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Proper tree identification

is the first step to understanding
and managing our forests.

PB1756
The All Season Pocket Guide To

TREE BARK IDENTIFICATION

white oak

yellow-poplar

Identifying Common
Tennessee Trees

black walnut

PB1756-10M-6/05
R12-4910-053-001-05
Programs in agriculture and natural resources,
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and resource development.
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture,
U.S. Department of Agriculture
and county governments cooperating.
UT Extension provides equal opportunities
in programs and employment.

SUMMER/WINTER
TREE IDENTIFICATION

Tree Characteristics

INDEX
Subject
Preface - Useful Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Poison Ivy Warning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tennessee Terrain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summer Leaf Key Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summer Leaf Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Winter Identification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Easy-to-Identify Trees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trees of Medium Difficulty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trees That Require Close Examination . . . . . . . . .
Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tree Names, Common and Scientific . . . . . . . . . .
Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Winter Identification Quick Reference Guide . . . .

Page
i
1
2
4
5
24
25
39
53
61
61
62
64
66

(Evergreen trees)
Pine tree with soft lacy appearance with filtered light through
needles, dead limbs retained on trunk:
Virginia pine
Pine tree with round needle balls at twig end:
loblolly pine
Pine tree with needles seeming to rest on top of the branches:
shortleaf pine
Thick crown of tiny, prickly, evergreen scale-like needles:
eastern redcedar
Layered branches filled with flat, blunt-tipped needles with blue/white
stripes along bottom, needles lay flat along edges of the twig:
eastern hemlock
Layered branches filled with flat, blunt-tipped needles with blue/white
stripes along bottom, needles point in all directions:
Carolina hemlock

Visit the University of Tennessee Extension Web site
at http://www.utextension.utk.edu
Visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture,
Forestry Division Web site at
http://www.state.tn.us/agriculture/forestry/index.html

67

5, 51
5, 45
5, 47
5, 29

6, 32

6, 32

Winter Identification Quick Reference Guide
Bark Characteristics
The All Season Pocket Guide To
Smooth, mouse gray with warts:

hackberry 20, 31
or sugarberry 20, 31
Smooth, mouse gray, no large warts: American beech 16, 26
Peeling, thin tan bark revealing large, smooth, pale
blue-green/silver gray patches:
sycamore 14, 34
Thorns on tree trunk and limbs:
locust 23, 33
Chocolate brown inner bark, no white rings:
black walnut 23, 28
Reddish brown inner bark with white lines:
American elm 19, 40
Light cream to tan inner bark:
ash 10, 27
Pale orange inner bark with root beer smell: sassafras 13, 59
Bright yellow/orange, bitter tasting inner bark, no smell:
black oak 15, 54
Long strips of hard, armor-like bark peeling from top and
bottom or from bottom up, (on dry site):
shagbark hickory 22, 35
Long strips of hard, armor-like bark peeling from top and
bottom or from bottom up, holding leaf stems
(on wet site):
shellbark hickory 22, 35
Hard, tough to break, gray to black bark peels from side
in long ridges:
sugar maple 9, 58
Soft, easily broken light gray bark may peel from side
in long ridges:
white oak 12, 52
Silver-white chalk dust in bark cracks: yellow-poplar 14, 38
Variable bark with pimples on smooth sections:
red maple 8, 58

Limb Characteristics
Wide silver streaks on top of bark plates, pruned cleanly
no sap smell: northern red oak
Wide silver streaks on top of bark plates, retained dead
branches, sap has pungent smell:
scarlet oak
Pine tree with resin pockets on bark:
shortleaf pine
Long green twigs: boxelder …10, 43 or
sassafras
Branches grow from trunk in spaced sets of wagon
wheel whorls:
white pine
Corky ridges on small branches:
winged elm
or: sweetgum

15, 57
15, 46
5, 47
13, 59
6, 36
20, 37
16, 50

Identifying Common
Tennessee Trees

Written by:
Michael D. Williams
Area Forester
Tennessee Division of Forestry
Edited by:
Wayne K. Clatterbuck
Associate Professor
University of Tennessee
Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
Photographs by:
Russ Cox
Nathan Waters
Mike Williams
Illustrations taken from:
Common Forest Trees of Tennessee
10th edition 1965, (used by permission)
or drawn by Mike Williams

2005
66

then go to the Internet or other ID books to make the identification. thinnest and smoothest on the branch tips. taste or feel that helps in identification. supplemental identification clues can be gathered from the leaves. thickest and roughest at the base of the tree trunk and youngest. State. Use all of your senses. Get ready for variability! Tree leaves may vary in size on the same tree. Always remember that these items may have come from a neighboring tree. Some trees may have a unique smell. 3. pack or cruiser’s jacket. Even the best professional foresters occasionally have trouble identifying trees. Enjoy! USEFUL TIPS 1. There is usually a slow transition in bark pattern and thickness between the two points. 8. 6. Leaves growing in the shade are often much larger than leaves exposed to full sun. It is designed to go to the woods with you (where it is needed) by comfortably riding in your back pocket. twigs and fruit lying on the ground under the tree. Notes _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ Be all that you can be! 65 i . Relax and have fun. Some trees may have more than one leaf shape growing on the same tree. Tree bark is oldest.PREFACE This booklet was prepared by professional foresters to help you identify Tennessee’s most common trees. 7. To identify trees not listed in this book. collect or photograph samples that include several leaves and buds. 4. If necessary. university and USDA Forest Service Web pages are usually the best Internet tree identification sites. 2. Leaves are not present on many trees at least half of the year. 5. Learn bark characteristics and tree shape as quickly as possible.

Virginia creeper has five leaflet cluster leaves and is often wrongly called poison oak. The vine may climb 20 feet or more up the tree. Climbing poison ivy vines are dark gray-brown. Poison ivy leaves are attached to the branch in clusters of three leaflets. When it climbs a tree it sometimes becomes so large and thick that it can be misidentified as being part of the tree. foliage vine climbing tree Contact with almost any part of the plant any time of year can cause the skin to break out in a severe. Virginia creeper is also a common vine that climbs forest trees. itchy rash. The many closely spaced branches of the vine may reach out 3 feet or more from the tree. Avoidance is the best protection. have a large tooth-shaped lobe on one side. Leaflets average 3−5” long and 2−4” wide.Notes _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ 64 Poison Ivy Alert POISON IVY− Poison ivy is a common forest vine that grows along the ground and often climbs trees. or have one large tooth-shaped lobe on each side. 1 . and closely attached to the supporting tree. It is harmless. very “hairy” looking. They may be toothless. but human contact does not normally cause a rash.

. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . Almost all trees like to grow in the deep. . . . . . . . dry ridge tops and warmer. Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) . . . . . . . River birch (Betula nigra) . . . . . . White oak (Quercus alba) . Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) . . . . . . . Shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) . . most trees prefer to grow in places that suit their particular needs. Pin oak (Quercus palustris) . . Knowing which trees are most likely to be encountered in different parts of Tennessee and on given sites can help speed up proper identification. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . some in moist. . . . . . Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) . . . . . well-drained soils of flat to easy rolling land. . Water oak (Quercus nigra) . . . . some grow in wet places. . . Overcup oak (Quercus stellata) . . . . . . . . . . . Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tennessee Terrain Common and Scientific Names For Trees Listed in This Booklet Some trees can be found growing on many different sites. . . . . Willow oak (Quercus phellos) . . . . . . . Southern red oak (Quercus falcata) . . Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) . . Red mulberry (Morus rubra) . . Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cherrybark oak (Quercus pagoda) . . . . . . . Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) . . . . . . . . White pine (Pinus strobus) . . . . . Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) . . . . . . . . . . . . south-facing slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trees Likely to Be Found Growing On Well-Drained Land ash black oak bur oak hackberry pecan river birch shingle oak sourwood sugarberry white oak beech black walnut cottonwood hickory persimmon sassafras shortleaf pine southern red oak swamp white oak white pine black cherry blackgum flowering dogwood locust red maple scarlet oak southern red oak sugar maple Virginia pine Trees Likely to Be Found Growing In Swampy Areas and Beside Streams ash boxelder hemlock overcup oak red maple swamp chestnut oak silver maple willow oak baldcypress cherrybark oak mulberry pin oak river birch swamp white oak sycamore yellow-poplar 2 beech cottonwood Nuttall oak red buckeye Shumard oak sweetgum water oak Name Oak (Quercus) Black oak (Quercus velutina) . . . . 63 Pages 15 15 12 15 12 12 15 15 12 15 12 15 15 15 15 12 12 15 12 15 21 5 5 5 6 13 21 13 22 20 16 14 14 54 44 57 46 60 54 52 45 47 51 36 59 48 31 50 34 38 . . Yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) . . . . But. . . . . . . . . . . Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) . . . . But. . Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pine (Pinus) Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) . . Check the following guides to find the trees most likely to be encountered on any given site in Tennessee. . well-drained coves. . . . . . . . Swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii) . hollows or north-facing slopes. . . .. . . Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) . . Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) . . . . . . . . Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) . . and some on hot. Post oak (Quercus stellata) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) . . . . . . . . . Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) . . . . . . . . . . Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) . .

. . . . . Middle Slopes ash blackjack oak eastern redcedar loblolly pine red maple sourwood Virginia pine black oak chestnut oak hackberry locust scarlet oak southern red oak white oak blackgum chinkapin oak hickory post oak shortleaf pine sugarberry Trees Likely to Be Found Growing on Dry Ridge Tops ash chestnut oak loblolly pine scarlet oak Virginia pine black oak eastern redcedar post oak shortleaf pine 49 3 blackjack oak hickory red maple southern red oak . . . . . . . . Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) . . Locust (Robinia) Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) . . . . . Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) . . . . . . . . Hemlock (Tsuga) Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) . . . . . . . Mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa) . . . . . . Black walnut (Juglans nigra) . . . . . . . . Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) . . . . . . . . . Boxelder (Acer negundo) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) . . . . . . . . . . . Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) . Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) . . South-Facing. . . . . . . . . Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) . . . . . . . . Winged elm (Ulmus alata) . . . Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) . . Buckeye (Aesculus) Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maple (Acer) Red maple (Acer rubrum) . . . . . . . . . . . Hickory (Carya) Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) . . 62 Trees Likely to Be Found Growing in Deep. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia). . Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) . . . . . . . . . Ash (Fraxinus) Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) . Name American beech (Fagus grandifolia) . . . . . . . . . . .Common and Scientific Names For Trees Listed in this Booklet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) . . . . . . . . . White ash (Fraxinus americana) . . . Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) . . . . . . . . Elm (Ulmus) American elm (Ulmus americana) . Yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra . . . . . Shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa) . . . . . . . . . . . . . Black cherry (Prunus serotina) . . . . . . Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) . . . . . . . . . . Pignut hickory (Carya glabra) . . . . . . . . Basswood. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Well-Drained Coves Pages 16 26 10 10 17 6 17 23 18 10 27 27 41 42 28 55 43 11 11 11 18 5 29 19 19 20 8 20 40 40 37 30 31 6 6 32 32 22 22 22 22 22 56 56 56 35 35 23 23 33 33 8 9 9 58 ash black oak chinkapin oak hickory scarlet oak white pine beech black walnut elm northern red oak shortleaf pine yellow-poplar black cherry blackgum hemlock red maple Shumard oak Trees Likely to Be Found Growing on Dry. . American (Tilia americana) . . . .

Common and Scientific Tree Names . 8. . Opposite growth pattern − Twigs and/or leaves are attached to the limb directly across from one another. 1. Simple leaf Needle leaf 4 Acknowledgements . . 5. . Notes . . . Doug McLaren. Toothed margin − Coarse to fine-toothed edges. Page 61 62 64 66 Acknowledgements: This booklet is a joint production of the Department of Agriculture. Compound leaf − A leaf that has two or more leaflets attached to a central leaf stem that is in turn attached to the tree limb. . . Leaf sinus − The dip in the leaf between the lobes. . . . . 2. David Mercker and Scott Schlarbaum for their critical reviews. . . . . and Wanda Russell for her editing skills. A special thank you is given to Wayne Clatterbuck for producing the book. . . . . . Lobe spikes − Needle-like point sticking out at the end of each lobe. Compound leaf 61 . . . . . 3. . Forestry Division and University of Tennessee Extension. . . 6. . . . thin leaf shaped like a sewing needle. . . . 9. . . . 4. . . . . Winter ID Quick Reference Guide . . . . . . Bristle tip − The portion of the leaf that projects out from the central leaf like a finger on a hand. Simple leaf − A leaf that has only one leaflet attached to the tree limb. Needle − Long. . Funding for the initial printing was provided by a grant from the USDA Forest Service. .Summer Leaf Key APPENDIX Definitions Needed to Understand Tree Key The following terms need to be understood to use the tree guide. . . . . . 7. . . . . . Alternate growth pattern − twigs and/or leaves are attached to the limb in a zigzag pattern where the attachments on either side are not directly across from one another.

