Types of Trees with Their Name and Picture for Easy Identification

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Types of Trees with Their Name and Picture for Easy Identification
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All types of trees play an important role in our ecosystem. Trees provide shade, shelter, oxygen, and many even produce fruit. Trees come in all shapes and sizes, from majestic cedars to smaller fruit trees and shrubs. Identifying the different kinds of trees usually depends on examining their leaves and bark. Some types of trees have wide oval leaves, some have star-shaped ones, and many evergreen trees have needle leaves.

There are over 60,000 species of trees and they are classified into two groups, depending on if they shed their leaves in fall. Trees are woody perennial plants that are a member of the kingdom Plantae. All species of trees are grouped by their genus, family, and order. This helps make identifying and studying trees easier.

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Apart from providing oxygen for the planet and beauty when they bloom or turn color, trees are very useful. Certain species of hardwood and softwood trees are excellent for timber, making furniture, and paper. When managed properly, trees are a good source of renewable energy and construction material.

In this article, you will learn how to identify 18 different types of trees. Most of these trees are common in North America, Europe, and other countries around the world.

Two Main Categories of Trees

All of the thousands of species of trees fall into two categories – deciduous trees and evergreen trees.

Deciduous trees

deciduous

Deciduous trees shed their leave usually in the autumn

Deciduous trees are the kind of trees that lose their leaves at certain times of the year. The term deciduous literally means to “fall off at maturity.”

In North America, Europe, and temperate counties, deciduous trees such as oak, walnut, elm, and birch shed their leaves in fall. This is usually preceded by the leaves turning wonderful colors including shades of orange, brown, and yellow.

In tropical countries, species of deciduous trees lose their leaves during dry seasons.

Evergreen trees

evergreen

Evergreen trees retain their leaves all year around

Species of evergreen trees such as spruce, pine, and fir trees keep their leaves throughout the year. There are about 14 family groups of evergreen trees, and these trees provide color in gardens and landscapes all year long. Evergreen trees are the reason why forests look so beautiful in winter landscapes.

Identifying the Types of Tree Leaves

leaf shapes

The shapes of the leaves help to identify the tree species

Tree identification is usually possible by examining the leaves.

There are three basic leaf types: broadleaf, needles, and scales.

Broadleaf

Most, but not all, deciduous plants have broadleaves that can be in all shapes and sizes. The leaf shapes can be oval, rounded, long and narrow, triangular, or heart-shaped. Some easily identifiable broadleaves are the iconic maple leaf and the oak leaf with its lobed leaves.

Needle leaves

Many evergreen trees such as conifers, pines, and spruce trees have needle leaves. These can be long, thin and straight and grow in clusters. Or, the needles could be soft needles that grow sparsely on the twig.

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Scale leaves

Scale leaves

Scale leaves

Some types of evergreen trees like juniper and cedar have scale-like leaves. Their leaves look more like scales than needles.

Other ways to identify trees by their leaves include:

  • Opposite leaves grow directly across from each other on the leaf stem.
  • Alternate leaves grow in a staggered, alternating pattern along the stem.

Types of Trees With Pictures and Identifying Features

Let’s look in more detail at the many types of common trees that grow in forests, woodlands, fields, and gardens.

Birch Trees

Silver birch Betula pendula

Silver birch (Betula pendula) is a medium-sized deciduous tree with white peeling bark

There are about 60 species of hardwood birch trees of the genus Betula and in the family Betulaceae. Birch trees can be easy to identify as their bark is often white or silver-colored and the long drooping branches have small thin leaves. Wood from birch is hard and is good for making furniture and plywood and is also a good source of firewood.

Tree identification: Birch trees have small triangular-shaped leaves with a slightly serrated edge. Another recognizable feature is that the bark of birch trees is papery. Depending on the species of birch, the smooth bark can be dark gray to white.

Maple Trees

Japanese maple

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a small deciduous tree with many cultivars growing worldwide

Maple trees belong to the genus Acer in the family Sapindaceae. Although the maple tree is commonly associated with Canada, most of the species are native to Asia. The most common maple species in Europe is the sycamore maple, and there are 10 species native to Canada.

The sap from maple tree makes deliciously sweet maple syrup. This hardwood tree is also useful for making baseball bats and its timber is valued in the construction industry.

Tree identification: Maples can be woody shrubs growing about 33 ft. (10 m) tall or large majestic trees up to 150 ft. (45 m) tall. The most common identifying feature is the distinctly shaped leaves growing opposite each other on branches.

Ash Trees

ash

Ash trees are medium to large size and most of them are deciduous

Ash trees are a species of hardwood tree in the genus Fraxinus and family Oleaceae. This means that ash trees are related to olive trees and woody lilac bushes. These deciduous tree plants grow straight and tall, and different species of the tree grow between 30 ft. and 120 ft. (9 – 36 m). Ash is a species of tree native to North America and is prized for its strength and flexibility. The grain in the wood is also attractive and this makes the tree valuable for furniture makers.

