Forest Tree Identification - Clay Hill Memorial Forest by pptfiles


									     Forest Tree

      Gordon K. Weddle
Photographs by Robert Doty and
          G. Weddle
         May 26 2004
Outdoor Classroom Institute 2004
Forested Ecosystems
   Study of forests requires knowledge of the
    species that compose them but……..
   Leaves of forest trees are often
   Species must be identified primarily by
    their bark and fruit as leaves are too far
    away for careful examination
   Here we use photographs of bark for
       Bark Characteristics

 Texture
 Color

 Thickness

 Tightness

 Pattern
                   Bark Texture
   Smooth
   Rough with ridges
    and fissures
   Tight barked
   Loose
       Flaky
       Shreddy
       Delaminating
                 Bark Thickness

   Bark on many trees is quite thin.
       Examples would be American Beech, Black
        Cherry and Ironwood
       Thin Barked trees generally do not have a lot
        of texture in their bark
   Thick Barked trees include ash, walnut,
    and yellow poplar.
       All trees develop thicker bark with age.
              Bark Tightness
    This is a measure of how firmly attached
    the bark is to the woody tissue.
   It is not related to bark thickness as Oaks
    have thick bark but bark that is also very
   If the Bark is exfoliating, shredding and
    scaling off then the bark would be said to
    be loose
                  Bark Pattern
   Bark consists of ridges and valleys or
    fissures separating them
       Some have wide fissures
       Some have narrow fissures
       Some have fissures “painted white”
   Thin barked trees can have pigment-based
    patterns. For example tree of heaven has
    diamond-shaped patches.
              Eastern Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana, is our only
native cone bearing tree. This
species is the source of cedar
lumber so often used in cedar
chests. It is identifiable by its
shreddy reddish bark and by the
persistence of dead limbs on the
lower part of the tree. Leaves
are scale-like.
Black Willow
Salix nigra, is a wetland
  species that is common
  along streams and lakes.
  At Clay Hill it occurs only
  where the soil is
  persistently wet. Bark is
  black and deeply
  furrowed with scaly
  ridges. Leaves are 3-6
  inches long and lance
     Walnuts (Juglandaceae)

Alternate pinnately compound leaves
Fruit encased in a fleshy husk
Twigs with chambered pith
Species of forest openings and gaps
  intolerant of shade
Black Walnut
Juglans nigra, has
compound alternate
leaves, deeply furrowed
reddish black bark
superficially resembling
ash. Bark of walnut is
layered as seen in the
insert on the left.
Walnuts are usually
found near these trees.
Twigs have chambered
Juglans cinerea, white walnut
is identifiable by its sinuous
dark ridges that separate flat
white patches between. The
leaves are walnut-like. The
nut looks like an elongated
walnut. The roots of larger
trees are distinctively
    Hickories (Juglandaceae)

Alternate pinnately compound leaves
Nut enclosed in a woody husk
Pith solid
Bitternut Hickory
Carya cordiformis, has bark
  that contains shallow
  furrows and ridges that
  are more or less parallel
  to one another. Fruits
  are about 1 “ or less and
  distinctively winged. This
  species has sulfur yellow
  buds and yellowish color
  on the nuts. Bitternut
  differs from the other
  hickories because its buds
  are slender.
 Pignut Hickory
Carya glabra, resembles
bark of mockernut hickory
but differs in having 5
leaflets rather than 7-9.
and in the size and shape
of the nut. Pignut fruits
are smaller than those of
either mockernut or
shagbark. They also are
differently shaped being
somewhat oval with an
elongate stem such that
they appear pendant.
Mockernut Hickory
 Carya tomentosa, is one of three
 so-called tight-barked hickories we
 have at CHMF. Its bark is fissured.
 The fissures are arranged such
 that the ridges between them
 appear braided or interlaced. The
 tree has compound leaves with 7-9
 leaflets. Nuts of this species are
 large (1 1/2 -2 inches) and similar
 to those of shagbark hickories.
Shagbark Hickory
Carya ovata, is a common,
  easily identified forest
  tree. The only other tree
  with such shaggy bark is
  the kingnut hickory and it
  is a bottomland species.
  Leaves have 5-7 leaflets.
  Winter buds are quite
  large to ¾ “. Nuts are
  edible and a favorite of
  humans and squirrels
       Birches (Betulaceae)

