Oblong/ovate, ¼" to ½" long, pointed, resinous, reddish brown.

Twig: Green when young, turning dullish gray-brown

Bark: Orange-brown, thin peeling papery flakes, irregular fissures

Fruit: Cones solitary or 2 to 3 together, 1.5" to 3" long, gray or dull brown, scales with sharp points.

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: Irregular pyramid when young, becoming flat to round-topped when older (umbrella shaped), especially when open grown. 60’ to 90’ in height.

Fall Color: evergreen

Eco/Notes: Will grow in most soil conditions. Imported from Europe for forest and Christmas tree plantings. Used in landscape for picturesque character

Key ID Feature(s): Habit, orange bark







Genus: Pseudotsuga

Species: menziesii

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: Douglas fir

Leaf: Needles, 1" to 1.5"long, dark to blue green, two white bands of stomata beneath, smell of camphor / citrus when crushed. Pleasant.

Bud: Not resinous, scales, conical, ¼ to 1/3" long, shiny chestnut brown. Looks sort of like beech or large sugar maple buds. Unique among conifers we study.

Twig: Glaborous, yellow-green when young, becoming gray-brown.

Bark: Smooth when young except for resin blisters; Deep red-brown ridges with irregular fissures when older.

Fruit: Cone, 3" to 4" long, light brown, prominent bracts that look like little snake tongues, persist through winter.

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: Pyramidal with straight stiff branches, lower branches drooping while upper branches ascending. 40’ to 80’ in height.

Fall Color: Evergreen.

Eco/Notes: Prefers moist soils, sunny conditions, injured by high wind. Makes a nice Christmas tree. Shade intolerant, generally must be clearcut with enough space to give full sun to regenerate.

Key ID Feature(s): cones, buds






Genus: Taxus

Species: spp.

Family: Taxaceae (yew familiy)

Common Name: yew

Leaf: glossy or dull dark green above, lighter below, flat and needle-like, pointed or tapering, arranged radially or in a flat plane,

Bud: Small, scaly

Twig: Green when young

Bark: Reddish to brown

Fruit: Brown, nut-like seed, covered by fleshy red aril (berry-like)

Flower: Dioecious

Habit: Large variation. Spreading, ascending branches. Generally compact dense character w/o pruning, spreading (Canada yew) some with more tree-like habit (Pacific yew).

Fall Color: Evergreen

Eco/Notes: Do not tolerate extreme heat. Most are shade tolerant and found in understory. Wood from American Yew used to make European bows before advent of firearms. Taxus genus used to make Taxol, the cancer fighting drug. Seeds eaten by birds but foliage generally toxic.

Key ID Feature(s): foliage, habit, fruit.








Genus: Thuja

Species: occidentalis

Family: Cupressaceae (cypress)

Common Name: northern white-cedar

Leaf: Flattened, scale-like, 1/12", bright green.


Twig: Branchlets appearing in fan-like sprays, alternate

Bark: Gray-red-brown, close network of connecting ridges and shallow furrows

Fruit: Cones, bell-shapes, ½" long, light brown,

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: Medium in height (40’ to 60’), dense branching, short ascending branches to ground that end in fan-like branchlets.

Fall Color: Yellow-green-brown in winter (can be ugly).

Eco/Notes: Tolerant of heat, cold, wind, prefers moist environments. Columbus at southern extent of its range.

Key ID Feature(s): Fan-shaped branchlets















Genus: Tsuga

Species: canadensis

Family: Pinaceae

Common Name: eastern hemlock

Leaf: Needles, 5/16" to 9/16" long, dark green above, 2 white bands beneath, attached to branch with short petiole. 2-ranked in appearance.

Bud: very small, light brown, hairy scales.

Twig: Flexible, slender, rough when needles removed

Bark: Young—flaky and scaly, Old—wide, flat ridges, brown with purplish streaks.

Fruit: Cones, ½" to 1" brown, small.

Flower: Monoecious

Habit: 60’ to 70’ in height. More round-topped than spruce or fir

Fall Color: Evergreen

Eco/Notes: Shade tolerant. Grows in understory. Moist, well drained soils, does not tolerate wind or drought. Make poor Christmas trees since needles fall off once tree dries. Tea once made from leaves and twigs (this is not poison hemlock). Poor quality wood.

Key ID Feature(s): Silvery foliage, white lines on underside of needle.