Leaves Alternate


a) Margins of leaflets entire > J pC '

CJadrastis, Gymnocladus, Sophora, Robrnia, Laburnum, Cedrela a' Q /


b) Margins of leaflets finely ;>('} toothed r ft C-

Ailanthus, Juglanl, Carya, Pterocaryaj Gleditschia, Sorbus


c) Margins leaflets deeply hj J toothed and sometimes more or Ay y less lobed It-*

Kcelreuterla, Rhu* * ''"-'» "' '


2. LEAVES OPPOS^^^^^^^^I

a) Leaves pinnate Q C Q

Acer negundo, Fraxinum ?


b) Leaves palmate



Diospyros Lotus

Diospyros rirginiant


DIOSPYROS SPP. (Persimmon)

The members of this genus are deciduous trees or sbrubs, mostly tropical, with alternate entire leaves and hard heavy wood. The fruit is a succulent berry with a persistent calyx. Several tropical species are the source of ebony. The three following species are occasionally grown in Britain.

Diospyros kaki L. (Chinese Persimmon). A tree 30 to 50 feet high with shiny dark green foliage. The bright red edible fruit resembles a tomato and is about two inches across.

Diospyros virginiana L. (Common Persimmon), A species common in eastern United States where it reaches more than 100 feet. The yellow fruits are tinged with red and are about an inch across. They are often eaten in America but are rarely produced on trees grown in Britain. Diospyros lotus L. (Date Plum). This species, a native of China and the Himalayas, is a tree up to 50 feet high with yellow or bluish fruits. It is hardy but rarely planted in Britain. (Ebenaceae)

Smooth Barked Trees Palmated Leave

CERCIS SILIQUASTRUM L. (Judas Tree) This deciduous tree is a native of the Mediterranean area. It is 20 to 35 feet high with a smooth bark and alternate heart-shaped leaves. The clusters of reddish-purple flowers are produced directly on the woody branches and usually appear before the leaves, The fruit is a compressed red pod about five inches long which contains several seeds.

The Judas Tree will tolerate most types of soil and can withstand drought, it grows well in southern England and is often planted in gardens. Varieties with white and pink flowers are known.

There are about seven species of Cercis, all natives of North Temperate regions. Redbud, C. canadensis, is a North American tree about 30 feet high with deep pink flowers. (Caesalptniaceae)

MAGNOLIA SPP, (Magnolias)

These are small trees or shrubs with large buds and alternate, simple leaves. Some species are deciduous, others evergreen. The terminal flowers are usually large and the parts are inserted separately on the floral axis. The fruit, which consists of numerous one-seeded achenes, has the appearance of an elongated cone. There are about 30 species, natives of Asia and North America. Magnolia acuminata L. (Cucumber Tree). This is a deciduous North American tree which can reach a height of 90 feet. The ovate, pointed leaves are up to 10 inches long and softly hairy below. The erect flowers are dull greenish-yellow and the fruits are dark red. Magnolia x soulangeana Soul. This commonly grown deciduous tree is a hybrid between two Chinese species, M. liliflora and M. denúdala. It reaches a height of 30 feet and has ovate leaves about six inches long. The flowers are white or purple with the outer petals shorter than the inner ones. There are numerous cultivated varieties.

Magnolia grandiflora L, (Bull Bay). This is an evergreen tree up to 80 feet high which comes from south-east United States. The leathery dark green leaves are about 10 inches long, glossy above and covered with felted rust-coloured hairs below. The fragrant creamy-white flowers are eight inches or more across. The large ovoid fruit is covered with brown hairs. Other deciduous species sometimes planted in gardens include M. stellata from Japan, a shrub 10 to 15 feet high with white starlike flowers which appear before the leaves, M. wilsonii, a native of China with fragrant, white cup-shaped flowers, and M. macrophylla, an American species with leaves up to three feet long, (Magnoliaceae)

Magnoliaceae Magnolia SoulangianaMaclura Pomifera Bud

MACLURA POMIFERA Schneid. (Sow Wood, Osage Orange)

A native of southern and eastern United States, this deciduous tree reaches 35 to 70 feet in height. The stems bear alternate glossy dark green entire leaves and also sharp thorns. The trees are unisexual and have insignificant flowers. The round rough yellow-green compound fruit is about four inches across but is not edible.

