Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

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JHarkness
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Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by JHarkness » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:28 pm

ENTS,

Lately I've found myself straying further and further from conventional methods of tree identification, essentially bark, leaves, buds, etc. It has become clear to me that so many people must look at fine details of a tree to identify it, but they don't see the big picture, that is the whole tree. The form, trunk shape, crown structure, branching pattern, twig arrangement are all much better, and easier, means of tree identification to me. Wondering how many others are able to identify a tree without bark, leaves, fruits or buds, I've decided to post this thread as a quiz to my fellow NTS members. Think of this as a "guess that tree" game.
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Joshua Harkness
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:43 am

Some guesses:

1. If I saw this in a forest around here, Fraxinus pensylvanica. I can't see a single properly opposite pair of fine twigs but the overall branch structure and bark is actually typical for green ash in my area, which usually only shows opposite twigs in the finest young twigging. Out where you are, I don't know, it's probably some Carya I never see over here (just cordiformis and ovata here).

2. Liriodendron tulipifera

3. Quercus rubra

4. Carya cordiformis

5. Acer saccharum

6. Quercus velutina

7. Ostrya? Sure looks like something betulaceae, or else Ulmus.

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JHarkness
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by JHarkness » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:21 pm

Erik,

Yes, #1 is a Carya. But I do see how it resembles Fraxinus pennsylvanica, I honestly don't see much green ash in my area, though it is around. The form you described can be seen here but not frequently, the majority of the F. pennsylvanica I see in the area actually resembles F. Americana almost perfectly, though the trees tend to be stouter with slightly messier crowns, though there often isn't much significant difference in crown structure. Many clearly opposite twigs can commonly be seen on F. pennsylvanica in this area. I find it interesting how much some tree species vary in their characteristics between eastern and western New York, but yet I've never observed much of a difference between northern and southern New York, at least in the eastern half of the state, to make it all a bit stranger, so it seems these characteristics are more or less influenced by soil chemistry instead of climate and weather. The irony is that I actually was going to upload an image of a green ash crown as image #1 instead of the hickory.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:29 pm

Josh, I'm inclined to think there may be a degree of genetic drift between coastal and inland populations particularly for species like green ash that tend to lower elevations and the downstream reaches of watersheds. In the case of F. pensylvanica, both var. lanceolata and var. pensylvanica are distinct here (with pensylvanica more common).
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Fraxinus pensylvanica on the left, F. americana on the right, to give a sense of their strong contrast. It appears that pensylvanica is likely to lose one of the two opposite twigs at each node, leading to asymetrical messy twigging, while americana often retains both twigs resulting in its graceful symmetry.
Fraxinus pensylvanica on the left, F. americana on the right, to give a sense of their strong contrast. It appears that pensylvanica is likely to lose one of the two opposite twigs at each node, leading to asymetrical messy twigging, while americana often retains both twigs resulting in its graceful symmetry.
Looking into the crowns of Fraxinus pensylvanica displaying the twigging typical of populations here on the lake plain.
Looking into the crowns of Fraxinus pensylvanica displaying the twigging typical of populations here on the lake plain.

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dbhguru
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by dbhguru » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:40 pm

Joshua and Erik,

A quick scan told me that 2 was tulip tree. No question. Three was N. red oak. The green ash tracks with the characteristics with which I am most familiar. Sugar maple was problematic for me. Got to figure out why.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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ElijahW
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by ElijahW » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:04 pm

Joshua,

My guesses:

1. Carya ovalis
2. Liriodendron tulipifera
3. Quercus rubra
4. Carya cordiformis
5. Acer saccharum
6. Quercus velutina
7. Ostrya virginiana

#7, like Erik wrote, is difficult to nail down. The hickories are tricky, as well; high-up twigs are hard to tell apart. If I got more than three correct, I’ll be happy.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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JHarkness
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by JHarkness » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:23 pm

Good guesses so far, I won't list their identifications yet in case anyone else joins in. I suppose I now need to visit one of the trees in my first post, as I'm not even sure of its identification!

Here are a few more, if anyone else has photos of tree form or branch structure, I encourage you to post photos to this thread as well.
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"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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JHarkness
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Re: Tree Identification Based on Form Quiz

Post by JHarkness » Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:43 pm

Since no one else has responded, I will go ahead and put up the identifications for the trees in the first post, ignoring the second for now.

1 - Pignut hickory (Carya glabra)
2 - Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
3 - Northern red oak (Quercus rubra)
4 - Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis)
5 - Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
6 - Black oak (Quercus velutina), a most interesting one considering that it stands out from all of the black oak at the site and does not match the form of any of the black oak in the area, it certainly appears to be naturally occurring despite being near the edge of its range, I even mistook this tree for a Q. rubra as it is nearly identical in form and bark characteristics to several nearby trees that can be confirmed as Q. rubra by acorns, I visited this tree the other day to check acorns and buds, and sure enough, it is a perfect match for Q. velutina. Erik, Elijah, is this a form you typically see with Q. velutina in central and western NY? Naturally occurring ones here are almost always on poor soils and have evidence of severe ice/snow damage, the bark is also far blockier and of a much rougher texture, more similar to black cherry than red oak.
7 - American basswood (Tilla Americana)

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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