Bark patterns vary from long. 51) loblolly pine shortleaf pine Virginia pine three needles 6−9” long two and three needles 3−5” long two twisted needles 1½ −3” long Mature leaves are usually 5−7” long and dark green. All lobes are bristle-tipped. This bark is hard and rough-textured. The hard bark is very rough but thin (less than ⅜” thick). well-pruned trunk with a slight swell at the base and good form up to strong. southern yellow pines (pages 45. baldcypress 1a . 47. white pine. 60 5 . eastern redcedar (page 29) 1b . well-spaced limbs at the top.Southern red oak is one of Tennessee’s most common trees. short. rough-topped ridges and shallow valleys to clusters of plastered wet corn flakes. Leaves may also have smaller additional side lobes. sometimes with cream-colored.Needles growing in bundles with two to three needles in each bundle. The inner bark is various shades of brown. lichens growing on the bark often give the tree a greenish look. It usually has a round.Very small blue-green scale-like leaves growing on all four sides in tight aromatic prickly top. Bark color varies from light gray to black. The long central lobe and two shorter opposite-side lobes often give leaf a “turkey foot” look. southern yellow pines. flat and mostly deciduous (go to 2) 1 Needle-Like or Scale-Like Leaves eastern redcedar. trunk upward view bark Leaf Key to Trees Common in Tennessee Leaves are needle-like or scale-like (go to 1) Leaves are broad. When present. giving the illusion of its being compressed and glued to the tree. fine lines and flecks present. hemlocks. Red Oak SOUTHERN RED OAK.Trees That Require Close Examination – S.

Limbs are clustered and twisted into an unkempt-looking top.1c .Needles are lime green to yellow-green ½−¾” long.. flexible. Needles turn dull red and drop in fall. 3 − 5” and growing in bundles of five. leaving stubby pegs on the branch. giving the lobed leaves the look of mittens. eastern white pine (page 36) Trees That Require Close Examination – Sassafras SASSAFRAS – Sassafras has thick. including black walnut. baldcypress (page 41) Sassafras may have a mixture of 3−5” long leaves with no lobes. Slicing off the surface of the bark will reveal a pale orange inner bark. Twigs are bright green and brittle. growing feather-like in two rows along lateral branches. 6 59 . Edges of the leaves are smooth. Dark grayblack bark. bark leaves 1d . Needles lay flat (eastern).Flat needles are ½−¾” long with blunt ends. limbs growing from trunk at distinct intervals in whorls.Soft. along the bottom of each leaf. Two parallel pale blue lines often present. Smelling the fresh-cut slice will usually be rewarded with the distinctive sassafras smell that resembles the smell of root beer. Needles stick out in all directions (Carolina). two lobes or three lobes. hemlocks (page 32) eastern hemlock Carolina hemlock 1e . Each needle has white lines along the length of the bottom edge. Needles stand on small pegs. blue-green needles. rough reddish-brown to weathered silver bark that often causes it to be confused with other trees. all growing on the same limb.

twig. 7 . Leaves. bark characteristics 2 Leaves That Are Broad and Flat 2a. buds and branches that have alternate arrangements with compound leaves (go to D). The crotch between trunk and limbs on red maple is usually narrow. grayish-brown.Trees That Require Close Examination – Red Maple RED MAPLE – Red maple is a challenge to identify because of the way it changes characteristics as it gets larger. Slender young branch tips are often bright red. While this bark is in transition and smooth patches of bark are still present. Leaves. 2b. buds and branches that have opposite arrangement with simple leaves (go to A). buds and branches that have opposite arrangement with compound leaves (go to B). As it gets larger it develops a thicker. leaf. The sinuses between each lobe form a sharp V-notch. Leaves are 2½−4” in length and width with wide but jagged edges along the lobes. light gray bark when it is small. 58 2d. very small pimples can usually be found scattered over the smooth surface. fruit 2c. Full-grown trees may have flaky bark all the way up into the limbs. buds and branches that have alternate arrangement with simple leaves (go to C). This tree has slick. Leaves. Usually there are three large lobes and sometimes two smaller ones. Leaves. flaky bark that is heaviest at the base and becomes smoother up the trunk.

3−5” long and 2−3” wide with smooth but wavy outer edges. often silver-topped plates of bark. 57 . and better-formed tree with odorless sap. slightly concave. wellspread limbs and dark gray bark that has long fissures lying up and down the tree between long.A Opposite Arrangement Simple Leaves flowering dogwood. wide. flowering dogwood (page 30) Trees That Require Close Examination – N. Looking up into the tree will usually reveal long. paler below. alternate. red maple (page 58) 8 Leaves are simple. often turning a brilliant red after frost. 5−9” long and 3−5” wide. cleanly pruned tree. It has strong. The sinuses between each lobe forms a sharp V notch. Usually there are three large lobes and sometimes two more smaller lobes. Red Oak NORTHERN RED OAK – Northern red oak often grows to be a very large. each lobe being somewhat coarsely toothed. broader toward the tip. The veins make pronounced sweeping upward curves from the center line of the leaf to the outside edge. sugar maple. red maple. divided into seven to nine lobes. Northern red oak can be confused with scarlet oak. wide. bristle-tipped and firm. silver streaks along the tops of the bark plates on the trunk and major branches. well-pruned. dull green above. but northern red oak is usually a larger. silver topped bark upward view A-2 Smooth leaves with red petiole are 2½−4” in length and width with toothed edges along the lobes. silver maple A-1 Dark green leaves are football-shaped.

twigs A-3 Smooth leaves are 3−5” long and wide with smooth edges along five main lobes that have pointed tips. 56 9 . deeply-lobed. ranging from tight and “glued on” criss-crossed XX bark furrows to a rougher bark that makes long. The leaf is 8−14” long with from five to nine fine-toothed leaflets that are usually yellow-green on top and paler on the bottom. The ridges often crack into sections with cross cracks running horizontal to the tree. stronger limbs. leaves. Branch ends are short and wavy. Distinguishing characteristics include tight.Trees That Require Close Examination − Hickory HICKORY – The tight-barked members of the hickory group can be very difficult to recognize in the winter. Leaflets come off a central leaf stem at intervals along the side and off the end of the stem. Smaller trees in the understory will have short limbs growing at right angles to the tree trunk. Taller trees still competing in the overstory for light may have limbs that fork upward with longer. with large marginal teeth. There may be a splattering of small silver flecks scattered up and down the bark. sugar maple (page 49) bark A-4 Leaves are 5−7” long and. tree trunk fruit. silver maple The compound leaves have an alternate arrangement. silvery beneath. The bark is very tough and often feels like steel armor. gray bark. rough ridges and valleys up and down the tree. Deep U-shaped sinuses between lobes.

The lower branches of younger trees will often droop dramatically. ash (page 27) green ash white ash Trees That Require Close Examination − Blackgum BLACKGUM − The silver-gray to almost black bark of larger blackgums often so closely resembles oak or elm that at first glance the tree may be misidentified.B Opposite Arrangement Compound Leaves ash. 2−5” long and 1½−3” wide. especially if the tree is exposed to enough sunlight to encourage side growth. The edges are almost always smooth. slender and often green. Twigs are long. then rounding down to the tip on the end of the leaf. boxelder. Edges are toothed. boxelder (page 43) The leaves are simple. narrow. with some jutting out to the side like pointed thumbs. lustrous green. protruding tip on the end. Green ash has a prominent bud nestled in the crotch between the twig and leaf. Shape varies from broadly oval to narrow at the base. Most leaves have a short. buckeye B-1 8−12” leaves have three to seven. gently flaring out to a maximum width at a point approximately two-thirds of the way toward the end of the leaf. White ash has a small bud that is buried in the crotch and not readily visible to the naked eye. Twigs ends look large and blunt. 10 55 . relatively short. 1½−4” long leaflets growing along the sides and on the end of the leaf stalk. leaves bark B-2 Leaves are 8−12” long and have 2−4” leaflets that have several shapes. often twisted branches growing out of the tree trunk at 90-degree angles. Healthy leaves are a deep. Looking up will reveal a crown filled with unusually small. dark.

rough and dark charcoal gray. The bark of both trees is very tight. Edges may be both fine and coarse-toothed. Leaflets are bright green on top and yellow on the bottom. the tree is either yellow or red buckeye. Black oak will have bright orange to yellow. Shumard oak’s inner bark is a medium brown. tough. black oak bark black oak leaf B-3 Five leaflets that fan out like spread fingers from the same point at the end of the leaf petiole. very bittertasting inner bark. the tree is Ohio buckeye. Shumard Oak BLACK OAK – Black oak and Shumard oak are members of the red oak group. with balanced sets of stronglooking limbs in their tops. Their bark and form are so close in characteristics they have to be separated by cutting a small hole in the bark crevasse to expose the inner bark. Red buckeye is shrubsized with rounded shape and root sprouts forming clumps of new trees. Yellow buckeye grows to be a large tree and is not usually found in clumps.Trees That Require Close Examination – Black Oak. If the crushed leaf or stem has a foul odor. These oaks are often the largest trees in the forest. buckeye tree trunk Shumard oak leaf 54 11 . If the crushed leaf or stem has no odor.

. . . . . . . . . . . Southern red oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52) Trees That Require Close Examination Name Black oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . upland white oaks white oak chinkapin oak overcup oak swamp white oak post oak chestnut oak swamp chestnut oak bur oak lowland white oaks 12 Ozone Falls (Cumberland County) 53 Page 54 55 56 57 58 59 54 60 . . . . . white oaks (pages 44. . with the main leaf vein ending at the center of the center tooth or leaf lobe. . . . . . . Shumard oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Red maple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The outside edge of the leaf is smooth. . . . . . . . . . . while veins to the other teeth or lobes are at different places along the central vein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . varying in size and shape but almost always have the same number of rounded lobes or blunt teeth on each side of the leaf. . . . . . . . . . . . Alternate Arrangement Simple Leaves Leaves have rounded lobes (go to C-1) Leaves have pointed lobes (go to C-2) Leaves have no lobes (go to C-3) C-1 Leaves have rounded lobes white oaks. sassafras C-1a Leaves are tough. Northern red oak . . . . . . . . Blackgum . . . Hickory . . . . . . . . . Sassafras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

52 C-2a Trees may have mixture of 3−5” long. Crushed leaves have distinct orange peel fragrance.Trees of Medium Difficulty − White Oak WHITE OAK – White oak has one of the lightest-colored barks in Tennessee’s forests. White oaks are often among the largest trees in the forest. yellow-poplar. bark C-1b Tree may have a mixture of 3−5” leaves having no lobes. They have large. The edges of the leaves are rough and jagged toothed. They are deeply divided into five to nine rounded. It typically is very light gray with a texture that varies from medium rough and tight bark to long strips cracking loose and sometimes peeling from the side. two lobes or three lobes all growing together in the crown. The bark feels soft to the touch and crumbles off the tree when rubbed. red mulberry 13 . roughtextured leaves with some leaves having no lobes. giving the lobed leaves the look of mittens. sweetgum. sycamore. strong. Mature leaves are bright green above and much paler below. well-spaced branches. Edges of the leaves are smooth. finger-like lobes with no spikes. red oaks The leaves are 5−9” long and about half as broad. sassafras (page 59) upward view C-2 Leaves Have Pointed Lobes red mulberry. Sections of bark that are peeling loose from the side can be easily broken off. two lobes or three lobes all growing together to form the tree crown.

Looking up through the tree’s canopy presents the overall effect of a consistently thin. soft. yellow-poplar (tulip-poplar) (page 38) C-2c Leaf is wide and irregularly fan-shaped. flaky bark. They are narrow and often slightly curved. They vary from 1½−3” in length. Major veins for the leaf all originate at the base stem of the leaf and fan out like fingers into the lobes.C-2b Leaves the size of a man’s hand. with small prickles. trees bark upward view The twisted and spreading needles are borne two in a bundle. 51 . The tree crown is fairly thin and uniform throughout instead of the usual heavy clumps of greenery between open spaces seen in most southern yellow pines. usually slightly longer and wider than a man’s hand. The cones or burrs average about 2 inches in length. are yellow-green and are shorter than those of any other pine native to Tennessee. lacy. brown. sycamore (page 34) 14 Trees of Medium Difficulty – Virginia Pines VIRGINIA PINE (a southern yellow pine) − Virginia pines usually grow up together as a pure stand but sometimes are mixed with shortleaf and other pines. have four pointed lobes forming a distinct tulip shape. usually complete with dead stubs up and down the trunk. Center vein ends in center of sinus. The distinguishing characteristics include thin. filtered light.

