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Tree Identification by Leaf
Leaves are the most common tree feature people use to identify trees. They give tangible clues to the question; “What tree is this?” Is the leaf 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? By finding the answers to those questions you greatly improve the chances of identifying any tree. Use the information you’ve gathered to look up the name of the tree by searching though a tree guide specific to the location where the tree is growing, using a tree identification key, searching online.
Visit our image gallery: Tree Identification by Leaf
Tree Identification by Bark
Tree Bark characteristics are used when trying to identifying trees (especially deciduous trees) year round. During the winter months when 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. If you look closely, sometimes you find other clues; a fragment of an hull or seed from last year, a dried leaf or piece of fruit still hanging on to one of the stems. At times you rely on the over-all shape of the tree’s trunk, branches and twigs or the smell of the wood when you scratch the surface. There may be thorns on the tree or some distinguishing characteristic that gives you a better understanding of which species you are observing. Examine the details and take note of what you see. And, if none of these give you any better idea, you have the tree’s bark to study.
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 ages 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? Image gallery: Tree Identification by Bark
By Fruit and Seeds
Fruit 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 your 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.
Image gallery: Tree Identification by Seeds and Fruits
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.
Image gallery: Tree Identification by Flowers
By Twigs and Branches
Much in the same way bark can help you identify 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? Image gallery: Tree Identification by Branches or Twigs
by Botanical Name
What is the name of that tree?
Identifying trees commonly found in the Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.
Proper tree identification can assist us when it comes to researching possible illnesses, diseases and problems associated with a specific type of tree. Since there is only one scientific name for each species, it aids us significantly in accurately communicating with others about the tree.
That is why it may be very helpful to learn the common and the botanical or scientific name of the tree before receiving care.
Note: There is useful information within the botanical name that is not present in the common tree name, and sometimes, the common tree name may hold clues to finding out more about what type of tree it is.
The COMMON NAME of a tree can sometimes be HELPFUL OR CONFUSING when trying to find out specific information about a tree.
Two of the common tree names for *Acer negundo are *boxelder and black ash. These common tree names might be misleading, since it is neither an elder nor an ash. On the other hand, it is also commonly known as an ash leaf maple which could be helpful when identifying the tree by it’s leaf because the leaves do look more like an ash leaf than a maple leaf.
It’s scientific tree name is Acer negundo and therefore, with a quick search, we are able to identify the tree as a maple (Acer is a genus of trees we call maple). Now that we know the “universal” name we are able to communicate with others about a tree’s unique characteristics.
*AKA: Ash Maple, Ash-leaf Maple, Black Ash, Cutleaf Maple, Cut-leaved Maple, Stinking Ash, Red River Maple, California Boxelder, Sugar Ash, Three-leaved Maple, and Western Boxelder.
List of trees (includes links to descriptions and photos for many of the trees) for studying the ISA Certified Arborist exam in Colorado.
Plant Hardiness Zones for Colorado
There are many micro climates in Colorado and areas that are relatively close to one another may have different weather patterns, temperatures and hardiness zone ratings.
The plant hardiness zone for Boulder is typically 5 with some “hotspots” being in zone 6. Hardiness zones for Colorado (in general) are:
- The highest mountain areas 10,000+ are zone 3.
- Mountain and foothills area zones are 4 and 5.
- Much of the populated front range is rated as zone 5.
- Warmest areas in Colorado are zones 5-6.
- “Hotspots” such as Denver, Ft. Collins and the parts of the plains are zone 6.