A nontechnical summer key to the fifty trees

1. Leaves needle-like, awl-shaped or scale-like; usually evergreen (conifers).
2. Leaves awl-shaped or scale-like.
3. Foliage both scale-like and awl-shaped; awl-shaped foliage particularly on young growth. (42) Eastern Redcedar
3. Foliage scale-like, spray distinctly flattened and fan-like. (1) Arborvitae
2. Leaves needle-like.
4. Needles borne in clusters.
5. Needles in clusters of 2-5 (pines).

6. Needles in clusters of 5.

(39) Eastern White Pine

6. Needles in clusters of 2 or 3.

7. Needles in clusters of 3.

(40) Pitch Pine

7. Needles in clusters of 2.

(41) Red Pine

5. Needles many (more than 5) in clusters on short spur-like lateral branches; not persistent through winter; on vigorous shoots needles borne singly.

(28) American Larch

4. Needles borne singly.

8. Needles with short stems (petioles), flat, and blunt-pointed.

(22) Eastern Hemlock

8. Needles without stems (petioles).

9. Needles flat, blunt-pointed.

(20) Balsam Fir

9. Needles 4-sided in cross section, sharp-pointed (spruces).

10. Needles dark, yellowish green.

(45) Red Spruce

10. Needles bluish green or silvery white.

(46) White Spruce
1. Leaves broad, not needle-like or scale-like; not persistent through winter.

11. Arrangement of leaves opposite.

12. Leaves compound (ashes).

13. Leaflet with stems.

(3) White Ash

13. Leaflet without stems.

(2) Black Ash

12. Leaves simple (maples).

14. Leaves pale green on lower surface, clefts rounded, lobes entire or with less prominent teeth.

(33) Sugar Maple

14. Leaves white, silver or pale on lower surface, clefts sharp-angled, margins with many small teeth.

15. Leaves white or pale on lower surface, usually 3-lobed, clefts shallow and sharp-angled.

(31) Red Maple

15. Leaves silvery white on lower surface, usually 5-lobed, clefts deep (particularly the middle two).

(32) Silver Maple

11. Arrangement of leaves alternate.

16. Leaves compound.

17. Leaves doubly compound, leaflets usually even in number.

(30) Honey-Locust

17. Leaves only once compound.

18. Margins of leaflets entire; leaflets almost oval in shape.

(29) Black Locust

18. Margins of leaflets toothed.

19. Leaflets 11-23 (walnuts).

20. Base of leaf stem with a "mustache" of hairs where it joins the twig.

(12) Butternut

20. Base of leaf stem lacking a "mustache" of hairs where it joins the twig.

(49) Black Walnut

19. Leaflets 5-11 (hickories).

21. Leaflets 7-11, long narrow, sharp-pointed.

(23) Bitternut Hickory

21. Leaflets 5-7.

22. Upper 3 leaflets larger.

(25) Shagbark Hickory

22. Leaflets of nearly the same size.

(24) Pignut Hickory

16. Leaves simple.

23. Leaves lobed.

24. Leaves palmately lobed.

25. Margins of the 3-5 shallow lobes sparsely toothed.

(47) Sycamore

25. Margins of lobes entire.

26. Leaves 2-3 lobed or entire, with aromatic odor when crushed; apex of lobes or leaf rather sharp-pointed.

(43) Sassafras

26. Leaves 3-4 lobed, the apex truncate.

(48) Tulip Tree

24. Leaves pinnately lobed.

27. Twigs with thorns.

(21) Hawthorn

27. Twigs lacking thorns.

28. Lobes rounded, not bristle-tipped.

29. Clefts halfway to midrib; leaves dark green above, paler below.

(38) White Oak

29. Clefts very shallow, the leaf appearing coarsely toothed.

(35) Chestnut Oak

28. Lobes with bristle tips.

30. Leaves dull green on upper side, hairy along midrib below.

(34) Black Oak

30. Leaves shiny, smooth on upper surface.

31. Clefts extending halfway to midrib.

(36) Northern Red Oak

31. Clefts extending over halfway to midrib.

(37) Scarlet Oak

23. Leaves not lobed or deeply cut.

32. Leaves entire.

33. Leaves ovate or egg-shaped (when not lobed), with aromatic odor when crushed.

(43) Sassafras

33. Leaves ovate (egg-shaped), lacking aromatic odor.

(17) Cucumber Tree

32. Leaves toothed.

34. Leaves doubly serrate.

35. Leaves triangular, with long tip.

(9) Gray Birch

35. Leaves ovate (egg-shaped).

36. Base of leaves oblique (elms).

37. Leaf surface very rough above and below.

(19) Slippery Elm

37. Leaf surface less rough, particularly above.

(18) American Elm

36. Base of leaves even, regular, not oblique.

38. Twigs with wintergreen flavor.

39. Bark on trunk black, not peeling off in papery layers.

(8) Black Birch

39. Bark on trunk yellowish, peeling off in papery layers.

(11) Yellow Birch

38. Twigs lacking wintergreen flavor.

40. Bark scaly, scales easily rubbed off.

(26) American Hophornbeam

40. Bark smooth.

41. Bark light gray, firm.

(27) American Hornbeam

41. Bark white, in papery layers.

(10) Paper Birch

34. Leaves coarsely toothed or serrate, not doubly serrate.

42. Leaves linear or lanceolate.

43. Leaves linear.

(50) Black Willow

43. Leaves lanceolate.

44. Leaves coarsely toothed.

(15) American Chestnut

44. Leaves finely toothed, serrate.

45. Leaves broadly lanceolate, with tufts of reddish hairs along midrib on lower surface.

(13) Black Cherry

45. Leaves narrowly lanceolate, lacking hairs along midrib.

(14) Pin Cherry

42. Leaves triangular, heart-shaped or ovate.

46. Leaves heart-shaped or triangular.

47. Leaves heart-shaped, nearly orbicular, the teeth many and small.

(6) Basswood

47. Leaves triangular, the teeth few and large.

48. Leaves large, blunt-tipped.

(4) Bigtooth Aspen

48. Leaves small.

49. Leaf base rounded.

(5) Quaking Aspen

49. Leaf base square.

(16) Eastern Cottonwood

46. Leaves ovate.

50. Leaves coarsely toothed, nearly lobed.

51. Leaves with teeth rounded, not bristle-tipped.

(35) Chestnut Oak

51. Leaves with teeth sharp, bristle-tipped.

(7) American Beech

50. Leaves serrate.

52. Leaves finely-serrate; twigs lacking thorns.

(44) Shadbush

52. Leaves coarsely serrate; twigs with thorns.

(21) Hawthorn

[introduction] [the keys] [list of 50 trees] [making a tree collection]
[back to the homepage]