Trees of Medium Difficulty – Sweetgum SWEETGUM – Sweetgum has a light gray. rounded sinuses between lobes. corklike bark. 57. is 5−7” across and very aromatic when crushed. with a narrow “teepee” shaped top. bark C-2d Leaves are tough and vary in size and shape but usually are from 4−7” long and 1−5” wide. There is a definite bristle on the end of each lobe. with its five to seven points or lobes. rough. In the fall its coloring is brilliant. ranging from pale yellow through orange and red to a deep bronze. with prominent lobes and deep. 50 15 willow oak . red oaks (pages 46. Many of the limbs may have one or more corky ridges growing along their lengths. 60) upland red oak black oak blackjack oak northern red oak tree shingle oak southern red oak scarlet oak lowland red oaks leaf fruit cherrybark oak Nuttall oak pin oak water oak Shumard oak twig The simple. alternate star-shaped leaf. Leaf veins to lobes start from several places along the central leaf vein. 54. It is tall. The fruit capsules are usually about the size of a golf ball and look like starbursts on a stem because they have sharp open points pointing in all directions.

diameter holes made by sapsuckers may often be found on the trunk. 16 49 . slender bud and leaf attached to the outside turning points of the pattern. sweetgum (page 50) C-3 Leaves Have No Lobes American beech. sourwood. the bark begins to turn black at the base and begins to split and curl from the side. star shape with deep V sinuses and long. Young trees are smooth and gray but as the tree gets larger. turning in autumn to brilliant shades of orange and clear yellow. blackgum. five-pointed. The limb angle becomes more acute in upper limbs. Leaf veins fan out from the base of the leaf at the stem. bark variations bark variations twig. sharp-tipped leaves 3− 5” long with toothed edges and very prominent. solid black. pointed lobes. Even when it is curling. simple. lighter green beneath. river birch. black cherry. seed C-3a Spear-shaped. hackberry. opposite. leaf. side-curling bark that is very tough and hard to break off. Parallel rows of ¼”. Sugar maples grown in the woods usually have lower limbs that grow out from the tree at 90-degree angles to the tree trunk. Twig has pronounced zigzag pattern with long. cottonwood. with three to five pointed and sparsely toothed lobes. The divisions between the lobes are rounded. persimmon. elms. straight veins that stand out along the bottom of the leaf. The leaves are dark green on the upper surface. the bark remains very tough and hard to break off.C-2e 4−7” wide leaf forms a distinctive. American beech (page 26) The leaves are 3−5” across. basswood. burned-looking areas on the lower parts of the tree trunk and/or the long strips of tight. sugarberry Trees of Medium Difficulty – Sugar Maple SUGAR MAPLE – Sugar maple can often be identified by the often-present.

If you are lucky. sharp-toothed margins. Small nodules often protrude from both sides of petiole just below leaf blade. and paler below. It has thick. curved teeth. Chewing small twigs or rolling up and chewing on the leaf will produce a very sour taste. thick and shiny above.Trees of Medium Difficulty – Sourwood SOURWOOD – Sourwood is a small tree (usually less than 10 inches in diameter at chest height). simple. basswood leaf C-3c Oval to speartip-shaped leaves 2−4” long and 1−1½” wide. there will be long. Stem releases pungent odor when scraped with fingernail. tree bark C-3b Heart-shaped. 3½−5½” leaf with one side of the base higher than the other. The blade is soft-textured. chunky silver gray to reddish-brown bark and often grows with a curved trunk and top that droops over. alternate. 48 17 . Large trees usually have sprouts growing around the tree’s base. straight and often are bright red. Edges broken by many fine. with finely toothed margins. Rounded to an abrupt tip with coarse. First-year twigs are strong. fine clusters of very small fruit capsules hanging down from the ends of the branches. black cherry (page 42) The leaves are from 5−7” long and 1−3” wide.

Leaf tip often curls down and to the side. platy bark on a tree trunk that is usually well-pruned. smooth-edged with shiny dark green top upper surface. Needles stand in clumps on top of branches.C-3d Leaves are 2−5” long. and 1−2” wide. slender. It has a tall. These pockmarks are small but easily visible with the naked eye and give the appearance of tiny replicas of moon craters. Fruit clusters of two to three bluish-black berries often present in late summer. 18 47 . They are from 3−5” long. flexible and dark green. The tree top is usually made up of thick clumps of upturned foliage growing on the top side of the limbs with daylight present between the clumps. generally clustered along the twig. flat petiole. eastern cottonwood The needles are in bundles of two or three needles per bundle. blackgum (page 55) Trees of Medium Difficulty – Shortleaf Pine SHORTLEAF PINE – Shortleaf pine can be found growing as single trees mixed throughout the hardwood forest. They are usually round and indented in the center with a slightly raised perimeter. Cones or burrs are small. oval speartip-shaped. The distinguishing characteristic is the often-present pitch pockets on the surface of the tree’s bark. upturned needles pitch pockets C-3e Triangular-shaped leaf with base that is almost straight across. brown trunk covered with large. 1½−2½” long with sharp prickles. long. Coarse-toothed edges.

Trees of Medium Difficulty – Scarlet Oak
SCARLET OAK (a member of the red oak group) –
Scarlet oak is usually a poorly formed tree with dead
branches spiking out of the trunk and a swollen, highly
figured base. The bark often has long silver stripes up
and down the trunk. This is especially true toward the
crown. The bark is tight, dark gray and hard to the touch
with shallow ridges running up and down the tree between
wide, flat plates of bark. Drilling through the bark with a
pocket knife will reveal a light pink color and sap that has
a pungent smell. Dead lower branches are often persistent.
swollen base

C-3f Leaves are 3−5” long, oval and double-toothed
with fine teeth along edge between evenly spaced
larger teeth. The base of the leaf is lopsided, with one
side higher on the leaf than the other.
elm - American (page 40)

bud, leaf, acorn upward view

C-3g Double-toothed leaves 4−7” long and 2−3”
wide are fairly oval; with pointed tips and very
rough sandpaper-feeling; dull, dark green upper
surface; lopsided base on leaf. Thick, slimy sap
present when twig is broken.
elm – slippery (page 40)

The leaves are simple, alternate, somewhat oblong or oval,
3−6” long, 2½−4” wide and usually seven-lobed. The
lobes are bristle-pointed and separated by rounded
openings extending at least two-thirds of the distance to
the midrib, giving the leaves a very deep, “cut”
appearance. The leaves turn a brilliant scarlet in the
autumn before falling to the ground.
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C-3h Leaves are 1½−3” long and 1−1½” wide, doubletoothed with fine teeth between evenly spaced
larger teeth. One side of the leaf is larger than the
other as though the yellow leaf stem is slightly off on
one side of the base circle. There are usually flattopped corky ridges along the twig between the
leaves.
elm - winged (page 37)

Trees of Medium Difficulty – Loblolly Pine
LOBLOLLY PINE (a southern yellow pine) – In most of
Tennessee, loblolly pine will only be found growing in
plantations but in wild stands they may be found growing
in random fashion. They are usually tall, with gently
sweeping, well-pruned trunks. Look for dark, thick,
rectangular, chunky bark. Then look up for pine needles.
You should see a tree crown that is made up of thick,
round ball-shaped tufts of pine needles at the ends of
scattered branches with daylight in between. If you can
reach the needles, bend them over against themselves.
Loblolly needles are flexible enough to bend double
without breaking.
bark

round needle tufts

C-3h Light green speartip-shaped leaves 2−4” long
and 1−2’ wide with smooth edges around the
base and fine teeth along the sides up to the tip. Three
distinct veins come up from the base. Tree trunk is light
gray with corky warts in singles and clusters.
hackberry* (page 31)
hackberry

sugarberry

Needles are 5−9” long, are borne three in a cluster; fruit is
in cones or burrs about 3−5” long with sharp, upwardcurving spikes on the end of each scale.
*If teeth do not start along edge until approximately onethird way from the base to tip, the tree is sugarberry
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45

Trees of Medium Difficulty – Chestnut Oak
CHESTNUT OAK – Chestnut oak is a member of the
white oak group. It often grows on dry sites such as upper
slopes and ridge tops. It can get very large, including a
wide, spreading crown of heavy limbs. A distinguishing
characteristic is the very deeply fissured bark that
looks more like a series of V-shaped valleys that have
been carved up and down the tree trunk than the bark
cracked open because of tree growth. The bark color
varies from silver-gray to dark gray to brown. The valleys
are V-shaped and so deep and wide you can usually lay
your fingers completely inside the channels.

C-3i Alternate 4-6” long leaf is oval with rounded
base and pointed tip, smooth edges, shiny dark green
top, and paler green bottom. The petiole is ⅓−1” long
and covered with tiny hairs. Tree trunk is covered
with rough, knobby shaped bark.
persimmon

bark variations bud, leaf, acorn bark variations
C-3j Alternate 1½−3” long leaves with broad, triangular
shape, long, tapered tip and both coarse and fine teeth
along the edges. Veins flair out in straight lines from
the central vein to the outside edges.
river birch

The leaves of chestnut oak are simple, alternate, oblong,
often rounded at the point, blunt-toothed, 5−9” long and
shiny yellowish-green above, lighter and slightly fuzzy
beneath.

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hickory (pages 35. Alternate Arrangement. slender sprouts growing out in clumps along the trunk and major limbs of the tree. boxelder sprouts have no rough secondary bark patches along the stem. making winter identification only by bark difficult. Branches are located opposite one another. trunk with sprouts tree D. Compound Leaves hickory. Leaflets come off a central leaf stem at intervals along the side and off the end of the stem. locust D-1 Leaf is 8−14” long with from five to nine finetoothed leaflets that are usually yellow green on top and paler on the bottom. sourwood (page 48) Trees of Medium Difficulty – Boxelder BOXELDER − Boxelder is a medium-sized. Unlike sassafras that also has green twigs. Leaf has a very sour taste. often forked tree that can be found in urban settings and open damp areas. slender and often green. rounded. 56) bitternut hickory mockernut hickory pignut hickory Leaves have toothed leaflets that have several shapes with some jutting out to the side like pointed thumbs. Long strands of small berries often found hanging from branch tips. The bark texture looks a lot like ash. shagbark hickory shellbark hickory 22 43 . Twigs are long. green.C-3k Lance-shaped leaves 4−7” long and 1−2” wide with finely toothed outside margins. black walnut. often leaving the tree with broken tops and a lot of long. Hairs stick up along the center vein when leaf is folded back in half along vein. The wood is very brittle.

The base and tip of the leaflets are rounded at the ends. sharply toothed and pointed. locust (page 33) black locust (compound leaf) honey locust (double compound leaf) Oval to lance-like shaped leaves are 2−5” long and 1−1½” wide. bark tree trunk D-2 Leaves 1−2’ in length with 13 to 23 leaflets 2−4” long and 1−2” wide. Terminal leaflet is often missing.Trees of Medium Difficulty – Black Cherry BLACK CHERRY – Black cherry can be identified by its dark gray/black bark that looks as flaky as if someone glued large corn flakes up and down its trunk. Breaking off a twig or pricking a hole through the bark to the inner wood will produce a pungent odor. limbs and twigs will have a series of random. fine white lines marked at right angles to the stem’s length. Small trunks. black walnut (page 28) young bark D-3 Leaves are 8−14” long with 12 to 20 small oval leaflets ½−1” long and ¼−½” wide. 42 23 . Leaf edges are broken by many fine in-curved teeth. Inner bark of soft tree trunk is dark chocolate brown. They are located just below the leaf blade. Two small glands often protrude from the sides of the petiole. thick and shiny above and paler beneath.

