How to identify a tree in my yard

How to Identify Different Types of Trees

Whether you're taking a walk in the park or simply admiring your neighbor's landscape, it's nice to be able to identify different tree species. Who knows? You might want to plant a few of them in your own yard. If you're ready for some fun sleuth work, here's what to look for.

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1: Brzostowska/Shutterstock /2: Peter Turner Photography/Shutterstock /3: Aleoks/Shutterstock

Leaf Identification Type

The starting point for most people when identifying trees species is the leaves. There are three basic leaf types: needles, scales and broadleaf. Most evergreens have needles or scales, while most broadleaf trees are deciduous, meaning they drop their leaves when dormant. However, there are exceptions. Larch has green needles that turn color in fall and drop off the tree. Live oak is an evergreen tree with broad, elliptical leaves.

Try the Arbor Day Foundation’s online tree identification tool.

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Le Do/Shutterstock

How to Identify Trees By Leaf Shape

The shape of a leaf can also give clues when identifying broadleaf tree species. Common leaf identification shapes include ovate (egg shaped), lanceolate (long and narrow), deltoid (triangular), obicular (round) and cordate (heart shaped). There is also the palm-shaped maple leaf and the lobed oak leaf, two of our most recognizable leaf shapes.

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Family Handyman, Getty Images (5)

How to Identify Trees By Bark Color

Ask most people to describe a tree’s bark and they’ll say “gray” or “brown” and leave it at that. While many tree species indeed have gray bark, some have bark that is cinnamon (mulberry), pure white (birch), silver (beech), greenish white (aspen) or copper (paperbark maple) in color.

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1: Tooykrub/Shutterstock/ 2: /Dwight Lee/Shutterstock /3: J Need/Shutterstock

How to Identify Trees By Bark Texture

There are many variations in texture between different tree species, as well. Bark can be furrowed (cottonwood), scaly (sycamore), peeling (hickory), smooth (beech), shiny (cherry), papery (birch) or warty (hackberry).

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Luke Miller/Oldsmobile Trees

Bark Variations With Age

Often the color and texture of the bark change as the tree matures. This is most noticeable on the trunk—the oldest part of the tree. Silver maple, for example, will go from smooth and silver to furrowed and gray and black as it grows older, as the photo shows.

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How to Identify Trees By Tree Shape

Some trees have a distinctive shape. Think of the vaselike habit of an American elm tree or the pyramid silhouette of a sweet gum. In some cases, the habit changes as the tree matures—often becoming more rounded or irregular—but shape can help with identifying younger trees that are grown in open space (as opposed to a wooded setting, which encourages taller, narrower growth).

You can train a tree’s shape to your liking. See our tree pruning techniques.

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1: m.bonotto/Shutterstock / 2: Roman Kutsekon/Shutterstock

Tree Size and Location: What tree is this?

If you’re trying to identify trees species in a natural setting, you can study the site. Nature knows what it’s doing, distributing trees where they will thrive. Some species, such as willow, are more likely to grow near water. While others, such as black locust, are more upland tree species. A mature tree’s size can also help you whittle down the possibilities. If it’s 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide, you know it’s more apt to be an oak than a dogwood.

Not sure there’s room for a tree in your yard? Meet some space-saving trees for today’s smaller gardens.

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Photo and Vector/Shutterstock

How to Identify Trees By Flowers

While there’s a whole class known as flowering trees (everything from crabapples to magnolias), other tree species have inconspicuous flowers. Either way, flowers can help with identification. First, consider the color (although this isn’t a fail-safe method, since plant breeders have expanded the color palette in the cultivars they have developed). More helpful is to consider when the flower appears and what it looks like. Flower types include single blooms, clustered blooms or catkins (pictured), which are dense hanging spikes that look like tassels. Many trees bloom in spring, but some flower in summer or even early fall, helping you eliminate certain tree species as you investigate.

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How to Identify Trees By Fruit Type

When you think of fruit, you probably think of larger fleshy fruits with seeds inside (apples, pears). But fruit is just a seed dispersal mechanism, so there are other variations to consider. Think of the papery winged fruits of maple, the nuts of chestnut, the acorns of oak, the catkins of willow, the berries of hawthorn and the cones of alder (pictured). All can help you pinpoint a tree species.

