Scientific Name: Elaeagnus angustifolia
Common Name: Russian Olive
Bark: Dark red-brown.
Distinctive Characteristics: Silvery foliage and fruit.
Distribution: Introduced to this country. Big in the Midwest, occasionally occurs as a weed in this area, or perhaps intentionally planted.
Fruit: Like a small olive covered with silvery fuzz.
Habit: Small (less than 15-20 feet), leaning tree.
Habitat: Waste places.
Leaves: Alternate, narrowly elliptical leaves covered with
Similar trees In winter, reminds me of a hop tree.
The bark of the beeches, smooth and gray, a common substrate for carvers of initials,
sets them apart from all trees in the area, except for the yellowwood. The
yellowwood has a pea-like flower & fruit, and compound leaves. Be aware that
of the yellowwood do rather resemble beech leaves.
Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia "big-leafed
Common Name: [American] beech
Family: Fagaceae (fay·GAY·see·ee)
Bark: Smooth, light grey. Very distinctive (but beware
Buds: Pointed, slender, dark brown. Almost 2 cm. long.
Distinctive Characteristics: Fruit, long pointy buds, thin grey bark, and pale persistent winter leaves.
Distribution: Common, native tree. Cultivated, but much
less commonly than F. sylvatica.
Fruit: Two nutlets, triangular in cross section, sit within
a husk covered with soft prickles. The husk divides into 4 lobes.
Habit: Oblong, large crown, with branches to within 3-5
feet from ground in open. Casts dense shade. A large, slow-growing tree.
Beeches in older denser woods (typically with Sugar Maple, Hemlock, and
Yellow Birch) have tall trunks lacking lower branches.
Habitat: A characteristic tree of moist, mature woods,
particularly on rocky hillsides. But is often found in open dry woods,
in the company of oaks.
Simple, alternate, with shallow, coarsely
, strong parallel veins.
Five inches long, three wide, with petiole 1 cm. Ovate to broadly
lanceolate, with acuminate tip, rounded base. Deciduous stipules.
Leaves turn bronzy-yellow in autumn, then pale tan, and hang on well
Similar trees F. sylvatica
more elliptical or oblong leaves, without teeth or the tapered apex.
This beech is never purple or bronze. Yellowwood has similar bark,
and the leaflets superficially resemble a beech's, but see description
of Yellowwood, Cladrastis
Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica
Common Name: [European] beech
Family: Fagaceae (fay-GAY-see-ee)
Bark: Smooth, pale grey.
Distribution: Cultivated tree.
Fruit: Two nutlets 15 mm long, triangular in cross section,
sit within a husk covered with soft prickles. The husk splits open from
the top into 4 lobes.
Habit: Dense, large, oblong crown, with branches very close to ground. A great climbing tree.
Habitat: Not found as escape. Look for it on lawns, in parks.
The genus Fraxinus is very
distinctive, but is not easy to separate into species. The
trees hybridize, and are not all are that distinctive. Most
ashes in this area are Fraxinus
americana. They are common in woods, and often
planted on lawns, and along roads. The ash has opposite,
pinnately compound leaves, distinctive buds, and a single
winged fruit, about 3 to 4 cm. long, and less than half a
cm. wide. Ashes self-seed profusely, and can be weeds.
When a female ash and a privet hedge are close to each
other, look for one and two foot young ashes growing inside
Scientific Name: Fraxinus americana
Common Name: White Ash.
Bark: Medium gray, with
diamond-shaped pattern of ridges, growing deeper and coarser as
tree ages. Sometimes young branches have orangish tinge in rain.
Distribution: Native. Widely
planted by roads, on lawns, in parks.
with a single wing. The
seed end is round and pointed, the wing end is rounded. About 4
cm. long, 5 mm. wide.
Habit: Young trees often
have the regular, oval shape of a Sugar Maple. Older trees
may spread more. A large, vigorous tree.
Habitat: Woods, fields, in
cultivation. Like the Norway Maple, it escapes rapidly from
cultivation (often into hedges and gardens) through its
Leaves: Opposite, pinnately
compound, subtly serrate leaflets. Leaves open late, and
fall early. Casts a thin shade. Fall color is between
yellow and a rather distinctive bronze.
Similar trees In winter,
resembles Norway Maple. Check buds, or look for fallen
fruits and rachides.
Twigs: Medium stout, forming
cross patterns with the branch.
Scientific Name: Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Common Name:Green ash
Family: Oleaceae (ohˇleeˇYAYˇseeˇee) The Olive Family
Leaves identify it easily as an ash. Hard to distinguish
from white ash.
Habitat: Occasionally planted, more often stream banks.
Ginkgo biloba (GING·koe
by·LOE·buh) [hard G]
Common Name: Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree
Bark: Light, somewhat blocky.
Distinctive Characteristics: Fruit (by smell), leaves,
Distribution: Uncommon, but out there. Native to China.
Fruit: None, this tree is a gymnosperm, like the conifers.
Habit: Long, straight trunk, few side limbs, tertiary branches are spur shoots.
Habitat: In cultivation.
Leaves: Goofy looking things shaped like fans, most with
a notch at outer margin. Handsome yellow color in fall.
Seeds: Fruit-like. Thin outer skin, pulp, papery-
shelled inner layer surrounding embryo. Orange to yellow, and foul-smelling.
An inch or less in diameter.
Twigs: Leaves grow on spurs.