This guide offers clues for identifying those trees that can be identified without first having to learn the leaves. tree bark upward view Trees in this booklet that are not listed under one of these three categories are considered to be too variable or too subtle in their form and shape to be described for winter identification. Easy-to-Identify Trees. forming a tight teepee-shaped cone that almost looks fuzzy. reddish-brown to tan and becomes thick and fibrous as the tree ages. round leaf buds. Needles are dropped in winter. Looking on the ground beneath the tree for shed leaves and seeds can often help. form flat tops and may develop scattered knees throughout the root zone. Baldcypress is usually found growing in or around standing water. thin. Trees That Require Close Examination. Twigs on these branches are lined with both leaf scars and protruding. You have to be careful not to misidentify the tree by picking up leaves from a neighboring tree by mistake. 2. On young trees. making the tree look like a dead cedar tree. when known. The bark is thin. The bark and overall growth form are the most readily available and accurate sources of clues to winter identification of trees. It can be especially difficult in the winter when the leaves have fallen and the remaining buds and twigs are high in the tree and out of reach.Identifying Trees in the Winter When There Are No Leaves on the Tree Identifying trees any time of the year can be a challenge. but it can also be found growing on better-drained sites. Others are more subtle. make positive identification possible. short. Many trees have bark characteristics that. reddish-brown branches are retained from low on the tree to the top. Fortunately trees do not move around so their probable identities can usually be narrowed down by location. 24 41 . fluted bases. Larger trees form spreading. They are classified as: 1. hard. 3. Trees of Medium Difficulty – Baldcypress BALDCYPRESS – Baldcypress can best be identified in the winter by location. tree shape and the often present knees (knob-like projections growing up out of the ground or water around the base of the tree). shed their lower branches. Trees of Medium Difficulty.

. Three or four major limbs usually fork sharply upward from the trunk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Eastern redcedar . . . . . . . . . then arch gracefully over and end with clusters of fine branch tips. . positive identification to be made. . . . . . but in each case the results are unique enough for an easy. . 40 Sycamore 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Hemlock . . . . . With practice. . . . . . . 26 Ash . . . . . . . . . vase shape. The base of the leaf is lopsided. 30 Hackberry . 35 White pine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Slippery Elm EASY-TO-IDENTIFY TREES AMERICAN ELM – American elm is perhaps best identified in the winter by looking at the shape of the tree. . . . . . . . . . bark twig. . . . . . . . . . . . . many of these trees can be recognized from a distance. . Others may require touching. . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Shellbark hickory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oval and doubletoothed. . . . . . . . . . . 31 Sycamore . . . . . 37 Yellow-poplar . .Trees of Medium Difficulty – American Elm. . . . . . 27 Black walnut . . . . . . . Breaking or cutting a cross section of the bark will reveal a series of white lines. . scuffing and sniffing in addition to just looking. . . 33 Sugarberry . . . . 38 Leaves for both elms are 3−7” long. . . . . The top of American elm leaves is smooth. . . . . . . . . . . The top of slippery elm leaves is usually sandpaper rough when rubbed from tip to base. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cutting a cross section of the bark will reveal red inner bark without white lines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Flowering dogwood . . . . 34 Shagbark hickory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Name Page American beech . . . SLIPPERY ELM− (not shown) has the same shape and form as American elm. . . . . . . . . . . . The tree usually forms a rounded to flat-topped. . . . . . 36 Winged elm . . . . . . . . . . coarse teeth. . . . . leaf and fruit American elm tree bark lines Each of the following trees has characteristics that are easy to identify. . The ends of these branches are noticeably small for the given size of the tree. . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Locust . . with fine teeth between evenly spaced.

. . Leaves are oblong. mouse-gray bark without peeling. . Twigs have a pronounced zigzag pattern with long. . . . . . Sourwood . . . . . well-drained areas such as hollows and north-facing lower slopes. . . . . . . Because of its dense summer foliage. . . . it will retain its leaves (light tan after frost) most of the winter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cypress knees in snow 26 39 Page 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 40 49 50 51 52 . . .Easy-to-Identify Trees – American Beech AMERICAN BEECH – American beech retains its very smooth. . . bark leaf upward view TREES OF MEDIUM DIFFICULTY Name American elm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . slender bud and leaf scar at each outside turning point of the pattern. . . . . . . It is very particular about growing in moist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Slippery elm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sugar maple . . Baldcypress . . . . . . . . . . Chestnut oak . . . sharp-tipped. . Boxelder . . . straight veins that stand out along the bottom of the leaf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sweetgum . . . . Virginia pine . . . . Shortleaf pine . . . . Black cherry . . . . . Often. . . . . . . . Scarlet oak . . Loblolly pine .. . no matter how large it grows. . . . . the area under the tree is usually free of any undergrowth except occasional beech sprouts. . . . . . . . White oak . . . . . . . . . . 3−5” long with toothed edges and very prominent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..

Green ash often inhabits wet sites. 27 . a very light cream-colored inner bark is exposed. Both have corky light tan to gray. diamond chainshaped pattern. slender and often green branches). When the outer bark is sliced away. On all but the largest trees.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Yellow-Poplar Easy-to-Identify Trees –Ash YELLOW-POPLAR – Yellow-poplar (tulip-poplar) is a distinctive tree that grows straight and round. Leaves have three to seven 1½−4” leaflets growing along the sides and end of the leaf stalk. White ash has a small bud that is buried in the crotch and not readily visible. pruned trunks that may be very tall with a relatively small top. Further identifying characteristics include clean. the tendency to grow in pure stands. The branch tips are large and very blunt looking (not to be confused with boxelder that has long. The surface of the bark will usually rub off in a crumbly manner. The single characteristic that makes identification relatively easy is the presence of what looks like white to silver white chalk dust inside the channels and depressions of the bark. ASH – The two most common species of ash in Tennessee are green ash and white ash. rough bark that sometimes forms a tight. Silver-white inside bark bark variations green ash blunt tip leaves white ash trunk base leaf 38 Ash trees have compound leaves that are 9−12” long and grow opposite of one another along the branch. peeled bananas standing upright on the ends of the upper branches. The bark is smooth and mouse gray in small trees. and leftover seed-pods that look like small. becoming rougher and more butternut brown as the tree grows larger. while white ash is usually found growing on welldrained to dry soils. Branches also grow opposite one another along the limb. Green ash has a prominent bud nestled in the crotch between the twig and leaf. This silver-white dusting is consistent from bottom to top of the tree. the bark usually looks more like it was molded on the tree than split and cracked away as the tree grew.

coarse teeth. 28 Winged elm leaves are 1½−3” long and 1−1½” wide. strong-looking limbs. as though the yellow leaf petiole is growing slightly off center. The tree is usually small. The terminal leaflet is often missing. slender. chocolatebrown inner bark. bark tree leaves and wings on twigs bark Black walnut leaves are 1−2’ in length with 13 to 23 leaflets. WINGED ELM – Winged elm is easy to identify because of the corky ridges growing along two sides of the long. Using a knife to slice away the soft surface of the bark on the trunk of the tree will expose a smooth. branches and twigs. double-toothed with fine teeth between evenly spaced.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Black Walnut Easy-to-Identify Trees – Winged Elm BLACK WALNUT – Black walnut has a rough dark bark and only a few. The odor of the cut bark is also distinctive to black walnut. growing on dry soils or rocky areas. widely spaced. 37 . sharply toothed and pointed. The overall shape of the tree is rounded to flat on top. mouse gray. wandering. One side of the leaf is slightly larger than the other side. 2−4” long and 1−2” wide.

Each needle has white lines along the length of the bottom surface. When the whorls of dead branches or branch stubs persist on lower tree trunks. Pricking through the bark to the wood produces the distinctive odor often associated with cedar-lined closets. resulting in a series of wagon wheel-shaped branch whorls clustered around the trunk. The pattern repeats itself each year.Easy-to-Identify-Trees – White Pine Easy-to-Identify Trees – Eastern Redcedar WHITE PINE – White pine is easy to identify by its branching pattern. The branches in each whorl grow out of the tree trunk at the same height. It is a medium-sized tree that typically has very dense yellowgreen to blue-green foliage and thin silver-brown bark that will peel or shred off in thin strips. separated by bare spaces along the trunk. scale-like leaves growing on all four sides of the thickly matted twigs. The trunk is dark gray-black. upward view bark needles & cones White pine has soft. blue-green needles. 36 tree The leaves of eastern redcedar are very small. EASTERN REDCEDAR – Eastern redcedar is our only native evergreen that has scale-type leaves. yellowgreen to blue-green. the tree’s approximate age can be figured by counting the total number of branch whorls. flexible. It grows one wagon wheel shaped whorl of branches and a long terminal shoot each year. 29 . 3−5” long and growing in bundles of five.

bark tree Easy-to-Identify Trees – Shagbark. mottled. with smooth but wavy outer edges that are almost rounded at the base and tipped at the end. attached to branch tips. twig with buds Flowering dogwood’s dark to yellow-green leaves are oblong and broadly rounded. false petals that form what looks like large white flowers. The leaf stem often continues to hang from the limb long after the leaflets are gone. The leaf may be 24 inches long and averages seven large leaflets per leaf. 35 . hard. 30 Shagbark hickory leaves are 8−14” long. rounded flower buds that form an X pattern when looked at from the end. It has a mouse-gray.topped. trunk. The bark is tan to dark brown and broken up into small. the leaves and clusters of berries turn red. then settles into peeling in long overlapping strips hanging down in layers that are often over 6 inches long. usually with five fine-toothed leaflets that are yellow green on top and paler on the bottom. four-sided scaly blocks. In the fall. The veins make pronounced sweeping upward curves from the central vein to the outside edge of the leaf. It is usually found growing wet areas. white. These strips are tough as armor. Shellbark Hickories SHAGBARK HICKORY – Shagbark hickory is usually found on dry to well-drained sites. 3−5” long and 2−3” wide.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Flowering Dogwood FLOWERING DOGWOOD – Flowering dogwood is a small tree. SHELLBARK HICKORY (not shown) has practically identical bark characteristics. making them difficult to break off even though with some effort they can be peeled from the tree. bark leaf fruit. almost shiny bark that may peel from both top and bottom at first. often crooked. flat. with a rather flat and spreading crown and short. During the winter there are usually large. seldom reaching more than 20 feet in height and 6 inches in diameter. Flowering dogwood blooms in spring with small flowers surrounded by four large.

speartip-shaped leaves. 31 . peeling bark top and limb bark bark limb tangles fruit. SUGARBERRY Hackberry and sugarberry are very similar. usually slightly longer and wider than a man’s hand. Sugarberry SYCAMORE – Sycamore can be called the tree of bleached bones because it looks like old bones shedding patches of skin. A second identifying feature is the bird nest-like tangles of twisted twigs that often develop at the ends of the branches. mouse-gray bark but they also have warts! The bark will have single warty growths and clusters of warty growth protruding from the smooth surface at random places. twig hackberry The sycamore leaf is 4−8” wide and irregularly fanshaped. HACKBERRY. These protrusions are usually ¼−⅓” tall. exposing large areas of very smooth. they have smooth. greenish gray to silver white bark. twisted looking and anywhere from ¼” long. medium to large trees often found growing in fence rows and in almost pure stands on shallow. leaf. long limbs shed random patches of paper-thin. The trunk of very large trees may eventually be covered with this light tan outer bark. 34 sugarberry Hackberry has light green. limestone-based soils. Veins for the leaf all originate at the base stem of the leaf and fan out like fingers into the lobes. large. except the teeth are either absent or do not begin until the mid-point of the leaf. Sugarberry has the same leaf characteristics. but the bark continues to shed. Like the beech.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Sycamore Easy-to-Identify Trees – Hackberry. 2−4” long and 1−2” wide that have smooth edges around the base and fine teeth along the sides up to the tip. light tan bark. Both the trunk and the well-spaced. warty singles to warty rows along the smooth bark.

blunt-tipped needles have two parallel light blue stripes along the bottom side from end to end. rope-like bark. The base and tip of the leaflets are rounded at the ends.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Hemlocks Easy-to-Identify Trees – Locust HEMLOCKS – Hemlock is found in the eastern part of the state. Two species of hemlock grow in East Tennessee. It is an upland evergreen tree that has green leaves all year. light blue lines along the length of its bottom surface. LOCUST – Black locust has light brown. but Carolina hemlock may also be found. Lower limbs usually droop down toward the ground in flat. Branches hang in flat. Honey locust has very large thorns on its trunk and branches. The ¾” long. Eastern hemlock is the most common. The quick identifying characteristic for both trees is the presence of thorns along the twigs and trunk. 33 . flat. This tree is almost always growing in moist. with 12 to 20 small oval leaflets ½−1” long and ¼−½” wide. well-drained areas such as lower drainages and northfacing slopes. layered fashion. 8−14” long. 32 Locust leaves are compound (black locust) or doubly compound (honey locust). Black locust has scattered. Each needle usually has two parallel. layered fashion and flair upward at the tips. Needles lay flat on eastern hemlock and protrude in all directions on Carolina hemlock. ¾” long needles with blunt ends. bark Carolina hemlock needles black locust black locust leaf honey locust upward view honey locust leaf eastern hemlock needles Hemlocks have flat. branches and tree trunk. while the bark of honey locust is flat and scales up from the side. ½-inch long thorns scattered along the leaves. These thorns are sometimes 4 inches long and often have long secondary spikes angling out from their base.

flat. Needles lay flat on eastern hemlock and protrude in all directions on Carolina hemlock. bark Carolina hemlock needles black locust black locust leaf honey locust upward view honey locust leaf eastern hemlock needles Hemlocks have flat. light blue lines along the length of its bottom surface. Lower limbs usually droop down toward the ground in flat. LOCUST – Black locust has light brown. 8−14” long. ½-inch long thorns scattered along the leaves. These thorns are sometimes 4 inches long and often have long secondary spikes angling out from their base. Two species of hemlock grow in East Tennessee. Eastern hemlock is the most common. layered fashion. blunt-tipped needles have two parallel light blue stripes along the bottom side from end to end.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Hemlocks Easy-to-Identify Trees – Locust HEMLOCKS – Hemlock is found in the eastern part of the state. The ¾” long. The base and tip of the leaflets are rounded at the ends. branches and tree trunk. 33 . Black locust has scattered. rope-like bark. 32 Locust leaves are compound (black locust) or doubly compound (honey locust). but Carolina hemlock may also be found. layered fashion and flair upward at the tips. with 12 to 20 small oval leaflets ½−1” long and ¼−½” wide. The quick identifying characteristic for both trees is the presence of thorns along the twigs and trunk. well-drained areas such as lower drainages and northfacing slopes. Branches hang in flat. It is an upland evergreen tree that has green leaves all year. Each needle usually has two parallel. while the bark of honey locust is flat and scales up from the side. Honey locust has very large thorns on its trunk and branches. This tree is almost always growing in moist. ¾” long needles with blunt ends.