10 great trees to consider planting in your yard.

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How to Identify Trees By Seed Comparison

The seeds themselves can help with more specific identification. Say you have an oak tree but you’re not sure what kind. Leaf shape is highly variable on oaks, even on the same specimen. A better indicator may be the acorns. Get your hands on a good guide such as The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees (a mainstay in bookstores for decades). Then compare the acorns to what’s pictured in the guide. You’ll find that acorns can be small (black oak), big (bur oak), oblong (English oak) or barrel shaped (red oak). Some are even striped (pin oak). The cap that partially encases an acorn is also unique in size, shape and texture.

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1: DmitryKomarov/Shutterstock /2: Burakova_Yulia/Shutterstock /3: ANGHI/Shutterstock

How to Identify Trees By Leaf Bud Arrangement

Buds can be helpful in identifying tree species in winter, when deciduous trees are without foliage. Those at the end of a twig are called terminal buds, while those growing along the twig are lateral buds. The arrangement of these lateral buds can help establish a tree’s identity. Alternate buds, found on elms, are arranged in alternating pairs on opposite sides of the stem. The opposite buds of maple are directly facing each other on the stem. And spiral buds whorl alternately around the stem, as seen on oaks.

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Luke Miller/Oldsmobile Trees

How to Identify Trees By Leaf Bud Appearance

Some trees have distinctive buds, such as the sharply pointed buds of beech and the small, clustered buds of oak, which are covered by protective scales. Bitternut hickory is hard to miss—just look for the sulfur-yellow buds when the tree is dormant.

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Originally Published: June 10, 2019

Luke Miller

Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.

How to Tell What Type of Tree I Have

23,000 – that’s how many different types of trees there are in the world, according to North Carolina State University.

The diversity of trees is in a word… amazing. From towering pines to tropical palms and teeny-tiny bonsai trees, there’s a tree out there for everyone.

If you’ve found a tree that catches your eye, here’s how to identify your tree. You can use the leaf, bark or an app to discover what type of tree you have.

How To Tell What Type Of Tree I Have Or Saw

To identify what kind of tree you have, begin by grabbing a leaf. If you please, snap a picture of the tree’s bark, canopy and any identifying features, such as its fruit, blooms and size.

Now you’re ready to begin sleuthing. Go forth with confidence, tree detective!

Tree Identification By Leaf

Tree leaves hold the answer to, “What type of tree is this?”

If you’d like to use an app, scroll to find the best one below.

Or, you can take The Arbor Day Foundation’s detailed “What Tree Is That” quiz. By answering questions about where you are and the leaf’s shape, size and characteristics, you’ll know what tree you have in under 5 minutes!

Tree Identification By Bark

Wondering how to identify a tree in winter when there are no leaves present?

Look at their bark! By far the easiest way to identify trees by their bark is to use an app. Scroll on to find out which.

If you’d prefer, you can DIY it. Your best bet is to focus on the bark while zeroing in on the twigs and buds. The Nature Conservancy provides step-by-step instructions and detailed info on how to identify trees by their bark. They also share how to identify different types of evergreen trees.

Tree Identification By App

Ah, the wonders of 21st-century technology!

Now, you can tell what type of tree you have in your front or backyard by snapping a picture or answering a few questions on your phone.

Best Tree Identification App For iPhones

Leafsnap, created by researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institute, is the best iPhone app for identifying trees.

To use, you simply input your location and snap a picture of the leaf on a white background.

Then, poof! You’ll have the results in a matter of seconds. Now that’s easy!

Best Tree Identification App For Android

VTree helps you identify nearly 1,000 trees and shrubs across North America. This app was created by Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.

You don’t need to take a picture of the leaf to use this app. Instead, you enter your location and answer qualifying questions about the leaf and tree. You can skip any non-relevant questions. There are also over 23,000 pictures of leaves, flowers, fruits and twigs to make it easier to identify trees.

If you’ve stumped the app, you can even send in a tree description with pictures, and the Virginia Tech experts will solve the mystery.

