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The PLANTS Database

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List of Native Trees for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois

ISU Forestry Extension Identification of Common Trees of Iowa

 

 

Tree Identification Key

All Trees (with Photographs) 


All Tress (No Photos)   -   All Trees (with Photos)   -   Dichotomous Key (with Photos)


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Leaf Description Common Name
The leaves are alternate, simple, rounded or heart-shaped, with toothed margins and with one side of the base less rounded than the other. They are dull green above and lighter green beneath. They vary quite widely in size from 4 to 7 inches long. American Basswood
The leaves are simple, opposite; eight to ten centimeters long, and coarsely toothed.  Amur Maple
The ovate leaves are simple and alternate with a serrate margin.  The leaf venation is pinnate. Apple
Simple, broad leaves alternate on the twig. They are closely toothed along the margin and are abruptly pointed. Apricot
Leaves are evergreen, scale-like and abruptly pointed, 2 mm long, opposite in alternating pairs. Arborvitae
The needlelike leaves occur in bundles of two, are 4 to 6 inches long, are stiff and sharp pointed, and of a light green color. Austrian Pine
The bald cypress is a deciduous conifer.   The leaves are alternate, linear and flat with blades generally spreading around the twig.  Bald Cypress
The tree has large, pinnately compound leaves, 12 to 24 inches long with 15 to 23 leaflets. The leaf stems are covered with fine hairs, but are smoother than butternut. The leaflets are 2-1/2 to 3 inches long, yellowish green in color, tapering at the end and toothed along the margin. Black Walnut
The needles are stiff, prickly and about 1 to 1- inches in length. They surround the branch at nearly right angles and are usually silvery to blue-green, but occasionally the blue is absent. Blue Spruce
Opposite, pinnately compound, 3 to 5 leaflets (sometimes 7), 2 to 4 inches long, margin coarsely serrate or somewhat lobed, shape variable, green above and paler below. Boxelder
This tree grows glossy ovate dark leaves that are alternate and simple The leaves turn scarlet and purple shades in the fall. Bradford Pear
Leaves are alternate, simple, lobed; lobes with rounded tips; fruit an acorn. Bur Oak
Leaves are alternate, simple, lobed; lobes with rounded tips; fruit an acorn. Chinquapin Oak

Leaves are opposite (whorled), simple.  They are 8 to 12 inches long and heart-shaped.  Leaves are thick and firm, dark green above and downy beneath. 