The trunk of very large trees may eventually be covered with this light tan outer bark. A second identifying feature is the bird nest-like tangles of twisted twigs that often develop at the ends of the branches. they have smooth. SUGARBERRY Hackberry and sugarberry are very similar. twig hackberry The sycamore leaf is 4−8” wide and irregularly fanshaped. twisted looking and anywhere from ¼” long. long limbs shed random patches of paper-thin. greenish gray to silver white bark. limestone-based soils. speartip-shaped leaves. usually slightly longer and wider than a man’s hand. light tan bark. mouse-gray bark but they also have warts! The bark will have single warty growths and clusters of warty growth protruding from the smooth surface at random places.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Sycamore Easy-to-Identify Trees – Hackberry. medium to large trees often found growing in fence rows and in almost pure stands on shallow. Sugarberry has the same leaf characteristics. Like the beech. These protrusions are usually ¼−⅓” tall. 31 . 2−4” long and 1−2” wide that have smooth edges around the base and fine teeth along the sides up to the tip. except the teeth are either absent or do not begin until the mid-point of the leaf. exposing large areas of very smooth. large. HACKBERRY. Both the trunk and the well-spaced. leaf. peeling bark top and limb bark bark limb tangles fruit. 34 sugarberry Hackberry has light green. warty singles to warty rows along the smooth bark. Veins for the leaf all originate at the base stem of the leaf and fan out like fingers into the lobes. but the bark continues to shed. Sugarberry SYCAMORE – Sycamore can be called the tree of bleached bones because it looks like old bones shedding patches of skin.

During the winter there are usually large. The veins make pronounced sweeping upward curves from the central vein to the outside edge of the leaf. white. bark tree Easy-to-Identify Trees – Shagbark. It is usually found growing wet areas. with smooth but wavy outer edges that are almost rounded at the base and tipped at the end. the leaves and clusters of berries turn red.topped. often crooked. SHELLBARK HICKORY (not shown) has practically identical bark characteristics. attached to branch tips. with a rather flat and spreading crown and short. trunk. then settles into peeling in long overlapping strips hanging down in layers that are often over 6 inches long. making them difficult to break off even though with some effort they can be peeled from the tree. flat. twig with buds Flowering dogwood’s dark to yellow-green leaves are oblong and broadly rounded. The leaf stem often continues to hang from the limb long after the leaflets are gone. The leaf may be 24 inches long and averages seven large leaflets per leaf. seldom reaching more than 20 feet in height and 6 inches in diameter.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Flowering Dogwood FLOWERING DOGWOOD – Flowering dogwood is a small tree. almost shiny bark that may peel from both top and bottom at first. bark leaf fruit. 35 . These strips are tough as armor. hard. false petals that form what looks like large white flowers. mottled. rounded flower buds that form an X pattern when looked at from the end. The bark is tan to dark brown and broken up into small. It has a mouse-gray. usually with five fine-toothed leaflets that are yellow green on top and paler on the bottom. Flowering dogwood blooms in spring with small flowers surrounded by four large. four-sided scaly blocks. In the fall. 3−5” long and 2−3” wide. 30 Shagbark hickory leaves are 8−14” long. Shellbark Hickories SHAGBARK HICKORY – Shagbark hickory is usually found on dry to well-drained sites.

the tree’s approximate age can be figured by counting the total number of branch whorls. EASTERN REDCEDAR – Eastern redcedar is our only native evergreen that has scale-type leaves. upward view bark needles & cones White pine has soft. The pattern repeats itself each year. When the whorls of dead branches or branch stubs persist on lower tree trunks. Pricking through the bark to the wood produces the distinctive odor often associated with cedar-lined closets. It grows one wagon wheel shaped whorl of branches and a long terminal shoot each year.Easy-to-Identify-Trees – White Pine Easy-to-Identify Trees – Eastern Redcedar WHITE PINE – White pine is easy to identify by its branching pattern. Each needle has white lines along the length of the bottom surface. resulting in a series of wagon wheel-shaped branch whorls clustered around the trunk. 29 . blue-green needles. The trunk is dark gray-black. 36 tree The leaves of eastern redcedar are very small. scale-like leaves growing on all four sides of the thickly matted twigs. yellowgreen to blue-green. It is a medium-sized tree that typically has very dense yellowgreen to blue-green foliage and thin silver-brown bark that will peel or shred off in thin strips. The branches in each whorl grow out of the tree trunk at the same height. flexible. separated by bare spaces along the trunk. 3−5” long and growing in bundles of five.

double-toothed with fine teeth between evenly spaced. chocolatebrown inner bark. as though the yellow leaf petiole is growing slightly off center. bark tree leaves and wings on twigs bark Black walnut leaves are 1−2’ in length with 13 to 23 leaflets. One side of the leaf is slightly larger than the other side. WINGED ELM – Winged elm is easy to identify because of the corky ridges growing along two sides of the long. sharply toothed and pointed. The odor of the cut bark is also distinctive to black walnut.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Black Walnut Easy-to-Identify Trees – Winged Elm BLACK WALNUT – Black walnut has a rough dark bark and only a few. The overall shape of the tree is rounded to flat on top. Using a knife to slice away the soft surface of the bark on the trunk of the tree will expose a smooth. 2−4” long and 1−2” wide. 37 . strong-looking limbs. widely spaced. growing on dry soils or rocky areas. 28 Winged elm leaves are 1½−3” long and 1−1½” wide. coarse teeth. slender. mouse gray. The terminal leaflet is often missing. wandering. The tree is usually small. branches and twigs.

The surface of the bark will usually rub off in a crumbly manner. White ash has a small bud that is buried in the crotch and not readily visible. Green ash has a prominent bud nestled in the crotch between the twig and leaf. Green ash often inhabits wet sites. becoming rougher and more butternut brown as the tree grows larger. the tendency to grow in pure stands. while white ash is usually found growing on welldrained to dry soils. and leftover seed-pods that look like small. On all but the largest trees. Leaves have three to seven 1½−4” leaflets growing along the sides and end of the leaf stalk.Easy-to-Identify Trees – Yellow-Poplar Easy-to-Identify Trees –Ash YELLOW-POPLAR – Yellow-poplar (tulip-poplar) is a distinctive tree that grows straight and round. This silver-white dusting is consistent from bottom to top of the tree. slender and often green branches). Further identifying characteristics include clean. 27 . ASH – The two most common species of ash in Tennessee are green ash and white ash. diamond chainshaped pattern. the bark usually looks more like it was molded on the tree than split and cracked away as the tree grew. Silver-white inside bark bark variations green ash blunt tip leaves white ash trunk base leaf 38 Ash trees have compound leaves that are 9−12” long and grow opposite of one another along the branch. The branch tips are large and very blunt looking (not to be confused with boxelder that has long. When the outer bark is sliced away. Both have corky light tan to gray. peeled bananas standing upright on the ends of the upper branches. Branches also grow opposite one another along the limb. rough bark that sometimes forms a tight. The bark is smooth and mouse gray in small trees. pruned trunks that may be very tall with a relatively small top. The single characteristic that makes identification relatively easy is the presence of what looks like white to silver white chalk dust inside the channels and depressions of the bark. a very light cream-colored inner bark is exposed.

. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Virginia pine . 3−5” long with toothed edges and very prominent. Slippery elm . . . . . . . . Twigs have a pronounced zigzag pattern with long. . . . . Because of its dense summer foliage. . . . Black cherry . . . Cypress knees in snow 26 39 Page 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 40 49 50 51 52 . . . . .. . . . it will retain its leaves (light tan after frost) most of the winter. . Leaves are oblong. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boxelder . Sourwood . . . . . Chestnut oak . Sweetgum . Baldcypress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . slender bud and leaf scar at each outside turning point of the pattern. . . . bark leaf upward view TREES OF MEDIUM DIFFICULTY Name American elm . . . Often. . . . . . . . . Scarlet oak . . . White oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . no matter how large it grows. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . well-drained areas such as hollows and north-facing lower slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . straight veins that stand out along the bottom of the leaf. . . . . . . . Loblolly pine . . . . . . . . Shortleaf pine . . . . . . . the area under the tree is usually free of any undergrowth except occasional beech sprouts. . . . . . . . . sharp-tipped. . . . . . . . Sugar maple . . . . . . . . . . . .Easy-to-Identify Trees – American Beech AMERICAN BEECH – American beech retains its very smooth. . . . . mouse-gray bark without peeling. . . . It is very particular about growing in moist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Three or four major limbs usually fork sharply upward from the trunk. . . . . . . . Slippery Elm EASY-TO-IDENTIFY TREES AMERICAN ELM – American elm is perhaps best identified in the winter by looking at the shape of the tree. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The ends of these branches are noticeably small for the given size of the tree. . 35 White pine . . . . . . 30 Hackberry . . . . . Name Page American beech . . . . . . . . . . . coarse teeth. . . . . . . . . . . . . bark twig. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SLIPPERY ELM− (not shown) has the same shape and form as American elm. . . . . . 27 Black walnut . The top of slippery elm leaves is usually sandpaper rough when rubbed from tip to base. . . . . . . . With practice. . . . . Cutting a cross section of the bark will reveal red inner bark without white lines. . . . . . . . . .Trees of Medium Difficulty – American Elm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . but in each case the results are unique enough for an easy. . 40 Sycamore 25 . . . . . . . 32 Locust . . . . . . . Breaking or cutting a cross section of the bark will reveal a series of white lines. The base of the leaf is lopsided. . . . . . . . . . . . positive identification to be made. . . . . . The top of American elm leaves is smooth. . . . . . 38 Leaves for both elms are 3−7” long. . . vase shape. . then arch gracefully over and end with clusters of fine branch tips. Others may require touching. . . . . . . . . . 26 Ash . . . . 35 Shellbark hickory . . . . . . . . . . 31 Sycamore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . leaf and fruit American elm tree bark lines Each of the following trees has characteristics that are easy to identify. The tree usually forms a rounded to flat-topped. . . . . 29 Flowering dogwood . . . . . . . scuffing and sniffing in addition to just looking. . 36 Winged elm . . . . . with fine teeth between evenly spaced. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Yellow-poplar . . . . . 33 Sugarberry . . . . . . 34 Shagbark hickory . . . . . . . . . . . . many of these trees can be recognized from a distance. . 28 Eastern redcedar . . . 31 Hemlock . . . . oval and doubletoothed. . . . . . .