Learn more about trees. Contact your local arborist today!



  • Choosing a Tree
  • Benefits of Trees

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Rules for planting trees in the local area - Legal advice

Eugene 08/31/2016 Heading: Housing and communal services

One of the residents of the house planted a playground with trees and flowers with a minimum distance between them. The landing was carried out close to the curb and sidewalk. She also stretched a wire between the trees at eye level so that cars would not park. When parking the car close to the curb and close to the trees, this resident threatens car owners that she will harm the car. In this regard, there are the following questions. 1. Did she have the right to plant trees on the playground without coordinating this action with either the management company or the homeowners? 2. Is there any GOST or other document that establishes the minimum and maximum distance for planting trees from the edge of the sidewalk or roadway in the yard. 3. How to be in this situation?

Apartment house

Svetlana Razvorotneva

Consultations: 262

According to paragraph 4 of part 1 of Art. 36 of the Housing Code of the Russian Federation, owners of premises in an apartment building own the common property in an apartment building, including the land plot on which this house is located, with landscaping and landscaping elements, other intended for maintenance, operation and improvement of this house and located objects on the specified land plot. The boundaries and size of the land plot on which the apartment building is located are determined in accordance with the requirements of land legislation and legislation on urban planning.

By virtue of Part 1 of Art. 16 of the Federal Law of December 29, 2004 N 189-FZ "On the Enactment of the Housing Code of the Russian Federation" in the existing development of settlements, the land plot on which the apartment building and other real estate objects included in such a house are located is the common shared property of the owners of the premises in an apartment building.

By virtue of part 5 of this article, from the moment the land plot is formed and its state cadastral registration is carried out, the land plot on which the apartment building and other real estate objects that are part of such a house are located, passes free of charge into the common shared ownership of the owners of premises in the apartment building .

The obligation to maintain such a land plot lies with the owners and the managing organization servicing the house.

In this regard, you need to apply to the local government that is responsible for the formation of land plots, with a statement to clarify the fact of the formation of a land plot (adjacent territory). If the land plot on which your house is located was not formed before the entry into force of the Housing Code of the Russian Federation, then such formation can be carried out on the basis of an application from any of the owners.

If the land plot is formed and is in common ownership of the owners of the premises in your house, then, guided by Part 2 of Art. 44 of the Housing Code of the Russian Federation, it is permissible to make a decision by the general meeting on the limits of its use, including the approval of a certain improvement project with the establishment of green areas, parking areas, etc. Such a decision will be binding on all owners, regardless of their actual decision during the voting.

In the absence of such a decision, it is not possible to give a negative assessment of the actions of a citizen in planting green spaces if the requirements for planting distance are met.

So, by virtue of clause 2.4 of SanPiN, approved by the Decree of the Chief State Doctor of the Russian Federation dated 10. 06.2010 No. 64, when landscaping the adjacent territory of residential buildings, it must be taken into account that the distance from the walls of residential buildings to the axis of tree trunks with a crown with a diameter of up to 5 m should be at least 5 m. For larger trees, the distance should be more than 5 m, for shrubs - 1.5 m. The height of shrubs should not exceed the lower edge of the window opening of the ground floor premises.

Of course, a citizen has no right to put up any fences in order to ensure the safety of plantings. Her instructions about the features of parking vehicles can be ignored. The issue of bringing to responsibility for damage to property will be resolved in the manner prescribed by civil and civil procedural legislation based on the requirements of the norms on the fulfillment of obligations due to causing harm.

They said thanks:

Should the managing organization maintain trees in the local area

In yesterday's article, among the eco-projects that can be implemented after the removal of quarantine measures, we recommended that you and the residents plant trees in the yard of the MKD. The question arises: who should continue to maintain the planted trees and bushes? We propose to understand.

Who will be responsible for health damage due to poor maintenance of land near the house



an apartment building and the boundaries of which are determined on the basis of information from the state cadastral registration (paragraph “e”, paragraph 2 of Regulation No. 49one).

The decision on the improvement of such a local area, including what and where to plant, how to maintain and operate the elements of landscaping and landscaping, is made by the OSS by a majority vote of the total number of votes of the owners participating in this meeting (paragraph 2.1, part 2, article 44 LCD RF).

