Hawthorns: genus Crataegus

The Russian Olive: genus Elaeagnus

Scientific Name: Elaeagnus angustifolia (eely·AGnes ang·GUS·tiff·O·leea)
Common Name: Russian Olive
Family: Elaeagnaceae (eely·ag·NAY·see·ee)
Bark: Dark red-brown.
Buds:
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.
Flowers:
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 silvery hairs
Similar trees In winter, reminds me of a hop tree.
Twigs: Dark brown.

The Beeches: genus Fagus

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 the leaflets of the yellowwood do rather resemble beech leaves.
Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia "big-leafed beech"
Common Name: [American] beech
Family: Fagaceae (fay·GAY·see·ee)
Bark: Smooth, light grey. Very distinctive (but beware of Cladastris!)
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.
Flowers:
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.
Leaves: Simple, alternate, with shallow, coarsely serrate, 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 into winter.
Similar trees F. sylvatica has smaller, 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.
Twigs:
Scientific Name: Fagus sylvatica
Common Name: [European] beech
Family: Fagaceae (fay-GAY-see-ee)
Bark: Smooth, pale grey.
Buds:
Distinctive Characteristics:
Distribution: Cultivated tree.
Flowers:
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.
Leaves:
Similar trees See Fagus grandifolia.
Twigs:
The Ashes: genus Fraxinus
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 the hedge.

Scientific Name: Fraxinus americana (FRACK·sin·us uh·MER·ick·AH·nuh)
Common Name: White Ash.
Family: Oleaceae (oh·lee·YAY·see·ee)
Bark: Medium gray, with diamond-shaped pattern of ridges, growing deeper and coarser as tree ages. Sometimes young branches have orangish tinge in rain.
Buds:
Distinctive Characteristics: Bark, fruit.
Distribution: Native. Widely planted by roads, on lawns, in parks.
Flowers:
Fruit: A samara 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 samaras.
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
Bark:
Buds:
Distinctive Characteristics: Leaves identify it easily as an ash. Hard to distinguish from white ash.
Distribution:
Flowers:
Fruit:
Habit:
Habitat: Occasionally planted, more often stream banks.
Leaves:
Similar trees
Twigs:

The Maidenhair Tree: genus Ginkgo

Scientific Name: Ginkgo biloba (GING·koe by·LOE·buh) [hard G]
Common Name: Ginkgo, Maidenhair tree
Family: Ginkgoaceae
Bark: Light, somewhat blocky.
Buds:
Distinctive Characteristics: Fruit (by smell), leaves, habit.
Distribution: Uncommon, but out there. Native to China.
Flowers:
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.
Similar trees
Twigs: Leaves grow on spurs.
Copyright © 1989, 1997, 2009 Brian Laurence Hughes
Last modified: 2009 Dec 28 at 22:56 EST

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