Others are more subtle. 2. The bark is thin. Needles are dropped in winter. Trees That Require Close Examination. but it can also be found growing on better-drained sites. round leaf buds.Identifying Trees in the Winter When There Are No Leaves on the Tree Identifying trees any time of the year can be a challenge. tree shape and the often present knees (knob-like projections growing up out of the ground or water around the base of the tree). Trees of Medium Difficulty – Baldcypress BALDCYPRESS – Baldcypress can best be identified in the winter by location. Many trees have bark characteristics that. short. make positive identification possible. It can be especially difficult in the winter when the leaves have fallen and the remaining buds and twigs are high in the tree and out of reach. hard. reddish-brown branches are retained from low on the tree to the top. tree bark upward view Trees in this booklet that are not listed under one of these three categories are considered to be too variable or too subtle in their form and shape to be described for winter identification. They are classified as: 1. On young trees. Easy-to-Identify Trees. Twigs on these branches are lined with both leaf scars and protruding. Fortunately trees do not move around so their probable identities can usually be narrowed down by location. You have to be careful not to misidentify the tree by picking up leaves from a neighboring tree by mistake. shed their lower branches. fluted bases. The bark and overall growth form are the most readily available and accurate sources of clues to winter identification of trees. Looking on the ground beneath the tree for shed leaves and seeds can often help. making the tree look like a dead cedar tree. thin. form flat tops and may develop scattered knees throughout the root zone. Larger trees form spreading. 24 41 . forming a tight teepee-shaped cone that almost looks fuzzy. reddish-brown to tan and becomes thick and fibrous as the tree ages. Trees of Medium Difficulty. when known. Baldcypress is usually found growing in or around standing water. 3. This guide offers clues for identifying those trees that can be identified without first having to learn the leaves.

Small trunks. They are located just below the leaf blade. fine white lines marked at right angles to the stem’s length. Breaking off a twig or pricking a hole through the bark to the inner wood will produce a pungent odor. 42 23 .Trees of Medium Difficulty – Black Cherry BLACK CHERRY – Black cherry can be identified by its dark gray/black bark that looks as flaky as if someone glued large corn flakes up and down its trunk. bark tree trunk D-2 Leaves 1−2’ in length with 13 to 23 leaflets 2−4” long and 1−2” wide. Leaf edges are broken by many fine in-curved teeth. thick and shiny above and paler beneath. sharply toothed and pointed. Terminal leaflet is often missing. black walnut (page 28) young bark D-3 Leaves are 8−14” long with 12 to 20 small oval leaflets ½−1” long and ¼−½” wide. The base and tip of the leaflets are rounded at the ends. locust (page 33) black locust (compound leaf) honey locust (double compound leaf) Oval to lance-like shaped leaves are 2−5” long and 1−1½” wide. Inner bark of soft tree trunk is dark chocolate brown. limbs and twigs will have a series of random. Two small glands often protrude from the sides of the petiole.

locust D-1 Leaf is 8−14” long with from five to nine finetoothed leaflets that are usually yellow green on top and paler on the bottom. Long strands of small berries often found hanging from branch tips. slender and often green. rounded. Unlike sassafras that also has green twigs. sourwood (page 48) Trees of Medium Difficulty – Boxelder BOXELDER − Boxelder is a medium-sized. green. Twigs are long. slender sprouts growing out in clumps along the trunk and major limbs of the tree. Alternate Arrangement. often forked tree that can be found in urban settings and open damp areas. making winter identification only by bark difficult. 56) bitternut hickory mockernut hickory pignut hickory Leaves have toothed leaflets that have several shapes with some jutting out to the side like pointed thumbs. Compound Leaves hickory. shagbark hickory shellbark hickory 22 43 .C-3k Lance-shaped leaves 4−7” long and 1−2” wide with finely toothed outside margins. hickory (pages 35. The wood is very brittle. Leaf has a very sour taste. often leaving the tree with broken tops and a lot of long. boxelder sprouts have no rough secondary bark patches along the stem. trunk with sprouts tree D. Hairs stick up along the center vein when leaf is folded back in half along vein. Leaflets come off a central leaf stem at intervals along the side and off the end of the stem. Branches are located opposite one another. The bark texture looks a lot like ash. black walnut.

5−9” long and shiny yellowish-green above. Veins flair out in straight lines from the central vein to the outside edges. 44 21 . including a wide. smooth edges. The valleys are V-shaped and so deep and wide you can usually lay your fingers completely inside the channels. It can get very large. river birch The leaves of chestnut oak are simple. often rounded at the point. alternate. C-3i Alternate 4-6” long leaf is oval with rounded base and pointed tip. It often grows on dry sites such as upper slopes and ridge tops. acorn bark variations C-3j Alternate 1½−3” long leaves with broad. shiny dark green top. tapered tip and both coarse and fine teeth along the edges. persimmon bark variations bud. Tree trunk is covered with rough. leaf. triangular shape. and paler green bottom. knobby shaped bark. lighter and slightly fuzzy beneath. A distinguishing characteristic is the very deeply fissured bark that looks more like a series of V-shaped valleys that have been carved up and down the tree trunk than the bark cracked open because of tree growth.Trees of Medium Difficulty – Chestnut Oak CHESTNUT OAK – Chestnut oak is a member of the white oak group. oblong. long. The petiole is ⅓−1” long and covered with tiny hairs. spreading crown of heavy limbs. blunt-toothed. The bark color varies from silver-gray to dark gray to brown.

You should see a tree crown that is made up of thick. doubletoothed with fine teeth between evenly spaced larger teeth. round ball-shaped tufts of pine needles at the ends of scattered branches with daylight in between. chunky bark. One side of the leaf is larger than the other as though the yellow leaf stem is slightly off on one side of the base circle. *If teeth do not start along edge until approximately onethird way from the base to tip. with gently sweeping. Then look up for pine needles. They are usually tall. elm . There are usually flattopped corky ridges along the twig between the leaves. are borne three in a cluster. upwardcurving spikes on the end of each scale. well-pruned trunks.winged (page 37) Trees of Medium Difficulty – Loblolly Pine LOBLOLLY PINE (a southern yellow pine) – In most of Tennessee. Three distinct veins come up from the base. bend them over against themselves. thick. fruit is in cones or burrs about 3−5” long with sharp. Tree trunk is light gray with corky warts in singles and clusters. loblolly pine will only be found growing in plantations but in wild stands they may be found growing in random fashion.C-3h Leaves are 1½−3” long and 1−1½” wide. the tree is sugarberry 20 45 . If you can reach the needles. Loblolly needles are flexible enough to bend double without breaking. bark round needle tufts C-3h Light green speartip-shaped leaves 2−4” long and 1−2’ wide with smooth edges around the base and fine teeth along the sides up to the tip. hackberry* (page 31) hackberry sugarberry Needles are 5−9” long. Look for dark. rectangular.

flat plates of bark. Thick. Drilling through the bark with a pocket knife will reveal a light pink color and sap that has a pungent smell. The bark often has long silver stripes up and down the trunk. dark green upper surface. 3−6” long. giving the leaves a very deep. lopsided base on leaf. with pointed tips and very rough sandpaper-feeling. slimy sap present when twig is broken. oval and double-toothed with fine teeth along edge between evenly spaced larger teeth. The base of the leaf is lopsided. dark gray and hard to the touch with shallow ridges running up and down the tree between wide. 46 19 . Dead lower branches are often persistent. leaf. 2½−4” wide and usually seven-lobed. elm . dull. highly figured base. “cut” appearance. elm – slippery (page 40) The leaves are simple. acorn upward view C-3g Double-toothed leaves 4−7” long and 2−3” wide are fairly oval. swollen base C-3f Leaves are 3−5” long. with one side higher on the leaf than the other. somewhat oblong or oval.Trees of Medium Difficulty – Scarlet Oak SCARLET OAK (a member of the red oak group) – Scarlet oak is usually a poorly formed tree with dead branches spiking out of the trunk and a swollen. The lobes are bristle-pointed and separated by rounded openings extending at least two-thirds of the distance to the midrib. alternate. The leaves turn a brilliant scarlet in the autumn before falling to the ground. The bark is tight.American (page 40) bud. This is especially true toward the crown.

They are usually round and indented in the center with a slightly raised perimeter. The distinguishing characteristic is the often-present pitch pockets on the surface of the tree’s bark. These pockmarks are small but easily visible with the naked eye and give the appearance of tiny replicas of moon craters. Leaf tip often curls down and to the side. brown trunk covered with large. Coarse-toothed edges. They are from 3−5” long.C-3d Leaves are 2−5” long. platy bark on a tree trunk that is usually well-pruned. and 1−2” wide. eastern cottonwood The needles are in bundles of two or three needles per bundle. Cones or burrs are small. 18 47 . The tree top is usually made up of thick clumps of upturned foliage growing on the top side of the limbs with daylight present between the clumps. generally clustered along the twig. long. Fruit clusters of two to three bluish-black berries often present in late summer. Needles stand in clumps on top of branches. blackgum (page 55) Trees of Medium Difficulty – Shortleaf Pine SHORTLEAF PINE – Shortleaf pine can be found growing as single trees mixed throughout the hardwood forest. smooth-edged with shiny dark green top upper surface. flat petiole. upturned needles pitch pockets C-3e Triangular-shaped leaf with base that is almost straight across. flexible and dark green. oval speartip-shaped. 1½−2½” long with sharp prickles. It has a tall. slender.

It has thick.Trees of Medium Difficulty – Sourwood SOURWOOD – Sourwood is a small tree (usually less than 10 inches in diameter at chest height). chunky silver gray to reddish-brown bark and often grows with a curved trunk and top that droops over. If you are lucky. and paler below. thick and shiny above. First-year twigs are strong. straight and often are bright red. basswood leaf C-3c Oval to speartip-shaped leaves 2−4” long and 1−1½” wide. sharp-toothed margins. with finely toothed margins. 3½−5½” leaf with one side of the base higher than the other. alternate. Large trees usually have sprouts growing around the tree’s base. Rounded to an abrupt tip with coarse. curved teeth. Stem releases pungent odor when scraped with fingernail. The blade is soft-textured. 48 17 . Chewing small twigs or rolling up and chewing on the leaf will produce a very sour taste. black cherry (page 42) The leaves are from 5−7” long and 1−3” wide. there will be long. tree bark C-3b Heart-shaped. simple. fine clusters of very small fruit capsules hanging down from the ends of the branches. Small nodules often protrude from both sides of petiole just below leaf blade. Edges broken by many fine.

hackberry. Parallel rows of ¼”. lighter green beneath. straight veins that stand out along the bottom of the leaf. pointed lobes. sourwood. bark variations bark variations twig. sugarberry Trees of Medium Difficulty – Sugar Maple SUGAR MAPLE – Sugar maple can often be identified by the often-present. leaf. basswood. 16 49 . star shape with deep V sinuses and long. Twig has pronounced zigzag pattern with long. turning in autumn to brilliant shades of orange and clear yellow. The divisions between the lobes are rounded. seed C-3a Spear-shaped. blackgum.diameter holes made by sapsuckers may often be found on the trunk. sharp-tipped leaves 3− 5” long with toothed edges and very prominent. side-curling bark that is very tough and hard to break off. Leaf veins fan out from the base of the leaf at the stem. the bark begins to turn black at the base and begins to split and curl from the side. Sugar maples grown in the woods usually have lower limbs that grow out from the tree at 90-degree angles to the tree trunk. slender bud and leaf attached to the outside turning points of the pattern. Young trees are smooth and gray but as the tree gets larger. with three to five pointed and sparsely toothed lobes. The leaves are dark green on the upper surface. sweetgum (page 50) C-3 Leaves Have No Lobes American beech. river birch. black cherry.C-2e 4−7” wide leaf forms a distinctive. persimmon. American beech (page 26) The leaves are 3−5” across. The limb angle becomes more acute in upper limbs. solid black. burned-looking areas on the lower parts of the tree trunk and/or the long strips of tight. Even when it is curling. opposite. five-pointed. the bark remains very tough and hard to break off. elms. cottonwood. simple.

is 5−7” across and very aromatic when crushed. 60) upland red oak black oak blackjack oak northern red oak tree shingle oak southern red oak scarlet oak lowland red oaks leaf fruit cherrybark oak Nuttall oak pin oak water oak Shumard oak twig The simple. The fruit capsules are usually about the size of a golf ball and look like starbursts on a stem because they have sharp open points pointing in all directions. In the fall its coloring is brilliant. red oaks (pages 46. with prominent lobes and deep. 54. corklike bark. It is tall. Many of the limbs may have one or more corky ridges growing along their lengths. Leaf veins to lobes start from several places along the central leaf vein. 50 15 willow oak . ranging from pale yellow through orange and red to a deep bronze.Trees of Medium Difficulty – Sweetgum SWEETGUM – Sweetgum has a light gray. There is a definite bristle on the end of each lobe. 57. with its five to seven points or lobes. alternate star-shaped leaf. rough. with a narrow “teepee” shaped top. bark C-2d Leaves are tough and vary in size and shape but usually are from 4−7” long and 1−5” wide. rounded sinuses between lobes.

usually complete with dead stubs up and down the trunk. The cones or burrs average about 2 inches in length. Looking up through the tree’s canopy presents the overall effect of a consistently thin. have four pointed lobes forming a distinct tulip shape. yellow-poplar (tulip-poplar) (page 38) C-2c Leaf is wide and irregularly fan-shaped. 51 . brown. The distinguishing characteristics include thin. flaky bark. Center vein ends in center of sinus. soft. The tree crown is fairly thin and uniform throughout instead of the usual heavy clumps of greenery between open spaces seen in most southern yellow pines. trees bark upward view The twisted and spreading needles are borne two in a bundle. usually slightly longer and wider than a man’s hand. They vary from 1½−3” in length. Major veins for the leaf all originate at the base stem of the leaf and fan out like fingers into the lobes. They are narrow and often slightly curved.C-2b Leaves the size of a man’s hand. sycamore (page 34) 14 Trees of Medium Difficulty – Virginia Pines VIRGINIA PINE (a southern yellow pine) − Virginia pines usually grow up together as a pure stand but sometimes are mixed with shortleaf and other pines. lacy. with small prickles. are yellow-green and are shorter than those of any other pine native to Tennessee. filtered light.

