Identification of trees of the northeastern United States

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Regional floras typically contain complete dichotomous keys for identification of trees and other plants to species (e.g. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada by Henry A. Gleason and Arthur Cronquist).[1] The following guide originates from Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them by Harriet L. Keeler and applies to some flowering trees which are indigenous to the region extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains and from Canada to the northern boundaries of the southern states, together with a few well-known and naturalized foreign trees.[2] This guide excludes conifers and is not an exhaustive list of all trees known to occur in the region.[3]

Use of the guide[edit]

Trees can be identified by examination of several characteristics. The typical leaves of a species should be secured from mature trees, not young ones. The leaflets of a compound leaf can be distinguished from simple leaves by the absence of leaf buds from the base of their stems.

To identify a tree check one of the following characteristics, and if it is present then examine the characteristics at the next level of indentation. For example, if the tree has simple leaves then check whether the leaves alternate along stem or leaves are opposite along stem.

Chart of leaf morphology characteristics

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada (2nd ed.). New York Botanical Garden. ISBN 978-0893273651.
  2. ^ Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. vii, xxi–xxiii.
  3. ^ "USDA PLANTS Database". Retrieved 2018-10-13.