The maintenance of common property, depending on its composition, design features, degree of physical wear and tear and technical condition, geodetic and climatic conditions of the location of the house, includes the maintenance and care of landscaping and landscaping elements that are located on the land (clause " g "clause 11 of Regulation No. 49one).

The list of works and services that are carried out in apartment buildings is determined for each house separately. This takes into account the presence of a land plot on which the house is located,

  • with landscaping and landscaping elements;
  • with objects intended for the maintenance and operation of the house (clause "c" clause 3 of Regulation No. 290).

Maintenance of green spaces in the adjacent area

The maintenance of housing stock or specialized organizations under the contract is responsible for the preservation of trees and other green spaces in the adjacent territory and for their proper care. This is indicated in clause 3.8.3 of the Rules approved by the Decree of the Gosstroy of the Russian Federation of September 27.2003 No. 170.

Note that the technical operation of the housing stock includes the care of green spaces (clause "c" clause 1.8 of Rules No. 170).

Resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation No. 6464/10 dated September 29, 2010 in case No. А08-4962/2009-27 contains an important conclusion about the implementation by managing organizations of all current, urgent, mandatory seasonal works and services. The listed works and services are considered to be provided for in the contract by virtue of the norms for the content of the MKD as an object.

Managing organizations carry them out without fail, regardless of whether there is a mention of specific actions in the management agreement and whether a decision of the OSS has been made on the need for their implementation.

In these respects, management organizations act as specialized commercial organizations that manage apartment buildings as their main business activity. That is why the determination in the management contract of the amount of payment for the maintenance and current repairs of the house, taking into account its natural wear and tear, is their entrepreneurial risk.

From the above norms of legislation, we can conclude that it is the organizations that manage MKD that are obliged to maintain trees, bushes and other green spaces in the adjacent territory.

Residents of the house can water the bushes and cut the tree branches that interfere with them, or decide together with the MA under the contract to transfer the maintenance of green spaces to a specialized organization. But if something happens, it is the managing organization that will be responsible for this and deal with the contractors.

Is it possible to place trade objects on the adjacent territory



The managing organization must take care of green spaces

The laws listed above are commonly referred to by the courts when dealing with numerous cases of trees falling on cars parked in yards.

This happened with the decision of the Judicial Collegium for Civil Cases of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court dated March 29, 2018 in case No. 33-4990/2018. The managing organization was ordered to compensate the plaintiff for the damage caused to the car due to the fall of a poplar branch on it.

The court concluded that the green spaces in the area adjacent to the house were in poor condition. And the fact that the car was parked right under a tree, and a strong wind was blowing on the street, does not affect the matter in any way. The damage to the car was caused due to improper control of the management company over the maintenance of trees in the service area.

We also note that usually the courts oblige the MA to compensate for material damage, they refuse to compensate for moral damage. Such a conclusion is contained, for example, in the decision of the Leninsky District Court of Kursk dated August 24, 2016. A branch that fell from a tree damaged the car. Its owner filed a lawsuit against the management company, in which he asked the court to oblige her to compensate for material damage and non-pecuniary damage.

The court did not satisfy the claims in terms of compensation for non-pecuniary damage. Subject to the provisions of Art. 151 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, compensation for moral damage is provided for in violation of personal non-property rights and legally protected interests of citizens. The requirements of the owner were of a material nature, compensation for moral damage in this case is not provided.

We wrote about two more similar cases in this article.

How does the MA respond to excavations in the courtyard of an apartment building



In conclusion and shrubs. Shouldn't they be sorted out?

This is important to do, because:

  1. Building management organizations are responsible for the maintenance of trees and other green spaces in the adjacent territory of the MKD.
  2. What and where to plant is determined by the owners at OSS.
  3. In case of damage to property caused by a fallen tree branch, etc., the courts decide that the MA exercised improper control over the maintenance of green spaces in the service area.
  4. By a court decision, the MA must compensate the victim for material damage. The plaintiffs are denied the appointment of compensation for moral time.

Ksenia Terletskaya Editor-in-Chief of the RosKvartal Internet Service

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