Trees of Medium Difficulty − White Oak WHITE OAK – White oak has one of the lightest-colored barks in Tennessee’s forests. roughtextured leaves with some leaves having no lobes. Sections of bark that are peeling loose from the side can be easily broken off. The bark feels soft to the touch and crumbles off the tree when rubbed. They are deeply divided into five to nine rounded. It typically is very light gray with a texture that varies from medium rough and tight bark to long strips cracking loose and sometimes peeling from the side. Mature leaves are bright green above and much paler below. 52 C-2a Trees may have mixture of 3−5” long. Crushed leaves have distinct orange peel fragrance. yellow-poplar. red mulberry 13 . White oaks are often among the largest trees in the forest. sweetgum. They have large. sassafras (page 59) upward view C-2 Leaves Have Pointed Lobes red mulberry. two lobes or three lobes all growing together in the crown. bark C-1b Tree may have a mixture of 3−5” leaves having no lobes. finger-like lobes with no spikes. The edges of the leaves are rough and jagged toothed. red oaks The leaves are 5−9” long and about half as broad. two lobes or three lobes all growing together to form the tree crown. Edges of the leaves are smooth. sycamore. well-spaced branches. strong. giving the lobed leaves the look of mittens.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . sassafras C-1a Leaves are tough. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blackgum . . . . . . . . . . . Sassafras . . . . with the main leaf vein ending at the center of the center tooth or leaf lobe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .C. . . . . . . . . . The outside edge of the leaf is smooth. . . Red maple . . . . . . Hickory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . while veins to the other teeth or lobes are at different places along the central vein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Northern red oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . white oaks (pages 44. upland white oaks white oak chinkapin oak overcup oak swamp white oak post oak chestnut oak swamp chestnut oak bur oak lowland white oaks 12 Ozone Falls (Cumberland County) 53 Page 54 55 56 57 58 59 54 60 . . . . . . . . . Southern red oak . . Alternate Arrangement Simple Leaves Leaves have rounded lobes (go to C-1) Leaves have pointed lobes (go to C-2) Leaves have no lobes (go to C-3) C-1 Leaves have rounded lobes white oaks. . 52) Trees That Require Close Examination Name Black oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shumard oak . varying in size and shape but almost always have the same number of rounded lobes or blunt teeth on each side of the leaf. . .

with balanced sets of stronglooking limbs in their tops. buckeye tree trunk Shumard oak leaf 54 11 . tough. If the crushed leaf or stem has a foul odor. very bittertasting inner bark. Red buckeye is shrubsized with rounded shape and root sprouts forming clumps of new trees. rough and dark charcoal gray. black oak bark black oak leaf B-3 Five leaflets that fan out like spread fingers from the same point at the end of the leaf petiole. These oaks are often the largest trees in the forest. the tree is Ohio buckeye. the tree is either yellow or red buckeye. Leaflets are bright green on top and yellow on the bottom. Their bark and form are so close in characteristics they have to be separated by cutting a small hole in the bark crevasse to expose the inner bark. Black oak will have bright orange to yellow. The bark of both trees is very tight. Shumard oak’s inner bark is a medium brown. If the crushed leaf or stem has no odor.Trees That Require Close Examination – Black Oak. Yellow buckeye grows to be a large tree and is not usually found in clumps. Edges may be both fine and coarse-toothed. Shumard Oak BLACK OAK – Black oak and Shumard oak are members of the red oak group.

Green ash has a prominent bud nestled in the crotch between the twig and leaf. Healthy leaves are a deep. slender and often green. boxelder (page 43) The leaves are simple. then rounding down to the tip on the end of the leaf. gently flaring out to a maximum width at a point approximately two-thirds of the way toward the end of the leaf. 10 55 . White ash has a small bud that is buried in the crotch and not readily visible to the naked eye. leaves bark B-2 Leaves are 8−12” long and have 2−4” leaflets that have several shapes.B Opposite Arrangement Compound Leaves ash. buckeye B-1 8−12” leaves have three to seven. 2−5” long and 1½−3” wide. especially if the tree is exposed to enough sunlight to encourage side growth. ash (page 27) green ash white ash Trees That Require Close Examination − Blackgum BLACKGUM − The silver-gray to almost black bark of larger blackgums often so closely resembles oak or elm that at first glance the tree may be misidentified. Edges are toothed. often twisted branches growing out of the tree trunk at 90-degree angles. Twigs ends look large and blunt. protruding tip on the end. narrow. with some jutting out to the side like pointed thumbs. boxelder. Twigs are long. dark. Looking up will reveal a crown filled with unusually small. lustrous green. The edges are almost always smooth. Shape varies from broadly oval to narrow at the base. relatively short. Most leaves have a short. The lower branches of younger trees will often droop dramatically. 1½−4” long leaflets growing along the sides and on the end of the leaf stalk.

silvery beneath. ranging from tight and “glued on” criss-crossed XX bark furrows to a rougher bark that makes long. sugar maple (page 49) bark A-4 Leaves are 5−7” long and. The leaf is 8−14” long with from five to nine fine-toothed leaflets that are usually yellow-green on top and paler on the bottom. with large marginal teeth. Leaflets come off a central leaf stem at intervals along the side and off the end of the stem. stronger limbs.Trees That Require Close Examination − Hickory HICKORY – The tight-barked members of the hickory group can be very difficult to recognize in the winter. leaves. tree trunk fruit. Deep U-shaped sinuses between lobes. gray bark. The bark is very tough and often feels like steel armor. There may be a splattering of small silver flecks scattered up and down the bark. Taller trees still competing in the overstory for light may have limbs that fork upward with longer. Smaller trees in the understory will have short limbs growing at right angles to the tree trunk. deeply-lobed. silver maple The compound leaves have an alternate arrangement. Branch ends are short and wavy. 56 9 . Distinguishing characteristics include tight. rough ridges and valleys up and down the tree. The ridges often crack into sections with cross cracks running horizontal to the tree. twigs A-3 Smooth leaves are 3−5” long and wide with smooth edges along five main lobes that have pointed tips.

flowering dogwood (page 30) Trees That Require Close Examination – N. Northern red oak can be confused with scarlet oak. It has strong. dull green above. Usually there are three large lobes and sometimes two more smaller lobes. but northern red oak is usually a larger. divided into seven to nine lobes. wide. Looking up into the tree will usually reveal long. silver streaks along the tops of the bark plates on the trunk and major branches. well-pruned. cleanly pruned tree. The sinuses between each lobe forms a sharp V notch. often silver-topped plates of bark. sugar maple. alternate. 57 . wellspread limbs and dark gray bark that has long fissures lying up and down the tree between long. and better-formed tree with odorless sap. broader toward the tip. silver topped bark upward view A-2 Smooth leaves with red petiole are 2½−4” in length and width with toothed edges along the lobes. 3−5” long and 2−3” wide with smooth but wavy outer edges. often turning a brilliant red after frost. slightly concave. wide. red maple. red maple (page 58) 8 Leaves are simple.A Opposite Arrangement Simple Leaves flowering dogwood. paler below. 5−9” long and 3−5” wide. The veins make pronounced sweeping upward curves from the center line of the leaf to the outside edge. bristle-tipped and firm. each lobe being somewhat coarsely toothed. silver maple A-1 Dark green leaves are football-shaped. Red Oak NORTHERN RED OAK – Northern red oak often grows to be a very large.

twig. grayish-brown. The crotch between trunk and limbs on red maple is usually narrow. Slender young branch tips are often bright red. very small pimples can usually be found scattered over the smooth surface. flaky bark that is heaviest at the base and becomes smoother up the trunk. buds and branches that have alternate arrangements with compound leaves (go to D).Trees That Require Close Examination – Red Maple RED MAPLE – Red maple is a challenge to identify because of the way it changes characteristics as it gets larger. The sinuses between each lobe form a sharp V-notch. 2b. buds and branches that have opposite arrangement with simple leaves (go to A). fruit 2c. light gray bark when it is small. Leaves. Leaves are 2½−4” in length and width with wide but jagged edges along the lobes. buds and branches that have alternate arrangement with simple leaves (go to C). 58 2d. Leaves. bark characteristics 2 Leaves That Are Broad and Flat 2a. This tree has slick. buds and branches that have opposite arrangement with compound leaves (go to B). Usually there are three large lobes and sometimes two smaller ones. As it gets larger it develops a thicker. 7 . Leaves. Full-grown trees may have flaky bark all the way up into the limbs. While this bark is in transition and smooth patches of bark are still present. leaf. Leaves.

1c . Limbs are clustered and twisted into an unkempt-looking top.. baldcypress (page 41) Sassafras may have a mixture of 3−5” long leaves with no lobes. giving the lobed leaves the look of mittens. Edges of the leaves are smooth. Needles lay flat (eastern). growing feather-like in two rows along lateral branches. Needles turn dull red and drop in fall. two lobes or three lobes. along the bottom of each leaf. Needles stick out in all directions (Carolina). bark leaves 1d . eastern white pine (page 36) Trees That Require Close Examination – Sassafras SASSAFRAS – Sassafras has thick. flexible.Soft. 3 − 5” and growing in bundles of five. hemlocks (page 32) eastern hemlock Carolina hemlock 1e . rough reddish-brown to weathered silver bark that often causes it to be confused with other trees.Flat needles are ½−¾” long with blunt ends. Smelling the fresh-cut slice will usually be rewarded with the distinctive sassafras smell that resembles the smell of root beer. Each needle has white lines along the length of the bottom edge. including black walnut. limbs growing from trunk at distinct intervals in whorls. leaving stubby pegs on the branch.Needles are lime green to yellow-green ½−¾” long. 6 59 . Slicing off the surface of the bark will reveal a pale orange inner bark. Needles stand on small pegs. Dark grayblack bark. Two parallel pale blue lines often present. all growing on the same limb. blue-green needles. Twigs are bright green and brittle.

Very small blue-green scale-like leaves growing on all four sides in tight aromatic prickly top. 60 5 . Bark color varies from light gray to black. rough-topped ridges and shallow valleys to clusters of plastered wet corn flakes.Trees That Require Close Examination – S. fine lines and flecks present. The inner bark is various shades of brown. sometimes with cream-colored. short. It usually has a round. trunk upward view bark Leaf Key to Trees Common in Tennessee Leaves are needle-like or scale-like (go to 1) Leaves are broad. This bark is hard and rough-textured. 51) loblolly pine shortleaf pine Virginia pine three needles 6−9” long two and three needles 3−5” long two twisted needles 1½ −3” long Mature leaves are usually 5−7” long and dark green. eastern redcedar (page 29) 1b .Southern red oak is one of Tennessee’s most common trees. southern yellow pines.Needles growing in bundles with two to three needles in each bundle. Red Oak SOUTHERN RED OAK. white pine. The hard bark is very rough but thin (less than ⅜” thick). lichens growing on the bark often give the tree a greenish look. southern yellow pines (pages 45. flat and mostly deciduous (go to 2) 1 Needle-Like or Scale-Like Leaves eastern redcedar. All lobes are bristle-tipped. hemlocks. baldcypress 1a . When present. giving the illusion of its being compressed and glued to the tree. The long central lobe and two shorter opposite-side lobes often give leaf a “turkey foot” look. 47. well-pruned trunk with a slight swell at the base and good form up to strong. Bark patterns vary from long. Leaves may also have smaller additional side lobes. well-spaced limbs at the top.

