Tree Identification Key

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Trees, like all named biological organisms, have both common and scientific (Latin bi-nomial) names. Both names are listed for each tree species covered in this handbook. Detailed descriptions for species included in this publication appear alphabetically by scientific name.

Contents below are listed by leaf shape/configuration, and sorted first by region, then alphabetically by scientific name


Common Name  Region

Trees with needle-like, scale-like or awl-shaped leaves
Needles: held in bundles
2 needles per bundle
Pinus glabra Spruce Pine N
Pinus clausa Sand Pine N. C. S
2 or 3 needles per bundle
Pinus echinata Shortleaf Pine N
Pinus elliotti Slash Pine N. C. S
3 needles per bundle
Pinus palustris Longleaf Pine N. C
Pinus taeda Loblolly Pine N. C
Pinus serotina (rarely 4/bundle) Pond Pine N
Needles: single, flat, soft
Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress N. C. S
Taxus floridana Florida Yew N (rare)
Needles: single, flat, stiff
Torreya taxifolia Florida Torreya N (rare)
Scales: tiny, overlapping
Chamaecyparis thyoides Atlantic White Cedar N
Juniperus virginiana Eastern Red Cedar N. C. S
Taxodium ascendens Pond Cypress N. C. S

Palms
Costapalmate leaves
Sabal palmetto Cabbage Palm N. C. S
Palmate leaves
Thrinax radiata Florida Thatch Palm S
Pinnate leaves
Roystonea regia Florida Royal Palm S

Trees with opposite or whorled leaves
Heart-shaped (cordate) leaf blade
Catalpa bignonioides Southern Catalpa N. C

Trees with opposite leaves
Simple leaves with lobes
Acer saccharum Florida Maple N. C
Acer rubrum Red Maple N. C. S
Simple leaves without lobes
Serrate leaf margins
Viburnum rufidulum Rusty Black Haw N. C
Entire leaf margins
Chionanthus virginicus Fringetree N. C
Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood N. C
Guapira discolor Blolly C. S
Entire and found near coast in tidal or brackish soils
Avicennia germinans Black Mangrove C. S
Laguncularia racemosa White Mangrove C. S
Rhizophora mangle Red Mangrove C. S
Pinnately compound leaves
Serrate margins
Acer negundo Boxelder N, C
Entire or partly serrate margins
Fraxinus pennsylvanica Green Ash N, C
Fraxious caroliniana Carolina Ash N, C, S
Palmately compound leaves
Aesculus pavia Red Buckeye N, C

Trees with Alternate Leaves
Heart-shaped (cordate) leaves
Populus heterophylla Swamp Cottonwood N
Tilia americana Basswood N
Cercis canadensis Eastern Redbud N,C
Rounded, almost circular leaves
Coccoloba uvifera Sea Grape C, S
Simple leaves with lobes
Variable leaf lobing on one tree
Sassafras albidum Sassafras N, C
Moros rubra Red Mulberry N, C, S
Sharp-pointed lobes
Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip Tree N
Platanus occidentalis Sycamore N
Quercus falcata Southern Red Oak N
Quercus shumardii Shumard Oak N
Quercus velutina Black Oak N
Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum N,C
Quercus laevis Turkey Oak N, C, S
Rounded lobes
Quercus alba White Oak N
Quercus lyrata Overcup Oak N
Quercus stellata Post Oak N
Quercus nigra Water Oak N, C, S
Simple leaves without lobes
Smooth (entire) leaf margins
Lower leaf surface or veins rusty brown
Magnolia grandiflora Southern Magnolia N,C
Sideroxylon lanuginosum Gum Bumelia N,C
Persea borbonia Redbay N, C, S
Lower surface silver gray
Quercus incana Bluejack Oak N, C
Magnolia virginiana Sweetbay N, C, S
Quercus virginiana Live Oak N, C, S
Lower surface chalky white
Magnolia macrophylla Bigleaf Magnolia N
Upper & lower surfaces similar
Cliftonia monophylla Black Titi N
Nyssa aquatica Water Tupelo N
Quercus phellos Willow Oak N
Nyssa sylvatica Black Tupelo N, C
Celtis laevigata (may have teeth) Sugarberry; Hackberry N, C, S
Diospyros virginiana Persimmon N, C, S
Quercus laurifolia Swamp Laurel Oak N, C, S
Annona glabra Pond Apple C, S
Coccoloba diversifolia Pigeon Plum C, S
Ficus aurea Strangler Fig C, S
Guapira discolor Blolly C, S
Sideroxylon foetidissimum Mastic C, S
Simple leaves without lobes
Sharp (serrata) teeth on leaf margins
Most leaves less than 1 inch broad
Planera aquatica Planer Tree N
Salix nigra Black Willow N
Myrica cerifera Wax Myrtle N, C, S
Most leaves more than 1 inch broad
Prominent, straight, parallel secondary veins
Fagus grandifolia American Beech N
Quercus muehlenbergii Chinquapin Oak N
Castanea pumila Chinquapin N, C
Doubly serrate margins and parallel secondary veins
Ulmus rubra Slippery Elm N
Carpinus caroliniana American Hornbeam N, C
Ostrya virginiana Eastern Hophornbeam N, C
Ulmus alata Winged Elm N, C
Ulmus americana Florida Elm N, C, S
Curved or inconspicuous secondary veins
Amelanchier arborea Downy Serviceberry N
Populus heterophylla Swamp Cottonwood N
Crataegus spp. Hawthorn N, C
Gordonia lasianthus Loblolly Bay N, C
Prunus americana American Plum N, C
Prunus serotina Black Cherry N, C
Prunus caroliniana (may lack teeth) Carolina Laurelcherry N, C, S
Rounded teeth on margins (crenate)
Quercus michauxii Swamp Chestnut Oak N, C
Hamamelis virginiana Witch-Hazel N, C
Spines on margins
llex opaca American Holly N, C

Compound Leaves
Odd pinnately compound
Entire margins
Exothea paniculata Inkwood C, S
Bursera simaruba Gumbo Limbo S
Metopium toxiferum Poisonwood S
Piscidia piscipula Jamaica Dogwood S
Serrate margins
Carya cordiformis Bitternut Hickory N
Carya alba Mockernut Hickory N, C
Carya aquatica Water Hickory N, C
Odd or even pinnataly compound
Juglans nigra Black Walnut N
Even pinnately compound
Gleditsia aquatica(may be bi-pinnate) Water Locust N, C
Swietenia mahagoni Mahogany S
Twice-pinnately compound
Lysiloma latisiliquum Wild Tamarind S
Gleditsia aquatica Water Locust N, C