Catalpa
The leaves are alternate and simple.  They are broadly triangular, ovate in outline, 3 to 5 inches long and nearly as wide.  They are dark green, lustrous above, and paler and smooth beneath.  The marginal teeth are somewhat hooked, being larger toward the leaf base and smaller toward the pointed tip.  Cottonwood
A simple alternate leaf with a green color that turns yellow in the fall.  It has an ellipitic or oval shape and is often 2 to 4 inches in length. The margin can be crenate, serrate or serrulate. Crabapple
Purple leaves that retain their color all summer. The leaves are opposite, simple, and palmately-veined, 5 to 7 lobed with long pointed "teeth", exudes milky white sap from the petiole when detached, dark crimson purple, paler below.  Crimson King Maple
Needles are short, 1/4-2/3" long, tapering from base to tip. Lustrous, dark green above with two white lines below. Eastern Hemlock
Opposite, simple, arcuately veined, 3 to 6 inches long, oval in shape with an entire margin. Flowering Dogwood
Flabellate leaves have the upper margin irregularly toothed, have many veins and are divided by a deep incision which cuts them into two lobes.   Ginkgo
Leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, 4 to 6 inches long, 7 to 9 leaflets, narrowly elliptical, long-pointed, entire, bright green above, paler below. Green Ash
The alternate single or doubly compound leaves have small leaflets 1 to 1-1/2 inches long with rounded tips. They are dark green above and lighter or yellow-green beneath with margins very slightly toothed. Honeylocust
The ovate leaves are alternate and simple.  The margin is serrate and the venation is palmate.  This tree has a column shape and branches that are strongly ascending and brittle.  Lombardy Poplar
The leaves are simple, alternate, three to six inches in length, about half as wide. Medium to dark green in summer, they sometimes turn an attractive brown in autumn. Magnolia
Opposite, simple, and palmately-veined, 5 to 7 lobed with long pointed "teeth", exudes milky white sap from the petiole when detached, dark green above, paler below. Leaves are dark green, and purple varieties exist. Norway Maple
The needles are single, angular or four-sided, yellow-green in color, 1/2 to 1 inch long and slightly curved.  More of the needles are borne on the upper surface of the twigs where they usually point forward. The foliage appears to droop or weep. Norway Spruce
The leaves are opposite and palmately compound, with the five individual leaflets much narrowed toward the base. They are light green and smooth above, yellowish green below and hairy along the veins. When crushed they have an unpleasant odor. Ohio Buckeye
The leaves are alternate, simple, with thorns or spines present.  They are 3 to 5 inches long  and do not have teeth along the margin.  They are thick, firm, and dark green in color. Osage Orange
Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, ovate in shape, with coarsely doubly serrate margins, an acute tip and rounded base. Paper Birch
Leaves are alternate, simple, lobed. Lobes have pointed tips. Fruit is an acorn. Pin Oak
Alternate, pinnately compound with 3 leaflets per leaf. Leaves are 7 to 10 inches long. Leaflets are ovate and irregularly toothed. Leaves are shiny above. TOXIC. Poison Ivy
(not a tree but good to know)
This evergreen tree has two types of leaves - one dark green, very small and scalelike, clasping the stem in four ranks so that the stem appears square. The other kind, often appearing on young growth or vigorous shoots, is awl-shaped, quite sharp pointed, spreading and whitened beneath. Red Cedar
The simple leaves are arranged opposite on the twigs.  They are broadly ovate with3 shallow short-pointed lobes turning red, orange, and yellow in the autumn.  The lobes sinuses are sharp, with toothed margins. Red Maple
The rounded or somewhat heart-shaped leaves vary greatly in outline from unlobed  to lobed or mitten-shaped.  They are thin and hairy above and soft and hairy beneath.  Leaf margins are coarsely toothed. Red Mulberry
Leaves are deciduous, alternate and simple, elliptic, 1025 cm long and 815 cm wide, divided less than halfway to midvein into 711 shallow wavy lobes with a few irregular bristle-tipped teeth, sinuses usually extending less than 1/2 distance to midrib, glabrous and dull green above, light dull green below with tufts of hairs in vein angles.  The fruit is an acorn.   Red Oak
Purple-red leaf (maroon) for most of the growing season, reddish-orange in fall.  The leaves are simple and  arranged opposite on the twigs.  They are broadly ovate with3 shallow short-pointed lobes.  The lobes sinuses are sharp, with toothed margins. Red Sunset Maple
The unique, broadly heart-shaped leaves are nearly circular (5 to 10 cm), with a long, slender petiole.  The leaves simple and are alternate.  They have 5 to 9 prominent veins that radiate palmately from the base.  New leaves are a light green that darken with age and finally turn yellow in the fall. Redbud
Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, rhombic to ovate, 1 1/2 to 3 inches long, obviously doubly serrate, with a wedge-shaped base; green above, paler and fuzzy below. River Birch
The leaves are alternate and variable in shape with either none or one to three lobes at the apex. The two-lobed leaves are mitten-shaped. The leaves are light, bright green during the summer and turn to bright yellow-orange and red-orange in the fall. Sassafras
The pinnately compound leaves are alternate and 8 to 16 inches long with five to seven dark yellow- green, broad oval leaflets with finely toothed margins. Shagbark Hickory
The leaves of the shingle oak are simple and alternate.  They are regular  shaped and oblong.  They are not lobed, and in this respect differ from all the other native oaks.  They have a wavy margin, are leathery in texture, dark shiny green above and thick velvety underneath.  Leaves are bristle-tipped, 4 to 6 inches long.  The fruit is an acorn. Shingle Oak
The silver maple has simple opposite leaves on the stem, 3 to 7 inches long and 3 to 6 inches wide with five lobes.  The lobes are sharp pointed and deeply cut.  The leaves are bright green above and pale to silvery white beneath.  The leaf stems are long, slender, smooth and reddish. Silver Maple
Alternate simple leaves , 4 to 7 inches long, 2 to 3 inches wide, margin coarsely and sharply doubly serrated, base of leaf conspicuously inequilateral; upper surface very scabrous, slightly scabrous or hairy beneath. Slippery Elm
The simple alternate leaf is ovate in shape and has a serrate margin (sometimes double serrate) that are usually wider than high The leaves have pinnate venation.   Sour Cherry
The simple opposite leaves are three to five lobed, but usually five lobed.  The lobes are deeply cut with rounded divisions between the lobes, dark green above and pale green with a silvery cast below. Sugar Maple
The simple star-shaped leaves, somewhat resemble maple leaves, except that they are arranged alternately instead of opposite.  Sweetgum
Alternate, simple, palmately veined, 4 to 8 inches wide, ovate in shape, with three to five lobes. Margins are toothed. Veins may be pubescent below. Petiole bases encircle the buds. Sycamore
Alternate, pinnately compound with 1 to 3 foot leaves, feather-like, with 11 to 41 leaflets. Leaflets are 2 to 6 inches long, pointed at the tip with large, glandular teeth near the base. Tree-of-Heaven
The leaves are tulip-shaped, alternate, and simple.  The leaf is smooth on both surfaces, dark green and lustrous above, pale and often with a slight whitish bloom beneath. Tulip Tree

The alternate simple leaves of this tree are long and narrow, most between 2- and 6 inches long and inch wide. Slightly wider near the base. Light green with a finely toothed margin.  The leaves are found on long, slender, drooping, yellowish or brownish glabrous twigs. Weeping Willow

Leaves are deciduous, opposite, pinnately compound, 20-38 cm long, leaflets usually 7(5-9), short-stalked, ovate to ovate-lanceolate or elliptic, acuminate, 6-13 cm long and 3-6 cm wide, sometimes with a few teeth near the tip, dark green and smooth above, whitish below.  White Ash
Leaves  are alternate, simple, lobed with pointed tips.  The rounded or somewhat heart-shaped leaves vary greatly in outline from unlobed  to lobed or mitten-shaped.  The upper leaf surface is rough to the touch.  The lower surface is soft and covered with short hairs.  The petioles are 2 to 3 cm long and produce a milky fluid when broken.  Leaf margins are coarsely toothed. White Mulberry

The alternate single leaves are 4 to 7 inches long and about half as broad,deeply divided into seven to nine rounded, finger-like lobes. The young leaves are a soft, silvery gray or yellow to red when unfolding, later becoming bright green above and much paler be low.  Fruit is an acorn. White Oak

The leaves are needles 3 to 5 inches long, bluish green on the upper surface, whitish beneath and occurring in bundles of five. The needles remain on the tree for two years. White Pine

The leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, elongated and slender, with smooth edges. Willow Oak