I have never paid much attention to trees. To me, a tree was always just a tree, with exception of the few obvious ones (Pine, weeping willow…etc). Recently, I have begun learning about different types of trees. I never knew that some trees had hard wood, some had soft, others have different colors and textures. So for others out there like me, I wanted to make an identification chart, to help us learn about the trees that are most common in our area! The easiest way to identify a tree is by its leaves, and sometimes its bark. Some trees are easier to identify than others. Below is the easiest of trees to identify. Keep in mind, there are many more trees around us, but for now, we’ll stick to the easiest ones!
American Beech Tree – Found in moist, well drained areas. The bark is smooth and grey.
Black Walnut – Has a rough dark bark, that has a distinct odor when cut. The black walnut can be found inside the fruit of the tree (side note: wear gloves it WILL dye your skin, I speak from experience).
Eastern Red Cedar – Is an evergreen with scale type leaves. The bark is thin and a silver/brown color and will peel or shred off in thin strips. If the tree is pierced, it will give off a distinct cedar smell.
Flowering Dogwood – A smaller tree that rarely grows over 20 feet. The trunk is often crooked with tan or dark brown bark. The bark consists of small, four sided scaly blocks. In the spring the dogwood has white flowers. In the fall the leaves turn red and also has red berries.
Hackberry – Medium/large sized tree with smooth grey bark, that has warts. The leaves have a coarse texture and produce small fruit that turn orange/red/dark purple in the autumn.
Hemlock – It is an Evergreen with it’s lower limbs drooping downward. Hemlock will mostly grow in moist and well drained areas.
Sycamore – The trunk and limbs randomly shed light tan bark, exposing the smooth greenish/white underneath. It is a large tree that can grow upward of 100 ft. Also, the leaves grow sticky, green buds but the branch does not form such buds.
Hickory – The shagbark Hickory is normally found in dry, well drained areas. It has a grey, hard bark that is almost shiny, and it peels and hangs in long, tough strips that is hard to break. Shellbark hickory is similar but is found in wet areas.
Sugar Maple – Often has burned looking (black) areas on the bottom of the trunk. Also tends to have side curling bark which is hard to break off and extremely tough. In the autumn the leaves turn different shades of red, orange and yellow.
Sweet Gum – Has a light grey, rough, cork like bark. It produces a spiky fruit about the size of a golf ball. These are sometimes called, sweet gum balls. Often found in warm, temperate areas.
Winged Elm – Has ridges growing along its trunk and branches that resemble wings. It commonly is found in rocky, dry soil. Other Elms found in this region are American Elm and Slippery Elm. Both are more difficult to identify (they do not have the wings like the Winged Elm). You can identify an American Elm because it will have a series of white lines when you break the bark. When you cut the bark of a Slippery Elm, you will see a red color with no white lines.
Yellow Poplar – (aka Tulip Poplar due to the flowers it produces). Small trees have a smooth grey bark that gets rougher and more brown, as the tree gets larger. It also has a white chalk like dust inside the crevices of the bark. The tulip like flowers can be found in the Springtime, around May.