Tree identification basics
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Tree Identification Basics. Broad Classification Scheme. Annual, Biennial, or Perennial?. Marigold – Tagetes erecta. Marigold is an annual plant. Biennial. A species that completes it’s life cycle in 2 growing seasons. White Oak – Quercus alba. An oak tree is a perennial plant.

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Tree identification basics

Tree Identification Basics

Marigold tagetes erecta
Marigold – Tageteserecta

  • Marigold is an annual plant.


  • A species that completes it’s life cycle in 2 growing seasons.

White oak quercus alba
White Oak – Quercus alba

  • An oak tree is a perennial plant.

Daylily hemerocallis
Daylily - Hemerocallis

  • A daylily is an example of a herbaceous, perennial plant.

Burning bush euonymus alatus
Burning Bush – Euonymus alatus

  • Burning Bush is an example of a woody, perennial plant.

Sugar maple acer saccharum
Sugar Maple – Acer saccharum

  • Sugar Maple is a deciduous, woody perennial plant.

Norway spruce picea abies
Norway Spruce – Piceaabies

  • Norway Spruce is a coniferous evergreen, perennial plant.

Holly ilex
Holly - Ilex

  • Holly is a broad-leaf evergreen, perennial plant.

Ilex meserveae 'Blue Angel'

Deciduous conifers yep
Deciduous Conifers? – Yep!

Eastern larch

Bald cypress

Basic leaf types
Basic Leaf Types

  • Simple

  • Compound

    • Pinnately compound

    • Bipinnately compound

    • Palmately compound

  • Scale-like

  • Needle-like

Pinnately compound leaf
Pinnately Compound Leaf

Bipinnately compound leaf
Bipinnately Compound Leaf

Palmately compound
Palmately Compound



  • Leaf type?

  • Leaf shape?

  • Leaf margin?

  • Leaf arrangement?

  • Leaf type?

  • Leaf shape?

  • Leaf margin?

  • Leaf arrangement?

  • Leaf type?

  • Leaf shape?

  • Leaf margin?

  • Leaf arrangement?

  • Leaf type?

  • Leaf shape?

  • Leaf margin?

  • Leaf arrangement?

  • Leaf type?

  • Leaf shape?

  • Leaf margin?

  • Leaf arrangement?

3 basic bud types
3 Basic Bud Types

  • Vegetative

  • Flower

  • Mixed

Flowering dogwood cornus florida
Flowering Dogwood – Cornusflorida

Flower bud

Vegetative bud

Pagoda dogwood cornus alternifolia
Pagoda Dogwood – Cornusalternifolia

Mixed bud

Buds with scales vs naked buds
Buds with scales vs. naked buds

Paper birch



  • I would advise against doing a Google image search using the key words “naked buds”.

Terminal bud
Terminal Bud

Bitternut hickory

Common lilac

Lateral buds
Lateral Buds




Leaf scars
Leaf Scars

Black walnut

Northern catalpa

Green ash




Vascular bundle scars
Vascular Bundle Scars

Ohio buckeye


Bud Scale



White poplar

Paperbark cherry


Tree-of -heaven


Black walnut



Kentucky Coffeetree

Time to test your skills1
Time to test your skills…

  • Take a look at the twig image and answer the following:

  • What’s the leaf arrangement?

  • Does your twig have a terminal bud? Lateral buds?

  • Can you find any leaf scars? Vascular bundle scars?

  • Can you find any lenticels?

  • Can you find the most recent set of terminal bud scale scars?

  • Do you even care anymore?

  • Do you have a headache?

White ash
White ash

White ash

Common botanical names
Common & Botanical Names

  • Plants have 2 different names:

    • Common Name

    • Botanical or Scientific Name

Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum

  • Acer saccharum

    • Acer = genus

    • saccharum= specific epithet

    • genus + specific epithet = the “binomial” that identifies a species

  • Gymnocladusdioicus

    • What’s the name of the genus?

    • What’s the name of the specific epithet?

    • What’s the name of the species?

  • Acer saccharum‘Autumn Splendor’

    • ‘Autumn Splendor’ is a cultivar name

    • cultivars, generally speaking, do not come true-to-type from seed.

  • A species may have several cultivars or none at all:

  • Acer saccharum‘Arrowhead’

  • Acer saccharum‘Cary’

  • Acer saccharum‘Millane’s Dwarf’

  • Acer saccharum‘Seneca Chief’, etc…



inermisis a variety name. Varieties come true-to-type from seed.

Acer saccharumLegacy®

Legacy® is a registered trademark (PP 4,979). Legacy® is registered with the Office of Trademarks and Patents in Washington, DC.

Acer saccharumOregon TrailTM

Oregon TrailTM is a trademarked plant. The TM protects the commercial application of that name to said plant.