Vegetative key to some woody plants on campus

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1 leaves needle-like or scale-like

2 leaves appearing whorled, scale-like Libocedrus decurrens (Cupressaceae)

2' leaves alternate or opposite, needle-like

3 leaves or leaf clusters alternate

4 needles sheathed in fascicles and grouped

5 clusters with 2 needles Pinus nigra (Pinaceae)

5' at least some clusters with 3 needles Pinus ponderosa (Pinaceae)

4' needles not sheathed in fascicles and solitary

6 bare twigs (after needles have dropped) smooth Abies concolor (Pinaceae)

6' bare twigs with peg-like projections Picea pungens (Pinaceae)

3’ leaves opposite Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Taxodiaceae)
1' leaves neither needle-like nor scale-like

7 leaves compound

8 leaves palmately compound

9 leaves opposite, no tendrils present Aesculus hippocastanum (Hippocastanaceae)

9' leaves alternate, tendrils present Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Vitaceae)

8' leaves otherwise compound

10 leaves usually trifoliate, sometimes with 5 leaflets Acer negundo (Aceraceae)

10' leaves pinnately or bipinnately compound,

with 5 or more leaflets

11 leaves once-pinnately compound

12 no stipules present, leaves opposite Fraxinus sp. (Oleaceae)

12' stipules present, leaves alternate Rosa sp. (Rosaceae)

11’ leaves bipinnately compound Albizia julibrissin (Fabaceae)

7' leaves simple

13 leaves opposite

14 leaves palmately veined and lobed Acer platanoides (Aceraceae)

14' leaves pinnately veined, not lobed

15 leaves densely hairy beneath Viburnum rhytidophyllum (Caprifoliaceae)

15' leaves glabrous or nearly so

16 leaves sessile Kolkwitzia amabilis (Caprifoliaceae)

16' leaves short-petiolate Euonymus sp. (Celastraceae)
13' leaves alternate

17 leaves pinnately lobed Quercus robur (Fagaceae)

17' leaves not lobed

18 plants with spines Berberis sp. (Berberidaceae)

18' plants without spines

19 leaves elliptic Zelkova serrata (Ulmaceae)

19' leaves cordate

20 leaf margins toothed Tilia platyphyllos (Tiliaceae)

20’ leaf margins entire Cercis occidentalis (Fabaceae)
Talk about quiz.

Mad Cap Horse (maple, ash, dogwood, Caprifoliaceae, horse chestnut, also Celastraceae)

Acer negundo (Aceraceae): boxelder; native
Acer platanoides (Aceraceae): show growth first year (green), previous years show bud scales/branches at bud often; sometimes two flushes of growth in a given year; platanoides = like Platanus (plane tree), London plane is Platanus x acerifolia = maple-leaved
Aesculus hippocastanum (Hippocastanaceae): serrate. Europe
Berberis (Berberidaceae): short shoots, subtending leaves are spines, think about how this can be discovered, alternate
Cedrus atlantica (Pinaceae): short shoots, true cedar
Cercis occidentalis (Fabaceae): legume; indentation on leaf apex (leaf emarginate) or leaf apex rounded separates from C. canadensis which has acuminate leaves; native to UT (Garfield, Kane, San Juan, Washington), CA, NV, AZ
Cornus (Cornaceae): opposite leaves, tell from opposite-leaves, four-petaled Euonymus because Cornus has inferior ovary and Euonymus has superior ovary
Euonymus (Celastraceae): opposite leaves, the family of opposite-leaves woody plants not in MAD Cap Horse
Gymnocladus dioicus (Fabaceae): dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants); small stipules; two axillary buds, native to Midwest
Fraxinus (ask if anyone knows the species)(Oleaceae): sometimes on suckers, or reiterative shoots (?) shoots, the plant grows so quickly leaves are not opposite
Juniperus scopulorum (Cupressaceae): scale-like leaves
Kolkwitzia amabilis (Caprifoliaceae): from China, monotypic
Libocedrus decurrens (Cupressaceae): “whorled” leaves really opposite leaves in two ranks, note cones
Lonicera (Caprifoliaceae): usually opposite leaves but on adventive shoots leaves are in whorls of three
Mahonia aquifolium (Berberidaceae): tell from native M. repens by shiny leaves; pinnately compound leaves (axillary bud); hairlike stipules; show fruits (OR grape)

Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Taxodiaceae): deciduous branchlets, like compound leaves but actually branchlets because other branchlets can form in axils of leaves (i.e., leaves have axillary buds), leaves opposite
Opuntia (Cactaceae): spines (large and small(=glochids)) are leaves of a short shoot, subtending leaf is the fleshy leaf still present on new growth
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Vitaceae): modified terminal shoot (turned into tendrils terminating with adhesive disks), axillary shoot continues the vine (sympodial branching, when longitudinal axis of vine develops from succession of axillary shoots; monopodial when longitudinal axis of vine comes from terminal bud)
Picea pungens (Pinaceae): native; cones down and falling whole; leaves square in cross-section
Pinus nigra (Pinaceae): short shoots again, short shoots composed of two needles plus scale-like leaves surrounding their bases, bract-like leaf subtending the shoot remains on branches once branchlets have dropped off; show pollen cones, seed cones (current year’s, previous year’s)
Pinus ponderosa (Pinaceae): native
Rosa sp. (Rosaceae): prickles because come from outgrowths of bark; stipules; alternate leaves
Sequoiadendron giganteum (Taxodiaceae): heaviest tree, compare with Metasequoia, cones on ground, lightning rod
Taxus cuspidata (Taxaceae): branchlets not deciduous (unlike Metasequoia), alternate leaves, not deciduous, can tell because of different colors of current year’s and previous years’ needles
Tilia platyphyllos (Tiliaceae): alternate, cordate leaves; unequal leaf bases
Viburnum rhytidophyllum (Caprifoliaceae): naked buds (no bud scales), rugose venation, scurfy pubescence on underside of leaves, umbellate inflorescence
Zelkova serrata or Z. japonica (Ulmaceae): alternate leaves with axillary fruits, largest Zelkova known

Viburnum rhytidophyllum

Tilia platyphyllos

Acer platanoides

Picea pungens

Abies concolor

Zelkova serrata

Juniperus scopulorum/Chamaecyparis lawsoniana


Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Sequoiadendron giganteum



Cercis occidentalis

Taxus cuspidata

Gymnocladus dioicus



Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Libocedrus decurrens

Pinus nigra


Kolkwitzia amabilis

Acer negundo



Pinus ponderosa


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