Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Revised and Updated

Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Revised and Updated


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Smell the bark of the aromatic Sassafras. Wonder at the Lodgepole Pine, whose heat-activated cones reseed forests destroyed by fire. Search for the Sugar Maple, whose foliage blazes red and yellow in autumn. North America's trees rank among nature's most awesome creations. This premier field guide features all characteristics-tree shape, bark, leaf, flower, fruit and twig-for quick identification, making it a superior choice for trail walks, creating displays, and scientific or commercial needs.

-All of North America in one volume
-Over 730 species in 76 families and 160 range maps
-Native species and important introduced foreign varieties
-Text, range maps, and illustrations seen together at a glance
-Common and scientific names
-Convenient measuring rules

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582380926
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/14/2001
Series: Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press Series
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 92,628
Product dimensions: 4.87(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.54(d)

About the Author

Golden Guides first appeared in 1949 and quickly established themselves as authorities on subjects from Natural History to Science. Relaunched in 2000, Golden Guides from St. Martin's Press feature modern, new covers as part of a multi-year, million-dollar program to revise, update, and expand the complete line of guides for a new generation of students.

Read an Excerpt

Trees of North America

A Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press

By C. Frank Brockman, Rebecca Merrilees

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2002 St. Martin's Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6247-0



This is a guide to the families of trees in this book, presenting in abbreviated form their principal features. Major families are described in greater detail later; smaller families are described only here. In this condensed treatment, comparison of families is made easy. Often, of course, the precise botanical characteristics by which plants are classified are too small — flower details, for example — to be useful in field identification by the amateur. These are omitted.


Gymnosperms do not have flowers in the commonly accepted sense; they produce naked seeds, usually on the scale of a cone. Many are evergreen, with needle-like, linear, or scalelike foliage.

YEW FAMILY (Taxaceae): leaves evergreen, linear (sides parallel), growing separately on twigs and not clustered; fruit one-seeded and drupaceous (plumlike) or with red, fleshy cup at base. Yews, Torreyas.

CYCAD FAMILY (Cycadaceae): tree-sized members palmlike; large, pinnate leaves; conelike male and female strobiles on separate trees; fruit a cone. Sago Palm, Fern Palm.

PINE FAMILY (Pinaceae): leaves evergreen (deciduous in larches), either needle-like or linear, single, in bundles (fascicles) or clusters; fruit a woody cone. Pines, Larches, Spruces, Hemlocks, True Firs, Douglas-firs.

REDWOOD FAMILY (Taxodiaceae): leaves linear or awl-like, single and in spirals on twig; most species evergreen; small woody cones. Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Baldcypress.

CEDAR OR CYPRESS FAMILY (Cupressaceae): foliage evergreen, opposite or whorled, usually scalelike and overlapping, or awl-like and spreading, occasionally in 3's, sometimes both on same tree; fruit a woody, leathery, or semi-fleshy cone. Cedars, Cypress, Junipers.

GINKGO FAMILY (Ginkgoaceae): one species (not native to N.A.); fanlike leaves; male and female strobiles on separate trees — male in catkin-like cluster, paired female on spurlike shoots; fruit drupaceous (plumlike), with foul odor.

ARAUCARIA FAMILY (Araucariaceae): not native to N.A.; evergreen; cone disintegrates when mature. Monkey Puzzle, Norfolk Island Pine.

PODOCARP FAMILY (Podocarpaceae): evergreens; no native N.A. species.


Angiosperms, true flowering plants, bear seeds within a closed vessel, often fleshy. Divided into Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons.

Monocotyledons: leaves evergreen, with parallel veins; flower parts in 3's; woody fibers irregularly distributed in stems, hence no annual rings.

PALM FAMILY (Palmae): tropical and subtropical trees; compound leaves, large and pinnate (feather-like) or palmate (fan-shaped) in a cluster at top of an unbranched trunk; fruits are berries (dates) or drupes (coconuts). Palms, Palmettos.

LILY FAMILY(Liliaceae): a large family with only a few tree-sized members; leaves tough, long, slim, and sharp-pointed; flowers in large, terminal panicles; fruit a papery, leathery, or woody capsule in some, berry-like in others. Yuccas.

Dicotyledons: leaves net-veined, mostly deciduous but some evergreen; stems increase in diameter by annual layers of wood of varying thickness, forming rings.

WILLOW FAMILY (Salicaceae): leaves simple, alternate, deciduous (leaves of Willows slender; leaves of most Poplars broad); staminate and pistillate catkins on different trees; fruits a capsule, with many small, tufted seeds.

WAXMYRTLE FAMILY (Myricaceae): shrubs or small trees; leaves evergreen, simple, alternate, aromatic, and with tiny resin dots; flowers in catkins; fruit a waxy drupe. Bayberries.

WALNUT FAMILY (Juglandaceae): large trees; leaves deciduous, alternate, pinnately compound; monoecious, staminate flowers in drooping catkins, pistillate, solitary or in small spikes; pith of twigs chambered in walnuts, solid in hickories; fruit a nut in husk. Walnuts, Hickories.

