Tree Identification by Bark, Leaf, Flowers – Colorado Rocky Mountains

Tree Identification by Leaf


Leaves give tangible clues to the question; “What kind of tree is this?” Is the leaf’s margin serrate or entire? Is it simple or compound? How wide and long are they? Are the leaves broad, flat leaves or do the look needle-like? What color are they? Do they have tiny hairs on the undersides? Rough or soft, shiny or dull? Do they have lobes? If so, how many and how deep are they? Are the leaves opposite on the stem from one another, are they alternately arranged or whorled on the stem? Use the information you’ve gathered to look up the name of the tree by searching though either a tree guide specific to the location where the tree is growing or by using a tree identification key.

Tree Identification by Bark

Tree Identification by BarkTree Bark characteristics are used when trying to identifying trees, especially deciduous trees, year round. During the winter months after leaves have often blown away (although there are trees that hold onto their leaves until spring), buds may be dormant and hard to identify and the fruit, seeds and flowers might be long gone.

Study the texture, patterns and colors and notice if the bark is furrowed, smooth, peeling, flaking or take note of any other unique features. Are there large squares or chunky course pieces of aged grey bark falling away and revealing smooth bark? Is it thick or thin? Are there diamond patterns, does it look shaggy or fleshy? Is it orange, brown, grey or multiple colors?

Tree Identification By Flower

Tree Identification by Flowers

Flowers are a fantastic way of discovering what type of tree your studying. The challenging thing may be that they are often only present for such a short time of the year and on large trees they can difficult to obtain. There are many different types of tree flowers and by finding out more about the way tree flowers are arranged (commonly used descriptions) will help you to ask the right questions. For example; maple flowers are often referred to as racemes and if you have a silver maple flower and you use the words drooping racemes to describe your flowers you will narrow down the options rather quickly.

Identifying Fruits and Seeds

Tree Identification by Fruit and SeedsFruit is a very distinguishing tree characteristic. But, can you tell the difference between seven different kinds of apples or three different winged samaras just by looking at them? While describing the fruit you see may not tell you all you need to know to figure out what the species the tree is it sure does point you in the right direction. If you have the fruit with the bark and the leaf, it’s likely it won’t take long to find what type of tree it is.

By Twigs and Branches

Tree Identification by Branches and TwigsMuch in the same way bark can help you identify a tree, twigs and branches are useful in identifying a deciduous trees during the winter months. Are the branches in an alternate or opposite arrangement? Notice the leaf scars. Are they big or small? Are they concave or more convex? Do you see a terminal bud or is it absent?

 List of Botanical (scientific) Tree Names

Common Tree Names




  • Idaho Flowering Locust
  • Japanese Pagodatree
  • Kentucky Coffeetree
  • Limber Pine
  • Littleleaf Linden
  • Lodgepole Pine
  • Lombardy Poplar
  • London Plane





Examine the details. A fragment of a hull or seed from last year, a dried leaf or piece of fruit hanging to a stem. We may rely on the over-all shape of the tree, branches and twigs or the smell of the wood. There may be thorns on the tree or other characteristics that give us a better understanding of which species we’re observing.

 by Leaf  by Bark  by Flowers  by Seeds & Fruits  by Shape  by Twigs

Proper tree identification can assist us when it comes to researching possible illnesses, diseases and problems associated with a specific type of tree.