This tree will grow In Britain and is particularly attractive in the autumn when the leaves turn yellow. It can be trimmed and Is often used for hedges in America. The hard heavy wood is orange in colour but turns brown when exposed. It was formerly used by American In» dians, especially of the Osage tribe,' for malting clubs and bows. They also extracted a dye from it to stain their skins. (Moraceae)

Pollarded Osier

SALIX VIMINALIS L. {Common Osier) This is a small deciduous tree or shrub, at most 25 feet in height, which is common near water throughout lowland Britain, Europe, northern Asia and Japan. The young branches are very long, slender and flexible. The alternate shortly statked leaves have long narrow pointed blades which have undulate margins and are covered with silvery hairs on the under surfaces. Like all willows the trees are unisexual and the small flowers are borne in cylindrical erect catkins which appear before the leaves.

The supple branches are in great demand for basket-making and to encourage their development it is continually cut back and so loses its character as a tree. There are numerous varieties and hybrids with other species, particularly 5. cinerea and S. caprea {p. 72), are common. (Salicaceae)

Brown Seed Cone Discolor Willow

SALIX ALBA L. (White Willow)

This is a tall graceful tree up 1o 90 feet high common near water throughout Britain, Europe to central Asia and in North Africa. The alternate shortly stalked leaves are up to four inches long. The lanceolate leaf blade has a serrated margin; underneath it is covered with white silky hairs. The catkins of both sexes are slender. There are several distinct varieties of this species. The Golden Willow, v, vitellina, has conspicuous orange-yellow stems and is often grown in parks and gardens. The Cricket-bat Willow, v, coerulea, has broader bluish-green leaves. It is common in southern England and provides the best wood for cricket bats.

The White Willow is often confused with the Crack Willow (p. 70) and hybrids between them are frequent. (Salicaceae)

Weeping Willow Birch

SAUX BABYLONICA L, {Weeping Willow) Although often staled to be a native of China there is some doubt about its true country of origin. It is a graceful tree up to 60 feet in height with a deeply fissured bark and long slender drooping branches. The lanceolate leaves have short stalks and lanceolate pointed blades which are pale green above and somewhat glaucous below.

Weeping Willows are commonly planted in parks and gardens in Britain but most of these are not 5. babylonica itself but hybrids between it and 5. alba (p. 68) or S, fragilis (p. 70). They show intermediate characters but retain the weeping habit. Only female trees are known in Britain, It is the first of our deciduous trees to break Into leaf in spring and one of the last to shed its leaves in autumn. (Salicaceae)

Crack Willow Leaf

SALI X FRAG/LIS L. (Crack Willow) This species is common in wet places in Britain, Europe, Siberia and Persia. It is 60 to 90 feet high with spreading branches, a rounded crown and a thick trunk covered by a deeply fissured bark. Characteristically the twigs can be easily broken at the base from their parent branches. The alternate leaves are up to six inches long, lanceolate with a coarsely toothed margin and are without hairs when mature. The catkins are stouter than those of 5, alba.

Both the Crack Willow and White Willow are often pollarded and they are often confused, especially as hybrids between them are frequent. Further, a number of varieties of doubtful status exist including the Red Willow, v. sanguínea, with red shiny twigs and the Bedford Willow, v. russelliana, a tall tree with coarsely ser* rated leaves and olive-brown twigs. (Salicaceae)

Evergreen Tree With Narrow Leaves

SAUX PURPUREA L. (Purple Osier) More often a shrub than a tree the Purple Osier grows up to about 10 feet. II is widespread In Britain, Europsn Asia and North Africa. The young twigs are glossy, purple and devoid of hairs. Although sometimes alternate the leaves are often more or ¡ess opposite. They are lanceolate, up to three inches long, dull bluish-green above, glaucous beneath and have toothed margins especially towards the tip. The narrow cylindrical catkins are about an inch long and appear before the leaves. This is a very variable species and there are many named varieties some of which are planted for ornamental purposes. It also hybridizes freely with other species. It is often planted by swift-flowing streams to stabilize the banks, (Salicaceae)