CORKWOOD FAMILY (Leitneriaceae): leaves deciduous, alternate, simple, hairy below; flowers dioecious, in catkins; fruit dry; wood light; one species, in Southeast. Corkwood.

BIRCH FAMILY (Betulaceae): leaves deciduous, simple, alternate, toothed; monoecious — staminate flowers in catkins, pistillate in catkins, clusters, or spikes; fruit a nutlet or nut, in a conelike strobile, leafy cluster, or husk. Birches, Alders, Hornbeams, Hophornbeams, Hazelnut.

BEECH FAMILY (Fagaceae): leaves mostly deciduous, simple, alternate; staminate and pistillate flowers on same tree — staminate in catkins or heads, pistillate in spikes — or in some genera both sexes in same catkin; fruit a nut or an acorn. Beeches, Chestnuts, Chinkapins, Oaks, Tanoak.

ELM FAMILY (Ulmaceae): leaves deciduous (except in Florida Trema), simple, alternate, toothed; flowers inconspicuous, in greenish clusters; fruit dry, wafer-like (Elms), nutlike (Planertree), or a thin-fleshed drupe (Hackberry, Trema).

MULBERRY FAMILY (Moraceae): leaves simple and alternate, deciduous or evergreen; milky sap; flowers in spikes, heads, or hollow receptacles; multiple fruits in spikes, heads, or fleshy receptacles. Mulberries, Osage-orange, Figs.

OLAX (TALLOWWOOD) FAMILY (Olacaceae): leaves evergreen, simple, alternate; axillary clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers; twigs thorny; fleshy fruit. Tallowwood.

BUCKWHEAT FAMILY (Polygonaceae): low, sprawling shrubs or small trees, largely tropical; leaves leathery, evergreen, alternate, simple, oval to circular, margins smooth; edible, grapelike fruits. Seagrapes.

FOUR-O'CLOCK FAMILY (Nyctaginaceae): largely tropical, with few trees; one tree species in Florida; leaves evergreen, simple, alternate or opposite, margins smooth; small flowers in clusters; fruit a nutlet in a fleshy, ribbed covering. Longleaf Blolly.

MAGNOLIA FAMILY (Magnoliaceae): leaves alternate, simple, entire (Magnolias) or lobed (Yellow-poplar), mostly deciduous; large, showy flowers; conelike, aggregate fruits; stipule scars encircle twigs.

CUSTARD-APPLE (ANNONA) FAMILY (Annonaceae): small trees, largely in southeastern U.S.; leaves simple, alternate, entire; deciduous (Pawpaw) or evergreen (Pondapple); flowers large, solitary, yellow, white, or purple; large, fleshy fruits.

LAUREL FAMILY (Lauraceae): mostly tropical and subtropical trees; leaves evergreen or deciduous, simple, alternate, lobed or unlobed with smooth margins, aromatic; flowers small, greenish yellow or white; fruit one-seeded berry or drupe. Sassafras, California Laurel, Redbay.

WITCH-HAZEL FAMILY (Hamamelidaceae): leaves deciduous, alternate, simple, unlobed or palmately lobed; flowers in clusters or globose heads; fruit a woody capsule borne separately or in burlike heads. Witch-hazel, Sweetgum.

CAPER FAMILY (Capparidaceae): leaves evergreen, alternate, simple, scaly below, smooth margins; flowers, with elongated stamens, in terminal clusters; fruit an elongated berry-like pod; shrubs or small trees of tropics and subtropics. Jamaica Caper.

SYCAMORE FAMILY (Platanaceae): leaves deciduous, alternate, simple, palmately lobed; flowers tiny, in heads; fruit a tight ball of achenes, each with a tuft of hair at its base; buds encircled by leaf scars, stipule scars encircling twigs. Sycamores, Planetrees.

ROSE FAMILY (Rosaceae): a large family of trees, shrubs, herbs; leaves usually alternate, toothed, simple or pinnately compound, deciduous or evergreen; flower parts typically in 5's; fruit a drupe, pome, capsule, achene. Apples, Plums, Cherries Hawthorns, and others.

LEGUME FAMILY (Leguminosae): a large family; leaves alternate, simple, pinnate, or bipinnate; flowers regular or sweetpea-shaped; fruit a legume. Acacias, Redbuds, Locusts, others.

RUE FAMILY (Rutaceae): leaves alternate (opposite in Sea Amyris), pinnately compound, evergreen or deciduous; twigs of some spiny; flowers small, clustered; fruit a capsule, samara, or thin-fleshed drupe. Prickly-ashes and others.

BURSERA FAMILY (Burseraceae): tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs; leaves deciduous, alternate, pinnately compound; flowers in clusters; fruit small, with single seed. Gumbolimbo.

CALTROP FAMILY (Zygophyllaceae): leaves evergreen, opposite, pinnately compound; fruit a capsule; one U.S. species. Lignumvitae.

AILANTHUS (QUASSIA) FAMILY (Simaroubaceae): tropical and subtropical trees; leaves evergreen (deciduous in Ailanthus), alternate, pinnately compound; fruit winged or thin-fleshed. