The American Elm, or Ulmus americana, can also be known as White Elm depending on where you are located. For this tree, it tends to have an asymmetrical base, doubly serrated margins, and prominent veins on the leaf. They can vary in size; however, the leaves are elliptical to ovate and they are usually smooth on the upper surfaces. American Elms tend to be one of the first trees to have floral bud swelling; starting in January or February. The flowers develop into small, oval, flat fruits known as samaras. Samaras have a distinctive notch and have tiny hairs at the edge of the fruit. The tree can also be identified through the flattened ridged bark that typically has intervening furrows. American Elms can also be characterized by their vase shape: a straight trunk that typically divides into several larger branches, and ultimately creates a vase shape with branches of lesser size. For American Elms the bud arrangement is alternate with lateral buds being small approximately ¼’ long. The habitat for American Elm can be present in a variety of habitats such as bottomlands, floodplains, stream banks, swampy ground, hillsides, uplands, and other well-drained soils. This tree was found outside my workplace in Centerville Ohio. An interesting fact about the American Elm is that is estimated to be associated with more historical events then any other American tree. It has been connected to historical events and figures such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and William Penn.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. American Elm, May 2021, ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/american-elm-ulmus-americana
The Ohio Buckeye, also known as Aesculus glabra, is the state tree of Ohio. It is primarily found in the understory of stands and is more common in the western half of Ohio. It is a native plant of the Midwest and may reach between 30 to 60 ft tall. It prefers well-drained soils with some flexibility for different pH levels however, it can be found in a variety of environments and habitats. The specimen in this photo was located at a metro park. It does prefer sunny conditions but can grow in a wide range of sun levels. The leaves of the buckeye are, palmately compound, small and elliptical with the widest length neat the center of the leaf with a drawn-out pointed tip. As early spring hits, the buckeye will develop yellow-green flowers that emerge with or slightly before the foliage. Their stamens are long and extend beyond the petals and the fruits of the buckeye usually contain one seed enclosed in a spiny golden-brown husk. One interesting fact regarding the Buckeye is that the nut while poisonous to humans is a particular favorite to other species such as squirrels.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. Ohio Buckeye, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/ohio-buckeye-aesculus-glabra
Honey Locust, also known as Gleditsia triacanthos, is a fast-growing tree that can be found throughout Ohio. This tree prefers the downslope area of streams and more wet conditions however it can exist outside of that preferred habitat. It tends to be mostly found in bottomland woods, old pastures, or prairie-like areas. This particular tree was located at a metro part. This species tends to have large trunks with alternating branches that often have thorns on them. It can grow between 50 to 80 ft tall and tends to grow best during spring and summer. The flowers have a fragrance and are a yellow-green cue. They tend to produce in clumps along the twigs and branches. The fruits grow in pods with a length of 20 to 40 cm and as the fruit matures a sticky liquid forms inside separating the seeds from one another. The leases can be either pinnately or bipinnately compound. The honey locust is one of the first trees to shed its leaves in the fall and when they turn yellowishly toned in the fall is when they are at their most mature. An interesting fact about the honey locust is that due to its frame it is often harvested to make upholstered sofas as it can handle the upholstery process well.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. Honey Locust, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/Honeylocust-Gleditsia-triacanthos
River Birch, also known as Betula nigra, tends to be found in the south-central area of Ohio and has some larger numbers around Lake Erie. It has been widely planted as an ornamental shade tree and due to its rapid growth rate. This particular tree was found outside my workplace in Centerville Ohio. It can grow between 40 to 70 ft tall and can grow either as a single straight trunk or split into multiple main trunks. It has a red undertone in its bark, and It does act in a peeling motion that shows this color. This species can tolerate various levels of wetness and some level of drought. The leaves are alternate, simple, and tend to be between 2 to 4 inches long and around ¾” – 2 ½” inches wide. They are medium to dark green in the summer and then turn yellow in the fall where they typically fall shortly after. The male and female flowers do appear different in appearance. The male flowers tend to be 2 to 3” inches long, are slender dark brown catkins that cluster and droop while female flowers have ¼ – ¾”” inch long catkins with green scales. The fruits are found in nutlets that also have a catkin and it ripens in spring. An interesting fact about the River birch is that it used to be used to make rice casks in the South until eventually, hickory replaced it.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. River Birch, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/river-birch-Betula-nigra