Salicaceae Leaf

ftmal* catkin

SAUX CAPREA L. (Goat Willow, Palm) This is a small tree or shrub up to 30 feet high which * widespread throughout Britain, Europe and Asia. The smooth twigs are yellowish but often have a tinge of red. The alternate stalked leaves are up to four inches long. The oval more or less pointed leaves have crenate margins and are dark green above but are covered with dense grey hairs on the under surfaces. The ovoid catkins emerge welt before the leaves unfold and in fact this is the earliest to flower among our native willows. Two other species with leaves almost as broad as long are S. aurita, the Round-eared Willow, a shrub frequent on marshy land, and S. cinerea, the Common Sallow with grey-green foliage. Twigs bearing male catkins of the Goat Willow, also known as the Pussy Willow, and of the Common Sallow, are used as 'Palms' for church decoration on Palm Sunday. (Salicaceae)

Salicaceae Populus Alba

POPULUS ALBA L. (White Poplar) This poplar is a native of central and eastern Europe and western Asia but it has been widely planted elsewhere Including Britain. It is a beautiful tree up to 80 feet high with smooth grey bark. The alternate long-stalked leaves are dark green above and covered with thick white hairs underneath. Those on short shoots have ovate blades with broad triangular teeth but on the long and sucker shoots the leaf blades are palmate. The small male and female catkins are borne in pendulous catkins on separate trees. It is often planted by roadsides and near the sea in southern England. P. canescens, the Grey Poplar, is a similar but taller tree, more commonly planted in southern England than P. alba. The leaves on the long shoots and suckers are triangular, not palmate, and the hairy covering tends to wear off during the summer. (Salicaceae)

Yellows Catkins Populus Nigra

POPULUS NIGRA L. {Black Poplar) This fine tree, 70 to 100 feet high, is common in wet places throughout Europe and western Asia. The trunk has a black deeply fissured bark and characteristically bears large rounded bosses. The long branches tend to hang downwards and bear alternate stalked leaves with toothed rhomboidal blades. The fruiting catkins are up to six inches long.

It is almost certain that this species is a native in southern parts of Britain but most specimens have been planted. It is a variable tree, the best known variety being v. italica, the Lombardy Poplar, which has a fasti-giate habit and paler bark.

The Black Italian Poplar, P. x canadensis, is a hybrid between P. nigra and P. deltoides (p. 75), It Is a tall tree with a fan-shaped crown, more frequently grown than P. nigra. Only the male is known and propagation is effected by cuttings. (Salicaceae)

Populus Deltoides Marshall


This poplar is a native of south-eastern United States. It grows quickly and reaches a height of 100 feet. The alternate leaves are up to eight inches long with compressed stalks and deltoid pointed toothed dark green leaves. As already mentioned this is probably one of the parents of the Black Italian Popiar. Also, it is often confused with P. monilifera, the Canadian Black Poplar from eastern North America, which has leaves that are not as long as they are wide. (Salicaceae)

mate catfiln mate catfiln


The Aspen is an attractive tree widespread throughout Europe and temperate Asia to Japan. In Britain it grows on poor soils particularly in the north and west. It reaches 80 feet in height and has a grey bark and shiny brown buds. It produces abundant suckers at the base. The ieaves vary greatly in size but always have very long compressed stalks so that they shake in the wind. The !eaf blade, which is usually devoid of hairs when maiure, is more or less rounded and has a coarsely toothed margin. Flowering occurs in February or March and the red male catkins are up to four inches long. Several varieties are recognized, based mainly on the size and hairiness of the leaves. Intermediate hybrids P. x hybrids between the Aspen and the Grey Poplar are sometimes found. (Salicaceae)

Aspen Populus Tremula Bark

POPULUS TRCMULOIDES Mich*. (American Aspen) This North American tree reaches a height of 100 feet. It has reddish-brown twigs and sticky bud scales. The alternate leaves have long compressed stalks and rounded, pointed dark green blades with toothed margins. It is occasionally grown in gardens. There are about 30 species of Poplars but as can be seen they are variable and hybridize freely. They grow quickly and the wood is soft and not very durable but provides an important source of paper pulp. Apart from those already described the only other Poplar likely to be found outside gardens is the attractive Balm of Gilead, P. gileadensis. Only female trees are known and its origin is uncertain although it has been in cultivation since the middle of the 18th century, (Salicaceae)