Leaves alternate and simple
Leaf edges serrated
Generally small trees
Two woodland species, hornbeam and
  eastern hornbeam both also called
  ironwood. Both species are slow growing
  understory trees.
      Hop Hornbeam (Ironwood)
Ostrya virginiana, is a distinctive
understory tree seldom reaching
a diameter of 10 “ or more.
Ironwood has a distinctively
shreddy bark, oval unlobed
leaves with saw-toothed edges
and a distinctively hops shaped
fruit in autumn.
This species is one of the
slowest growing species in the
forest. This slow growth makes
growth rings incredibly small
and the wood incredibly hard.
Carpinus caroliniana, has
  bark that resembles
  American beech, but it
  has a very sinuous
  appearance. Bark is
  often mottled with light
  and dark patches. The
  photograph was taken
  when this tree was wet
  so it appears darker than
  it normally would
 American Beech
Fagus grandifolia, is one of
the more easily identified
trees. This large forest
species has thin gray bark
that does not change much
with age. It gets covered
with patches of algae and
lichen occasionally giving it
a greenish tint. The leaf
edges are serrated and the
leaves are ovate in shape.
In winter the buds are very
elongate and sharp, often
resembling needles or awns.
            Oaks (Fagaceae)

   Leaves simple and alternate
   Leaves have highly variable margins
   Fruit is an acorn
   Acorn shape and size is species-specific
   Terminal buds are clustered at the end of
   Pith is obviously star-shaped
             White vs Red Oaks
   White Oaks
       Leaf edges are smooth or scalloped
       Acorn matures in one year
       Nut shell smooth inside
   Red Oaks
       Leaf lobes commonly sharp and bristle tipped
       Acorn matures in two years.
       Nut shell woolly inside
                      White Oak
Quercus alba, is one of the
more important trees in
forests of Kentucky. This
species is easily identifiable
by is light gray color, by its
relatively thin bark and by
shreddy nature of its bark.
Leaves are distinctively
lobed and its acorns are
quite small (~1/2 “)
relative to those found in
red oaks.
          Black Oak
Quercus velutina, is a
large forest tree with dark
bark that is very hard and
deeply fissured. In older
trees the fissures fragment
horizontally forming a bark
with a very blocky
appearance. Leaves
resemble those of red oak
but have flat bases. Acorn
is distinctive with cup
covering ½ of nut and
having loose scales.
Kernel is yellow
Northern Red Oak
Quercus borealis, is an
important, large forest
species. Its bark is similar
to that of most other red
oaks except that in the
younger branches there
are silvery streaks
between darker patches.
Northern red is also easily
identifiable by its
distinctive acorn which is
¾-1 inch in length and
capped by a saucer
shaped cup.
Shumard Oak
Quercus shumardii, leaves are
  more distinctive than the
  bark or acorn. Leaf notches
  or sinuses tend to be
  narrower at the edge of the
  leaf than they are closer to
  the mid-vein. Bark most
  closely resembles that of
  black oak. Acorn cup is
  shallow and identifiable by
  elongate pointed scales.
    American Elm
Ulmus americana, was one of our
largest forest species until the
introduction of Dutch Elm
Disease. Now most of the trees
are small. It is recognizable by
having thinly fissured bark with
ridges between these fissures
flakey. The general color is
brownish red. The tree is also
identifiable by its distinctive
simple leaves. They are ovate
and serrate-edged with uneven,
asymmetrical bases.
Celtis occidentalis, is common in
fencerows and other openings but
not common in woodlands.
Younger trees have bark that is
similar to American Beech but as
they age the develop warty ridges
of layered bark. Leaf base is
uneven or lopsided.
    Yellow Poplar
     (Tulip Tree)
Liriodendron tulipifera, is a very
common species at CHMF. This
straight tall tree is characterized
in younger species by shallow
white-colored patches between
narrow ridges. Also the tree
leaves triangular limb scars as
the lower limbs are lost. In the