Tree identification: Ash tree leaves are long, narrow and slightly oval. Similar to maple leaves, they grow opposite each other on the stem.

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Oak Trees

oak

Oak trees live in a wide range of habitats and are the national tree of many countries.

Oak trees are well-known for producing wood that is extremely hard, durable, and resistant to disease. Oaks can be trees or shrubs and are in the genus Quercus and the family Fagaceae. These hardwood trees are common in North America and Europe, and there are over 90 species alone in the United States. Oak wood has been prized for centuries and was used to make ships, create interior paneling, and also barrels for storing wines and spirits.

Tree identification: Most species of oak are deciduous trees and a few are evergreen. Oak leaves generally have lobate edges and they grow spirally on the branch. Oaks also produce acorns which are oval-shaped nuts sitting in a small cup-like structure called cupule.

Sycamore Trees

sycamore

Sycamores are large flowering deciduous trees that grow easily from seeds

Sycamore is a species of large hardwood tree in the genus Plantanus. The most common sycamore tree in North America is the Plantanus occidentalis which is also called the American sycamore. These deciduous trees can grow to huge proportions with some reaching heights of 130 ft. (40 m). Sycamore wood is very hard and dense and not easy to work with.

Tree identification: Sycamores often have bark that easily flakes off, giving the trunk a reddish-brown, multicolored look. Leaves from sycamore trees are large and can be mistaken for maple leaves. The leaves grow alternately on stems and have 3 to 5 lobes with toothed edges.

Cedar Trees

cedar

Cedars are evergreen coniferous trees

Native to the Mediterranean region, true cedars are an impressive species of evergreen coniferous tree in the family Pinaceae. Cedar trees (genus Cedrus) are a type of hardwood and can grow especially tall with some of the largest species growing up to 164 ft. (50 m) high. Because of their grace and elegance, cedars are popular ornamental trees and are often cultivated as bonsai trees. Cedar trees are also popular for their aromatic wood and fragrant foliage.

There are hardwood trees native to North America that are also called cedars. However, if you check their scientific name, many are species of junipers in the family Juniperus.

Tree identification: Cedar trees have scale leaves that grow in dark green or bluish-green spiral clusters. There could be between 15 and 45 clusters on short shoots that make up the leaves on branches.

Juniper Trees

juniper

Junipers are coniferous evergreen trees that vary in size and shape

Juniper trees are often called cedars but they belong to a different genus and family. Junipers (genus Juniperus in the family Cupressaceae) are evergreen trees. Depending on the species, the foliage can be soft and feathery or prickly needles. Some of the low-growing juniper shrubs have silvery needles. Large juniper trees often have leaves that are scale-like and grow on rounded shoots. Some popular types of junipers in North America include Eastern red cedars, common red cedar, Ashe junipers, and California junipers.

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Tree identification: Most species of juniper have needle-like leaves when they are immature that grow into scale leaves as the tree ages.

Willow Trees

willow

Willows are deciduous flowering trees and shrubs that prefer very moist soil

Willow trees are easily identified by their long drooping branches covered in oval elongated leaves. There are about 400 species of willow that belong to the genus Salix. Leafy woody plants in the willow family are deciduous and can be low-growing shrubs or medium-sized trees. One of the interesting features of willow tree leaves is their color. Leaves can be greenish-yellow, bluish-green or have red blushing. Wood from willow trees tends to be soft and flexible and the branches are often used for making wicker baskets.

Tree identification: Leaves are simple and elongated with serrated edges. Willows are usually last to drop their leaves in fall.

Pine Trees

pine tree

Pine is an evergreen coniferous that is fast growing and long lived tree

Pine trees are often used as ornamental trees and are a softwood type of conifer. Evergreen trees in the genus Pinus are probably the most recognizable type of coniferous tree. Pine trees produce hard cones and their leaves are clusters of needle leaves. Pine trees grow tall and straight with some of the largest species reaching heights of 268 ft. (81 m). Because of their fast growth, pine wood is important in the construction and furniture industries. Most pine trees have red bark and there is also a species called the Red pine.

Tree identification: Their tall straight trunks and pine leaves that grow near the top of the tree make these evergreens easy to identify.

Hickory trees

hickory

Hickory are deciduous trees and include about 18 species

Deciduous trees in the genus Carya are called hickory trees and they are common in North America, China, and India. Hickory trees are well-known for their edible nuts. The most popular type from the Carya illinoinensis species is commonly known as the pecan nut. Pecan tree bark is interesting because the bark splits and peels as the hickory tree grows.

Hickory plants are also related to the walnut tree. Hickory is a type of hardwood that is used for making sports equipment such as bats and sticks, as well as being used for smoking cured meats.

Tree identification: Leaves are large and green and have a pointed tip at the end and they grow alternately on the stems. Hickory produces edible nuts that are in a “double” shell.

