Tree Blindness

My knowledge of trees was very similar to that of Gabriel Popkin, I knew what oaks and maples were and how to generally identify them based on leaves. For my travels into the woods, I decided to go to the Cincinnati Nature Center which is not too far from where I live. I have been to this nature center many times, but never really focused on the plant life there. I have mostly been occupied by the amazing animal life there, but once I began to look for different trees I was amazed at the diversity present. Just 20 feet onto the first trail and I had already seen 5 different species of trees! I spent the next 2 hours exploring the nature center and identifying trees, I believe I found about 15 different trees during that time.

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

One of the most recognizable trees that I encountered was the Ohio Buckeye tree. The Ohio Buckeye is distinct with its opposite leaf arrangement and palmately compound leaf complexity. The tree also had 5 leaflets that had entire leaf margins. I was lucky enough to find a large fruit on the tree, which was very spiky and distinctive of the Ohio Buckeye. The Ohio Buckeye tree was located in the Cincinnati Nature Center along a walking trail and in a forest environment. One interesting thing I found about the Ohio Buckeye tree is that before synthetic materials were used, buckeye wood was used in creating artificial limbs.(https://www.arborday.org/programs/nationaltree/buckeye.cfm)

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of the Ohio Buckeye

Full view of the Ohio Buckeye

Ohio Buckeye fruit and seed

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

A very common tree that I came across was the White Ash. The White Ash has an opposite leaf arrangement and a pinnately compound leaf complexity. The leaflets were in sets of 7 and the leaf margins were serrate and smooth. The White Ash trees that I came across were spread throughout the entire nature center in a forest/woodlands environment. One of the many uses for the White Ash tree is that Native Americans used the mashed leaves and seeds as a variety of medicines. (https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_fram2.pdf )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of the White Ash

White Ash form and trunk

 

Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

The Silver Maple tree was a very distinct tree present at the nature center. The Silver Maple has opposite leaf arrangement and simple leaf complexity. The leaves are deeply five-lobed and have a distinct serrate margin. The Silver Maples that I encountered were closer to the streams and lake/pond areas of the Cincinnati Nature Center, suggesting a wetland environment. An interesting fact that I found about the Silver Maple is that early settlers of the Ohio Valley preferred sap from the Silver Maple rather than the Sugar Maple because of its high sugar quality. (https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=869 )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of the Silver Maple

White Oak (Quercus alba)

A tree that I was already familiar with that I found was the White Oak. The White Oak has an alternate leaf arrangement and a simple leaf complexity. The leaves of the White Oak are deeply lobed. The White Oaks in the nature center were widespread in a forest environment. A cool fact about White Oaks is that their lumber was used to build the USS Constitution, which is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel that is still afloat (launched in 1797)! (https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=883 )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of White Oak (leaves were difficult to take pictures of due to drought)

Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar (Liridendron tulipifera)

A very interesting tree that I found was the Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar. The Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar has an alternate leaf arrangement and simple leaf complexity. The leaves of this tree are four-lobed with a distinctive “notch” at the tip of the leaf. The Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar was a very tall tree at the nature center and they lived in the forest environment amongst many of the other trees. An interesting fact that I found about the Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar is that George Washington planted some of these trees at Mount Vernon and some of them have now grown up to 140 feet tall. (https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/treedetail.cfm?itemID=930 )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of the Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar

Full form of the Tulptree/Yellow Poplar

Hackberry Tree (Celtis occidentalis)

An uncommon tree that I found at the Cincinnati Nature Center was the Hackberry Tree. The Hackberry Tree has an alternate leaf arrangement and a simple leaf complexity. The leaves of the Hackberry Tree have a very serrate leaf margin and have an almost heart shape. I found this tree along the stream banks in the nature center where much of the limestone bedrock is exposed. Hackberry Trees are very ecologically important for winter birds, specifically the cedar waxwing, mockingbird, and robin. (https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=845 )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of the Hackberry Tree

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

Another interesting tree that I found was the American Beech. The American Beech has an alternate leaf arrangement and a simple leaf complexity. The leaves of the American Beech have a serrate leaf margin and are elliptical in shape with a tooth at the end of every principle vein. The American Beech trees I found in the Cincinnati Nature Center were near the pond and swamp-like environments. A fun fact I found about the American Beech is that they were home to migrating Passenger Pigeons in hilly areas before the birds went extinct. (https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail.cfm?ItemID=789 )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of the American Beech

American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)

The final tree for this post is the American Hornbeam. The American Hornbeam has an alternate leaf arrangement and a simple leaf complexity. The leaves of the American Hornbeam have a finely serrate leaf margin and the leaves are oblong in shape. In the nature center, the American Hornbeam trees were mostly in the understory and along the stream environments. An interesting fact that I found on the American Hornbeam is that beavers use the wood for their dams due to their abundance near waterways. (https://nfs.unl.edu/woody-plants/musclewood-hornbeam )

Leaf arrangement and leaf complexity of American Hornbeam

Trunk of the American Hornbeam