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Trees of New York

American Elm (Ulmus americana)
     Deciduous, has elliptical to oblong-ovate leaves, 4-6” long and 1-3” wide. Greenish, wafer-like fruits, 0.5” long, usually mature as the leaves unfold; papery wing surrounding the flat seed is oblong, the tip deeply notched and the edges hairy. On mature trees, bark is dark gray, in flat-topped ridges separated by roughly diamond-shaped areas. Grows 80-120’ tall and 2-4’ in diameter, its vase-shaped form is recognizable even at a distance.
Balsam Fir (Albies balsamea)
     Needles 0.5-2” long, flat, blunt, or notched at the tip, with two silvery bands of stomata on the underside only. Needles 2-ranked except on topmost branches, where they are crowded on upper-side of the twigs. Cylindrical, purplish cones are 2-4” long. On young trees, bark has many resin blisters, on mature trees it is gray to reddish brown and in scaly plates. Grows 40-60’ tall and 1-1.5’ in diameter.
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
     Has narrowly oval to oblong, deciduous leaves, 2-6” long and 1-1.5” wide with fine marginal teeth. White flowers about 0.3” in diameter, in racemes 4-6” long. Fruit 0.5” in diameter, black with dark purple flesh. Bark of young trees is smooth, dark reddish brown to black and marked with horizontal lenticels, older trees have raised, scaly patches. Grows 50-60’ tall and 1-3’ in diameter.
Black Oak (Quercus velutina)
     Leaves resemble those of the Northern Red Oak but have 5-7 lobes separated by variable sinuses and are coppery with auxiliary tufts of hair below. Ovoid acorns, 0.5-0.8” long have deep, bowl-like scaly cups. Bark is black, ridged and furrowed. Grows 50-70’ tall and 1-3’ in diameter, with a rounded crown.
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
     Deciduous leaves are 12-24” long, with 15-23 almost sessile leaflets, smooth above and hairy below. The nearly spherical fruit, 1.5 to 2” in diameter, has a thick, semi-fleshy, yellowish-green husk enclosing the woody, corrugated nut and its sweet, oily seed. Bark of mature trees is furrowed and dark brown to black. Grows 70-100’ tall and 2-3” in diameter.
Black Willow (Salix nigra)
     Has lanceolate leaves 3-6” long, 0.5-0.8” wide with finely toothed margins. They are smooth and green, more lustrous above and paler below. Twigs of the current year are a reddish to gray-brown. Bark of large trees is dark brown to black and heavily ridged. Usually grows 30-40’ tall and 12-14” in diameter, with an irregular crown and often several trunks.
Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
     Deciduous leaves are roughly triangular, 3-6” long and 4-5” wide, with coarsely rounded marginal teeth. They are smooth and lustrous green above and paler below with a flattened stem. The seed-bearing capsules are 4-3 valved, 0.3-1” long. Bark of mature trunks is dark gray and furrowed or ridged. Height of 75-100’ and 3-4’ in diameter.
Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
     Has flat needles, 0.3-0.7” long, tapering from base to apex, with two white bands of stomata below. Ovoid cones, 0.5-0.8” long, are attached by a short, slender stalk, outer margin of scales is smooth. Bark on mature trees is dark purplish brown, scaly and deeply furrowed. Grows 60-75’ tall and 1-3’ in diameter with a dense pyramidal “lacy” crown.
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
     Needles in bundles of 5 are 3-5” long, soft and flexible. They remain on the branches one to two years. Fine white lines of stomata are on two surfaces of each needle. The stalked, curved cones are 4-8” long and their scales lack spines. ON young trees the bark is smooth and gray, on mature trunks it is broken into small rectangular blocks. This larges conifer in the Northeast grows 75-100’ tall, 2-4’ in diameter with a pyramidal grown of whorled horizontal branches.
Horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
     Introduced shade and ornamental tree with spreading, elliptical to rounded crown of stout branches and coarse foliage. Height: 70’, Diameter: 2’. Leaves: opposite, palmately compound with leafstalks 3-7” long, 7 leaflets (sometimes 5) spreading fingerlike, 4-10” long, 1-3 ½” wide, obovate or elliptical, broadest toward abrupt point, tapering to stalk less base, saw-toothed. Dull dark green above, paler beneath. Bark: gray or brown, thin, smooth, becoming fissured and scaly. Flowers: 1” long, narrowly bell-shaped, with 4-5 spreading narrow white petals, red and yellow spotted at base, many flowers in upright branched clusters 10” long, bloom in late spring. Fruit: 2-2 ½” in diameter, a brown spiny or warty capsule, splitting into 2-3 parts, 1-2 large rounded shiny brown poisonous seeds, maturing in late summer. A shade and street tree in rich moist soils.