Mahogany Trees

mahogany

There are many species of mahogany tree but “true” ones are in the genus Swietenia

Mahogany is a type of redwood tree that is famed for its hardness and straight grains. Genuine mahogany trees are 3 species in the genus Swietenia and are native to North and South America. Other types of mahogany tree in the family Meliaceae grow in Asia, Africa, and New Zealand. Mahogany wood is highly rated for its reddish-brown color and durability. Mahogany also is rot-resistant and has tonal properties making it the perfect type of wood for constructing musical instruments.

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Tree identification: Rich brown-red colored wood that gets darker with age. Mahogany leaves are oval and grow opposite each other on the stem.

Teak Trees

teak-forests

The tropical teak is large deciduous tree and is known for its high quality

Another type of hardwood that is popular with furniture makers and boat builders is teak. These massive deciduous trees are species of trees in the genus Tectona. Some species of teak tree can grow up to 131 ft. (40 m) tall and their branches produce thin, papery leaves. The reason why teak wood is widely used is that it is very weather resistant. Often, outdoor furniture, window frames, flooring, and boat decks are constructed from teak trees.

Tree identification: Teak leaves are large and ovate with a smooth surface and edges.

Walnut Trees

black-walnut

Black walnut tree is has a commercial importance for lumber and walnuts production

Walnut trees are best well-known for their delicious and healthy edible nuts. These deciduous trees are in the genus Juglans and the family Juglandaceae. Walnut trees also tend to be large, massive trees that grow to between 33 and 131 ft. (10 – 40 m) tall. They also have a large spread. The most important species of walnut tree for nut production is the Juglans regia, or black walnut. This species of walnut is an important source of hardwood timber.

Tree identification: Walnut tree leaves are alternate and are comprised of leaflets that grow opposite each other.

Apple Trees

apple trees

Apple tree is a very popular and common type of fruit tree that is cultivated worldwide and has a beautiful blossom

Apple trees are a genus of large trees in the family Rosaceae that produce beautiful flowers and a crop of apples. Apple trees grow in most countries in the world and the most common species is the Malus domestica tree. It is reckoned that apple trees are the oldest cultivated tree in history. Apple trees can grow to 40 ft. (12 m) tall and have a spread of the same size. There are plenty of dwarf apple tree cultivars for gardens that may just grow 3 – 6 ft. (1 – 2 m) high. It is estimated that there are over 7,500 different kinds of apples.

Tree identification: Apple tree leaves are alternate and simple and their shape is egg-shaped. Many types of apple trees have ovate leaves that come to a point.

Cherry Trees

cherry

Cherry trees include many cultivars that produce different types of cherries

Another tree that is prized for its blossoms and fruit is the cherry tree. Cherry trees are in the genus Prunus and the large woody shrubs grow to about 30 ft. (9 m) high. However, depending on the cultivar, trees may be smaller and just grow to 20 ft. (6 m) and have a spread of between 15 and 30 ft. (4.5 – 9m). Cherry blossoms are so beautiful that people travel great distances to see the amazing blossoms of pinkish-white flowers covering the trees.

Tree identification: Cherry tree leaves are ovate that taper to a point. They generally have a smooth surface and slightly serrated edge.

Hawthorn Trees

hawthorn

Most hawthorn trees grow between 5–15 m (16–49 ft.) tall and have edible berry-like fruit

The botanical name for hawthorn trees is Crataegus and they are in the same family (Rosaceae) as apples. Hawthorns are a type of tree or shrub that is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Leaves from the hawthorn tree grow spirally on long shoots. Because of their attractiveness, hawthorns are grown as street trees or ornamental trees and the smaller shrubs also make great hedges. Other names for hawthorns include ‘thornapples,’ ‘hawberries,’ or May-tree.’

Tree identification: Hawthorn leaves come in many different shapes. Some types of leaves are deeply lobed and look like large parsley leaves. Other hawthorn leaves look more ovate due to having shallow lobes.

Elm Trees

elm

Elm trees can grow tall and are popular street trees

Elm trees are a common type of forest tree that are classed as deciduous or semi-deciduous. There are 40 species of elm in the genus Ulmus. Some common species of elm include American elm (Ulmus americana), European elm (Ulmus glabra), and Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra).

Tree identification: Elm is a thick, dense hardwood tree and some species are especially ornamental and beautiful. Elm leaves are classed as broad-leaves that can be between 7 and 16 cm long and their ovate shape tapers to a point.

Spruce Trees

Norway spruce

Spruce trees are slow growing and are important in the building industry

Spruce trees make up many of the types of forests in North America and are a type of coniferous evergreen tree. Spruces are classed as large trees that belong to the Picea genus. One feature of spruces is that they are extremely cold hardy. Some of the larger spruce species are very imposing because they can be as high as 200 ft. (60 m). All of the 35 species of spruce trees have pine needles that radiate equally around the stems and can be prickly. The most common spruce trees in North America are the Red spruce, Black spruce, and White spruce. Spruce trees are also traditionally used as Christmas trees. Spruce trees are also one of the most important trees for the timber industry.

Tree identification: Spruces cones are long and cylindrical that hang down off the tree. Also, the leaves of spruce trees are rows of green, bluish-green, or silver-green needles.

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