Carpinus Betulus Nut

CARPINUS BETULUS L. (Hornbeam) This Is a graceful deciduous tree attaining 90 feet under favourable conditions; it is a native of Europe and Asia Minor. It is also a true native on the heavy soils of southern England but has been planted farther north. The trunk has a fissured bark and bears long slender somewhat pendulous branches. The alternate leaves have thin stalks and bright green ovate toothed blades, The male and female flowers are borne in separate catkins on the same tree. The fruit is an ovoid flattened nut attached to a large trilobed bract. The wood Is very hard and was formerly used for such things as ox-yokes, mill cogs and also for fuel. The Hornbeam makes an excellent hedge. (Corylaceae)



The Beech is a native of Europe and western Russia. It is believed to he a true native in southern England where it is frequently dominant on chalk. Elsewhere it has been planted and thrives on well-drained soils. It Is a handsome tree often 100 feet high with silver-grey bark and rounded crown. The alternate leaves have thin stalks and elliptical blades with entire margins bearing silky hairs. The male flowers occur in heads on long slender stalks and the pairs of female flowers are enclosed in stalked, spiny cupules. The triangular fruits are released when the lour lobes of the woody cupule bend back in the autumn.

The fruits. Beech mast, were formerly important as pig food and an edible oil can be extracted from them. The hard pale wood Is often used for making furniture. (Fagaceae)

Betula Pendula Betula Alba

BETULA PENDULA Roth (Silver Birch) This graceful tree occurs throughout Europe, western Russia and Asia Minor. It is common in Britain particularly on sandy heathlands of the south. It reaches a height of 70 feet and has a silvery-white bark. The young twigs are brown, shiny and bear conspicuous whitish warts. The leaf stalks are thin and the blades are ovate, pointed and have margins with large and small teeth. The narrow cylindrical male catkins are pendulous. The smaller female catkins are erect at first but later become stouter and hang down. They break up In the autumn, releasing the small winged fruits. B. pubescens Is very similar but has hairy young stems and irregularly toothed leaves. It is not so tolerant of dry conditions as S. pendula and is more frequent in the north and west. Hybrids between these two species have often been recorded but their exact status has not been determined. (Betulaceae)

Very Young Birch Trees

BETULA PAPYRIFERA Marshall (Paper Birch, Canoe Birch)

This is a deciduous tree from North America. It is up to 100 feet in height and has a smooth white bark. The branches are rigid and the young warted stems bear alternate stalked leaves about three inches long. The broadly ovate blades are pointed and have irregularly toothed margins.

This species and its varieties, which include v, occiden-talis with a brownish red bark, are occasionally planted in gardens. The bark Is used for making canoes by North American Indians.

Other species which are sometimes planted include S, lenta, the Cherry Birch, a North American tree from which oil of wintergreen is extracted, B. lutea, the Yellow Birch also from North America, and B. ulilis, the Himalayan Birch. (Betulaceae)

Young Corylus Colurna

CORYLUS COLURNA L. (Turkish Hazel) This hazel is found in the Balkans and Asia Minor and eastwards to China, Well grown trees can be as much as 80 feet high. The alternate leaves have long stalks and heart-shaped blades with large and small serrations. The cylindrical pendulous male catkins are up to lour inches long but the female flowers are borne in a small ovoid bud-like structure from the tip of which the red stigmas protrude. The nuts are clustered and surrounded by bracts with long narrow segments. The Turkish Hazel is occasionaily planted in gardens. The Common Hazel, C, avellana, is widespread throughout the British Isies and Europe. It is a shrub up to 20 feet high with shorter and less divided bracts surrounding the pale brown nuts. The Filbert, C. maxima, is a native of south-east Europe. (Corylaceae)

Filbert Shoots Trunk

CASTANEA SATIVA Mill. (Sweet Chestnut, Spanish Chestnut) The Sweet Chestnut is common throughout southern Europe but its native range is uncertain owing to extensive planting. It grows well in Britain except on alkaline soils and has become naturalized In south-east England. It Is a handsome tree up to a 100 feet high with a spirally fissured dark brown bark. The alternate, broadly Ian-ceolate leaves have serrated margins and conspicuous parallel veins. The pale yellow tasseMike catkins are up to six inches long and are more or less erect. Most of the flowers are male with a few female flowers at the base. The large brown nuts are enclosed in a green woody cupula covered with many sharp spines. Good nuts are sometimes produced In this country but the best come from southern Europe. The tree also provides a valuable timber and Is often coppiced, especially in southern England, for hop-poles and fence posts. (Fagaceae)