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
     Leaves are deciduous, 5-8” long and 4-5” wide with 7 to 11 pointed, toothed lobes separated by variable sinuses that extend halfway to the midrib. The leaves turn red in the fall. The oblong-ovoid acorns are 0.8 to 1” long, with a flat, saucer-like cup at their base. The dark brown to black bark is ridged and furrowed. Grows 50-70’ tall and 1-3’ in diameter with a rounded crown.
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
     Introduced shade tree with rounded crown of dense foliage and with milky sap in leafstalks. Height – 60’, Diameter – 2’. Leaves: opposite, 4-7” long and wide, palmately 5-lobed, scattered long teeth, 5 or 7 main veins from notched base. Dull green with sunken veins above, paler and hairless beneath. Bright yellow in autumn. Bark: gray or brown, becoming rough and furrowed into narrow ridges. Fruit: 1-2 “ long paired keys with long wings and flattened bodies, light brown, hanging on long stalk, maturing in summer. Found on roadsides in humid temperate regions. Fast-growing and tolerant of city smoke and dust.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
     Deciduous leaves are nearly circular, 1-3” in diameter, with small, rounded marginal teeth and long, slender, fattened stems. They are lustrous green above, pale silvery below. The foliage quivers in the slightest breeze, hence the common name. In fall, the leaves turn brilliant gold or yellow. The smooth, greenish-white colored bark is marked by black, warty patches. Grow 20-69’ tall and 1-2’ in diameter with narrow, round-topped crown of rather stout branches.
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
     Large tree with narrow or rounded, compact crown and red flowers, fruit, leafstalks and autumn foliage. Height – 60-90’, Diameter – 2 ½’. Leaves: opposite, 2 ½-4” long and nearly as wide, broadly ovate, with 3 shallow short-pointed lobes, irregularly and wavy saw-toothed with 5 main veins from base, long red or green leafstalk, dull green above, whitish and hairy beneath, turning red, orange and yellow in autumn. Bark: gray, thins, smooth, becoming fissured into long thin scaly ridges. Fruit: ¾-1” long including long wing, paired forking keys, red, 1-seeded, maturing in spring. Wet or moist soils of stream banks, valleys, swamps and uplands and sometimes on dry ridges, in mixed hardwood forests. It has the greatest north-south distribution of all tree species along the East Coast.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
     Large tree with rounded, dense crown and striking, multicolored foliage in autumn. Height: 70-100’, Diameter: 2-3’. Leaves: opposite, 3 ½-5 ½” long and wide, palmately lobed with 5 deep long-pointed lobes, few narrow long-pointed teeth, 5 main veins from base, leafstalks long and often hairy. Dull dark green above, paler and often hairy on veins beneath, turning deep red, orange and yellow in autumn. Bark: light gray, becoming rough and deeply furrowed into narrow scaly ridges. Fruit: 1-1 ¼’ long including long wing, paired forking keys, brown, 1-seeded, maturing in autumn. Moist soils of uplands and valleys, sometimes in pure stands.
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
     Deciduous leaves are 8-12” long, usually with 7 oval to oblong leaflets, 3-5” long and 1.5-3” wide, margins smooth or finely toothed. Dioecious, flowers appearing before leaves. Samaras 1-2 inches long, with wing extending only part way along seed. White Ash has gray bark, with diamond shaped ridges appearing on the trunks of older trees. Up to 80’ tall and 3’ in diameter.
White Oak (Quercus alba)
     Leaves are deciduous, 5-9” long and 2-4” wide with 7 to 9 rounded lobes divided by narrow, variable sinuses often extending to nearly midrib. The oblong acorns, 0.5 to 0.8” long, are set in a bowl-like cup covered with warty scales. The gray bark is in narrow, vertical blocks of scaly plates. Grows 80 to 100’ tall and 3-4’ in diameter with a wide spreading crown.
White Spruce (Picea glauca)
     Needles are 1” long, 4-sided and crowded on the upper side of the branch. New twigs are not hairy. Cones are 1-2.5” long with thin, woody, but flexible scales, smooth on the rounded margin. Outer bark is ash brown, inner bark silvery when freshly exposed. White spruce is found along the shores of streams and lakes, growing 75’ tall and 2’ in diameter.
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Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District
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Rochester, New York 14624
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Page last updated: May 6, 2013