spring this member of the
magnolia family has showy
yellow flowers that eventually
produce a winged fruit.
Sassafras albidum, is a
distinctive tree young or
old. This specimen is quite
large. Its bark has a
reddish cast and a
distinctive spicy odor. It is
deeply furrowed and
blocky. Younger trees are
identifiable because the
new twigs are green in
color and the leaves have
distinctively two or tree
different shapes.
Platanus occidentalis, also
  known as the plane tree
  is one of the larger trees
  in North America. This
  species has thin peeling
  bark with patches of
  white in younger
  branches. It requires
  substantial moisture and
  can be considered a
  wetland species.
Black Cherry
Prunus serotina, is a
  common forest species
  that is easily identifiable
  by its black scaly bark.
  It has a thin platy
  appearance. Leaves
  are simple, serrate and
  alternate. Fruit is a
  small (1/4 inch) black
Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis, is a small
understory tree with thin orange
tinted bark that becomes scaly
with age. Leaves are heart
shaped. Flowers are pink-red in
early spring. Seeds are born in a
pod-like fruit .
Tree of Heaven
Ailanthus altissima is an introduced
species. Its origin is China and it
has fast become one of the most
invasive of introduced trees.
Tree of heaven has a thin gray to
black bark with diamond-shaped
markings and a generally sooty
appearance. Leaves of this species
are pinnately compound and they
possess a distinctively foul odor.
Leaflets have a small projection or
yellowish gland at their base.
Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum, is the
  source tree for hard rock
  maple furniture and
  maple syrup. Maples all
  have opposite leaves,
  winged fruits. Bark is
  incredibly variable but
  generally has long scaly
  plates. Red maple has
  bark broken up into
  smaller scaly plates.
Red Maple
Acer rubrum, is a common
  forest tree with oppisite
  serrate edged leaves.
  The bark in this tree is
  much more similar to that
  of silver maple (water
  maples that is often used
  as a shade tree because
  of its rapid growth.
Aesculus octandra, is a
  distinctive tree. Its bark
  is thin and platy and
  almost always covered
  with mosses and algae.
  Its leaves are compound
  with leaflets arranged like
  the fingers of a hand
  (palmate). This species is
  shade tolerant. It occurs
  at moist sites.
       Black Gum
Nyssa sylvatica, is one of two
species with “alligator bark”.
It is deeply fissured vertically
and horizontally such that it is
quite blocky in appearance.
The edges of these
irregularly-shaped blocks are
often rounded over. Tupelo
leaves are among the first to
change colors in the fall.
Generally they are bright
crimson red.
Cornus florida, is perhaps
  our most common
  understory tree. It is
  recognized by opposite
  simple leaves. The bark
  is thin, reddish and
  broken into squarish
  plates somewhat similar
  to black gum but the
  fissures are much
  shallower in dogwood
Diospyros virginiana, is one of
very few species in which the
bark of young trees is broken
into squarish blocks. Its leaves
are untoothed, oval-shaped
and net-veined. Its twigs are
distinctive because they have
distinctive bundle scars.
    White Ash
Fraxinus americanus, is
one of the few species of
tree with opposite
compound leaves. The
bark varies from having
regular diamond shaped
ridges to having the
irregular fragmented
appearance of the tree
figured here. The outer
bark of ash is spongy when
pressed with the
No attempt was made here to include every
 tree. It is my hope that I have included the
  more common species. It is also my hope
  that this project will serve as incentive for
 you to adapt this program for use with your
  particular grade level. You may freely use
   the images for educational purposes. If
     you find a good use for them I would
    appreciate seeing what you have done.
    Email me at or
  better yet, stop by CHMF for a longer visit.

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