American Hophornbeam, also known as Ostrya virginiana, can be found throughout Ohio. Depending on where you are located in Ohio it is often also called Eastern Hornbeam or Ironwood. This tree species tends to grow slowly and has an upright pyramidal form. It can survive in a variety of habitats, ranging from very dry, to very moist or mid-range soils. The specimen was found at a metro park. This species can reach heights of between 25 to 30 ft and it prefers well-drained, moist, and slightly acidic soils. The leaves are alternate, elliptical, doubly serrated, and tend to have prominent veins with a drawn-out tip. As they change color in fall they tend to turn a color of yellow-brown. The Hophornbeam flowers are a monoecious species and have male catkins that are green and detectable mid-summer. The female flowers tend to be smaller and give rise to hop-like fruits that are lime green in early summer and eventually turn to a brown color. The bark tends to have thin vertical strips in it, is a gray-brown color, and has some slight shredding at the ends. An interesting fact about the Hophornbeam is that the fruit is widely popular by a variety of wildlife such as pheasant, rabbit, turkey and grouse.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. American Hophornbeam, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/American-hornbeam-Ostrya-virginiana
Sweetgum, also known as Liquidambar styraciflua, and is typically found in the southernmost parts of Ohio. It typically is planted as a shade tree and ornamental tree due to its bright fall colors. Sweetgum tends to be found in wet river bottoms or on drier uplands. This particular specimen was found around my neighborhood. It can grow between 80 to 120 ft tall and can have 2-3 ft diameter. This tree tends to prefer full sun however, they can tolerant other levels of sun. The bark is a light gray bark with vertical, irregular ridges. The leaves are star-shaped with large palmate leaves that tend to have between three to seven lobes. They can grow between 5 – 8” inches long and have pointed blades. Sweetgum trees also have fruits known as capsules, sweetgum fruits or gumballs. These fruits tend to be hard, brown, and woody feeling and they typically are between 1-3” cm in size. The flowers tend to be small and inconspicuous clusters of yellow green flowers that typically bloom in April and May. An interesting fact about the Sweetgum is that when their leaves are crushed and can be used as a natural fragrance.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. Sweetgum, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/Sweetgum-Liquidambar-styraciflua
Silver maple, also known as Acer saccharinum, is a tree species that is found all throughout Ohio. It typically is used a common shade tree and enjoys wet sites. Its natural habitats tend to be stream banks, floodplains, and lake edges. This particular specimen was found during a walk around my neighborhood. These trees can grow between 50 – 80 ft tall and can be several feet in diameter. They tend to prefer full sun or partial shade however it can survive in higher shade areas. It can survive in a variety of soil types but prefers deep, moist, acidic soil. The leaves are five-lobed and deeply cut between the lobes. They also have a silvery-white edge or look to them on the bottom which is where they get their name. These trees tend to produce a prolific amount of seeds in the early spring. The seeds tend to grow into a pair of “wings” that separate and whirl down from the tend when they are ready. The bark is smooth on the branches however, the trunk bark tends to be rougher. An interesting fact about this tree is that it also produces sap and the sap can be considered superior to other maple trees for sugar quality. However,due to the slow speed of the sap it made the process too slow for commercial purposes so the industry switched to sugar maples.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. Silver Maple, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/Silver-Maple-Acer-saccharinum
Shagbark Hickory, also known as Carya ovata, is a slow-growing tree that is found throughout most of Ohio. It tends to prefer dry uplands or moist valley habitats. However, it can grow in a variety of climates and habitats. This specimen was found in my neighborhood during a walk. This species tends to thrive in full sun and rich well-drained soil. Shagbarks can grow between 60-80 ft tall and several feet wide. They tend to be a high branching tree with a straighter and slenderer trunk along with having a narrow crown. Over time lower branches droop and the upper branches ascend as the tree matures it begins to have the peeling look to its bark. The male flowers are 4 to 5” catkins while the female flowers are in small 2-5 flowered spikes. The fruit is an edible nut that develops in a thick green husk. The leaves generally are between 8-14” long with five leaflets and they slowly change from green to yellow-green in the summer and eventually full yellow in the fall. An interesting fact regarding the Shagbark is that it is considered the symbol of the pioneer age as it was frequently used to build wagons, houses, and other items.
Citation: Natural Resources, Ohio Department. Shagbark Hictory, May 2021, https://ohiodnr.gov/wps/portal/gov/odnr/discover-and-learn/plants-trees/broad-leaf-trees/shagbark-hickory-Carya-ovata