. . 7. Simple leaf − A leaf that has only one leaflet attached to the tree limb. . . Bristle tip − The portion of the leaf that projects out from the central leaf like a finger on a hand. . . .Summer Leaf Key APPENDIX Definitions Needed to Understand Tree Key The following terms need to be understood to use the tree guide. Lobe spikes − Needle-like point sticking out at the end of each lobe. . . . . 3. . Needle − Long. . . . . . Toothed margin − Coarse to fine-toothed edges. . . . Common and Scientific Tree Names . . . . . 8. . A special thank you is given to Wayne Clatterbuck for producing the book. . Page 61 62 64 66 Acknowledgements: This booklet is a joint production of the Department of Agriculture. 5. Forestry Division and University of Tennessee Extension. . . 1. . . . . Leaf sinus − The dip in the leaf between the lobes. Notes . . Doug McLaren. . . . . . . Compound leaf − A leaf that has two or more leaflets attached to a central leaf stem that is in turn attached to the tree limb. . . . . 9. . . . Opposite growth pattern − Twigs and/or leaves are attached to the limb directly across from one another. . . thin leaf shaped like a sewing needle. Alternate growth pattern − twigs and/or leaves are attached to the limb in a zigzag pattern where the attachments on either side are not directly across from one another. . Funding for the initial printing was provided by a grant from the USDA Forest Service. 2. Compound leaf 61 . . . 6. 4. . . and Wanda Russell for her editing skills. . . . Winter ID Quick Reference Guide . Simple leaf Needle leaf 4 Acknowledgements . David Mercker and Scott Schlarbaum for their critical reviews. .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Black walnut (Juglans nigra) . . . . Elm (Ulmus) American elm (Ulmus americana) . . . .Common and Scientific Names For Trees Listed in this Booklet. . . . . . . . Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) . . . . . Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra . . . . . . . . . . Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maple (Acer) Red maple (Acer rubrum) . . . Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) . . . . Shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa) . . . American (Tilia americana) . . Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) . . . . . . . . . . White ash (Fraxinus americana) . . . Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) . . . . Buckeye (Aesculus) Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) . . . . . . . . . . . Mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa) . . . Well-Drained Coves Pages 16 26 10 10 17 6 17 23 18 10 27 27 41 42 28 55 43 11 11 11 18 5 29 19 19 20 8 20 40 40 37 30 31 6 6 32 32 22 22 22 22 22 56 56 56 35 35 23 23 33 33 8 9 9 58 ash black oak chinkapin oak hickory scarlet oak white pine beech black walnut elm northern red oak shortleaf pine yellow-poplar black cherry blackgum hemlock red maple Shumard oak Trees Likely to Be Found Growing on Dry. . . Ash (Fraxinus) Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) . . . . Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) . . . . . Pignut hickory (Carya glabra) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Locust (Robinia) Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) . . . . . . . . . . . . Name American beech (Fagus grandifolia) . Hickory (Carya) Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) . . . . . . . . . . . . Black cherry (Prunus serotina) . . . . Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) . . . . . . . . Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winged elm (Ulmus alata) . . . Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) . . . . . . . . . . . Hemlock (Tsuga) Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) . 62 Trees Likely to Be Found Growing in Deep. . . Basswood. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . South-Facing. . . . . . Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) . . . . . . . . Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) . . . Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) . . . . . . . Boxelder (Acer negundo) . . . . Middle Slopes ash blackjack oak eastern redcedar loblolly pine red maple sourwood Virginia pine black oak chestnut oak hackberry locust scarlet oak southern red oak white oak blackgum chinkapin oak hickory post oak shortleaf pine sugarberry Trees Likely to Be Found Growing on Dry Ridge Tops ash chestnut oak loblolly pine scarlet oak Virginia pine black oak eastern redcedar post oak shortleaf pine 49 3 blackjack oak hickory red maple southern red oak . . . .

. some grow in wet places. . . . . . . . well-drained soils of flat to easy rolling land. .. Trees Likely to Be Found Growing On Well-Drained Land ash black oak bur oak hackberry pecan river birch shingle oak sourwood sugarberry white oak beech black walnut cottonwood hickory persimmon sassafras shortleaf pine southern red oak swamp white oak white pine black cherry blackgum flowering dogwood locust red maple scarlet oak southern red oak sugar maple Virginia pine Trees Likely to Be Found Growing In Swampy Areas and Beside Streams ash boxelder hemlock overcup oak red maple swamp chestnut oak silver maple willow oak baldcypress cherrybark oak mulberry pin oak river birch swamp white oak sycamore yellow-poplar 2 beech cottonwood Nuttall oak red buckeye Shumard oak sweetgum water oak Name Oak (Quercus) Black oak (Quercus velutina) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . But. . . . . . . . Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) . . . Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) . . . . . . . . . some in moist. . . . . . . . Water oak (Quercus nigra) . . . Yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) . . . Swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii) . . . . . . . . . . White oak (Quercus alba) . . . . . . . . Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) . . Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) . . . . . . . . . Overcup oak (Quercus stellata) . . . . . . . . . . Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) . . . . . . Southern red oak (Quercus falcata) . . . . . . . Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) . . 63 Pages 15 15 12 15 12 12 15 15 12 15 12 15 15 15 15 12 12 15 12 15 21 5 5 5 6 13 21 13 22 20 16 14 14 54 44 57 46 60 54 52 45 47 51 36 59 48 31 50 34 38 . . Shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) . . . . . Check the following guides to find the trees most likely to be encountered on any given site in Tennessee. Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) . . Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) . . . . . . . Red mulberry (Morus rubra) . Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) . Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) . . . . . . . . . . . Cherrybark oak (Quercus pagoda) . . . most trees prefer to grow in places that suit their particular needs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . dry ridge tops and warmer. . . . . . . . . . Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . south-facing slopes. . . . . . . . Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) . . . . . well-drained coves. . . . Pin oak (Quercus palustris) . . . . . . Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) . . . . . . . . . . . .Tennessee Terrain Common and Scientific Names For Trees Listed in This Booklet Some trees can be found growing on many different sites. . . . . Pine (Pinus) Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) . . and some on hot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) . . . . . . Willow oak (Quercus phellos) . . . Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) . . . Knowing which trees are most likely to be encountered in different parts of Tennessee and on given sites can help speed up proper identification. . . . . But. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . River birch (Betula nigra) .. . . . . . . Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) . . . . . . Post oak (Quercus stellata) . . White pine (Pinus strobus) . . . . . . hollows or north-facing slopes. Almost all trees like to grow in the deep. . . . . . . . . .

but human contact does not normally cause a rash. The many closely spaced branches of the vine may reach out 3 feet or more from the tree. and closely attached to the supporting tree. The vine may climb 20 feet or more up the tree. Leaflets average 3−5” long and 2−4” wide. Avoidance is the best protection. Virginia creeper has five leaflet cluster leaves and is often wrongly called poison oak. Poison ivy leaves are attached to the branch in clusters of three leaflets. It is harmless. Climbing poison ivy vines are dark gray-brown. very “hairy” looking. 1 . have a large tooth-shaped lobe on one side. itchy rash. foliage vine climbing tree Contact with almost any part of the plant any time of year can cause the skin to break out in a severe. or have one large tooth-shaped lobe on each side.Notes _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ 64 Poison Ivy Alert POISON IVY− Poison ivy is a common forest vine that grows along the ground and often climbs trees. They may be toothless. When it climbs a tree it sometimes becomes so large and thick that it can be misidentified as being part of the tree. Virginia creeper is also a common vine that climbs forest trees.

8. Notes _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ Be all that you can be! 65 i . 4. To identify trees not listed in this book. thickest and roughest at the base of the tree trunk and youngest. university and USDA Forest Service Web pages are usually the best Internet tree identification sites. Even the best professional foresters occasionally have trouble identifying trees. Tree bark is oldest. taste or feel that helps in identification. If necessary. supplemental identification clues can be gathered from the leaves. 7. Some trees may have a unique smell. 5. Learn bark characteristics and tree shape as quickly as possible. Use all of your senses. State. Get ready for variability! Tree leaves may vary in size on the same tree. 3. twigs and fruit lying on the ground under the tree. thinnest and smoothest on the branch tips. 6. Always remember that these items may have come from a neighboring tree. pack or cruiser’s jacket.PREFACE This booklet was prepared by professional foresters to help you identify Tennessee’s most common trees. then go to the Internet or other ID books to make the identification. Relax and have fun. It is designed to go to the woods with you (where it is needed) by comfortably riding in your back pocket. Leaves are not present on many trees at least half of the year. There is usually a slow transition in bark pattern and thickness between the two points. collect or photograph samples that include several leaves and buds. Some trees may have more than one leaf shape growing on the same tree. Enjoy! USEFUL TIPS 1. Leaves growing in the shade are often much larger than leaves exposed to full sun. 2.

retained dead branches. 40 Light cream to tan inner bark: ash 10. Clatterbuck Associate Professor University of Tennessee Forestry. 31 or sugarberry 20. 43 or sassafras Branches grow from trunk in spaced sets of wagon wheel whorls: white pine Corky ridges on small branches: winged elm or: sweetgum 15. 26 Peeling. thin tan bark revealing large. 59 Bright yellow/orange. Williams Area Forester Tennessee Division of Forestry Edited by: Wayne K. 50 Identifying Common Tennessee Trees Written by: Michael D. pale blue-green/silver gray patches: sycamore 14. (on dry site): shagbark hickory 22. Wildlife and Fisheries Photographs by: Russ Cox Nathan Waters Mike Williams Illustrations taken from: Common Forest Trees of Tennessee 10th edition 1965. armor-like bark peeling from top and bottom or from bottom up. 37 16. 27 Pale orange inner bark with root beer smell: sassafras 13. smooth. 35 Long strips of hard. 58 Limb Characteristics Wide silver streaks on top of bark plates. armor-like bark peeling from top and bottom or from bottom up. gray to black bark peels from side in long ridges: sugar maple 9. 34 Thorns on tree trunk and limbs: locust 23. mouse gray with warts: hackberry 20. 52 Silver-white chalk dust in bark cracks: yellow-poplar 14.Winter Identification Quick Reference Guide Bark Characteristics The All Season Pocket Guide To Smooth. 58 Soft. no smell: black oak 15. pruned cleanly no sap smell: northern red oak Wide silver streaks on top of bark plates. 57 15. 38 Variable bark with pimples on smooth sections: red maple 8. holding leaf stems (on wet site): shellbark hickory 22. tough to break. bitter tasting inner bark. 35 Hard. 28 Reddish brown inner bark with white lines: American elm 19. mouse gray. 47 13. easily broken light gray bark may peel from side in long ridges: white oak 12. no large warts: American beech 16. 54 Long strips of hard. (used by permission) or drawn by Mike Williams 2005 66 . 59 6. no white rings: black walnut 23. 36 20. 31 Smooth. 46 5. 33 Chocolate brown inner bark. sap has pungent smell: scarlet oak Pine tree with resin pockets on bark: shortleaf pine Long green twigs: boxelder …10.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 5. . . . . Summer Leaf Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trees That Require Close Examination . . . . . . . . Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tree Characteristics INDEX Subject Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . blunt-tipped needles with blue/white stripes along bottom. . . . . 47 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .html 67 5. . . . . . . . evergreen scale-like needles: eastern redcedar Layered branches filled with flat. . . . . . . prickly. . . . . . . . . . .edu Visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. . Trees of Medium Difficulty . . . . . . . . Easy-to-Identify Trees . . . . . . Common and Scientific . . . . . . . . needles point in all directions: Carolina hemlock Visit the University of Tennessee Extension Web site at http://www. . .Useful Tips . . . . . dead limbs retained on trunk: Virginia pine Pine tree with round needle balls at twig end: loblolly pine Pine tree with needles seeming to rest on top of the branches: shortleaf pine Thick crown of tiny. . 32 . . . . . Page i 1 2 4 5 24 25 39 53 61 61 62 64 66 (Evergreen trees) Pine tree with soft lacy appearance with filtered light through needles. . blunt-tipped needles with blue/white stripes along bottom. . . . . . . . 45 5. . . . . Acknowledgements . .us/agriculture/forestry/index. . 29 6. .state. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Forestry Division Web site at http://www.utextension. . . . . .utk. . . Tree Names. . . . . . . . . . . Summer Leaf Key Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . Notes . . . . needles lay flat along edges of the twig: eastern hemlock Layered branches filled with flat. . . .tn. . . . Tennessee Terrain . Winter Identification Quick Reference Guide . 32 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winter Identification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Poison Ivy Warning . . . . . .

4-H youth development. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. and resource development. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. PB1756 The All Season Pocket Guide To TREE BARK IDENTIFICATION white oak yellow-poplar Identifying Common Tennessee Trees black walnut PB1756-5M-9/08 (Rep) R12-4910-098-004-09 Programs in agriculture and natural resources. family and consumer sciences. SUMMER/WINTER TREE IDENTIFICATION . U.Proper tree identification is the first step to understanding and managing our forests.S.

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