How to Identify Trees

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White ash trees are oppositely-branched with compound leaves. Ash is a hard, heavy wood with a straight, moderately open grain and medium texture with a light brown heartwood. Its sapwood is beige or light brown.


(Tilia Americana)

Often growing in clumps, basswood trees are dark gray and develop vertical ridges as it ages. The straight grain, fine textured wood is moderately strong. Basswood leaves are heart-shaped, 3-6 inches long, and coarsely-toothed with a tapered tip.


(Fagus Grandifolia)

Reaching 60-80 feet in height and 2-3 feet in diameter, beech trees are a straight grain wood with fine to medium texture. Its bark is typically a pale cream color with a pink or brown hue and sprouts leaves that are 3-4 inches long with many “points” along the margin.



The Upper Peninsula is home to four birch tree species—paper, yellow, ironwood, and musclewood. Heavy and strong, the straight grain, finely textured wood is cream to light brown with a nearly white sapwood. Its leaves are simple with saw-toothed margins.



The straight grain, curly wood has a fine texture with medium density and strength and a blonde sapwood. Its pink/brown heartwood significantly darkens with exposure to sunlight. All U.P. cherry trees (black, pin, and choke cherry) have simple leaves with finely-toothed margins and produce edible fruits.


(Ulmus Americana)

Elm trees have a roughly furrowed bark that has distinct red and white layers in the cross-section. Its leaves are simple, typically 4-6 inches long, double-toothed, and have an unequal leaf base.


(Carya Cordiformis)

Bitternut hickory wood is known for its strength and hardness with a medium texture and straight grain. Its compound leaves are 7-10 inches long and have 7-11 leaflets, with the largest at the tip. Its bark is firm and grows with some shallow furrows.

Hard Maple

(Acer Saccharum)

The most common tree in the U.P., hard maple (or sugar maple) trees have a smooth, medium-gray bark until it ages, which then grows into rough, fissured bark. Its leaves have smooth margins with five points.

Soft Maple

(Acer Rubrum)

Soft maple tree leaves are generally three-lobed with course margins. The relatively straight grain wood is softer in texture and strength than hard maple, with a white sapwood and light brown heartwood. The bark on younger trees is smooth and medium-gray.

Red Oak

(Quercus Rubra)

While leaf sizes can vary, a typical red oak features leaves that are 5-9 inches long with 7-9 sharply pointed lobes. Its hard and heavy bark on young trees is smooth and gray, with ridges forming as the tree grows.

White Oak

(Quercus Alba)

Featuring a light to medium gray bark, white oak trees are strong and heavy. Leaves are 5-9 inches long, typically featuring up to 9 rounded, evenly-spaced lobes. In the Upper Peninsula, white oak most often occurs in the southern end of Menominee County.


(Juglans Nigra)

Walnut trees feature a heavy and strong wood with medium texture and a heartwood that is light to dark brown with a purplish cast. Its leaves are compound and large, ranging from 7 to 10 inches long.