TILIA SPP. (Limes)

The trees belonging to this genus grow quickly and have a bark which is smooth at first but iater becomes cracked. They are deciduous and the alternate stalked leaves are usually heart-shaped with toothed margins. Each small group of scented flowers has a common stalk which is partially fused to an elongated bract. The small woody fruit is more or less globose and contains one to three seeds. This is a small genus and most species are North Temperate. There are three common members in Britain but others are sometimes planted. Tilia cordata Mill. (Small-leaved Lime). This is a native of central and eastern Europe, and western Asia as far as the Caucasus. It is widespread in England and Wales but is commonest on limestone. It is up to 80 feet in height and the twigs are hairy when young. The small, almost circular leaves are about two inches across and the blade ends In an abrupt point. The leaf blade is smooth below except for tufts of brown hairs in the axils of the veins. The fruit has a thin smooth outer layer. Tilia platyphyllos Scop. (Large-leaved Lime). This tree has a natural range similar to that of T. cordata and appears to be a native in the Wye Valley and south Yorkshire but has often been planted elsewhere in Britain. It reaches 100 feet in height with leaves up to five inches long which are covered with white hairs below. It flowers somewhat earlier than the previous species; there are often fewer flowers in each pendulous group and the fruit has three to five vertical ribs. Tilia x europea L. (Common Lime). This is a hybrid between the previous two species which has been widely planted in Europe and Britain. It is a variable tree with characters intermediate between those of its parent species; and it is fertile. It reaches a height of 90 feet

Tiliaceae Urban Forestry Italy

Tilla cordata flower and the leaves, which are up to tour inches long, have tufts ot white hairs in the axils of the veins on the under surface. The clusters of flowers are pendulous and the fruits slightly ribbed. This is the tree often planted in parks and gardens in spite of the unsightiy large bosses which are often formed on the trunk and the tact that it is always infected by aphids which secrete a copious sticky honey-dew.

Other species sometimes planted in gardens include the White Lime, T. tomentosa, from eastern Europe and the large American Lime, T. glabra. (Tiliaceae)

ALNUS SPP. (Alders)

Most Alders are small deciduous trees of temperate regions. The alternate leaves have stalks and toothed blades. The small green male flowers are borne In pendulous catkins which are visible In the autumn before they mature in the following spring. The ovoid female catkins develop into black woody cone-like structures which persist on the tree after the winged fruits have been shed.

Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. (Common Alder). This species is widespread in Europe, western Asia and North Africa. It occurs throughout Britain especially in wet soils by lakes and streams. It is 20 to 100 leet high and has a dark fissured bark. The purplish buds are shortly stalked and the dark green leaves, which are sticky when young, have obovate toothed blades up to four inches long. The timber, although soft, is durable under water and rapidly turns bright orange on exposure to air. Alnus incana (L.) Moench. (Grey Alder). A native of Europe, western Asia and North America, the Grey Alder is sometimes planted in Britain and has become more or less naturalized. It has a smooth grey bark and pointed leaves which are hairy on the under surface. Alnus cordata Desf. (Italian Alder). This tree, up to 70 feet high, is a native of Italy and Corsica. It has a fissured bark and dark green heart-shaped leaves. The fruiting catkins are more than an Inch long. There are numerous cultivated varieties of A. glutinosa and A. incana which are planted as ornamental trees. Several other species are sometimes grown including the Oregon Alder, A. rubra, the Smooth Alder, A, rugosa, from North America and the Japanese Alder, A, japónica. (Betulaceae)

Catkins Britain

isla catkin*

female catkins muís catkins iA

female catkins trutting catkin

Alnas meant

Ainu s glutinosa

Ain us cordata

Photo Alnus Glutinosa Deciduous


This deciduous tree, which is a native of the Caucasus, attains 100 feet in height and has a short trunk with many ascending branches, The alternate leaves are similar to those of our native Hornbeam. They are up to three inches long with short stalks and ovate toothed blades. The fruits are small and, unlike those of the elm, are not winged.

It is occasionally planted in Britain but grows slowly.


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  • james morais
    What tree has long green catkins?
    8 years ago
  • Francis
    What tree does a smooth alder come from?
    8 years ago
    What are alternate leaves?
    6 years ago
  • Stephanie Hueber
    Where are Alternate leave trees?
    5 years ago

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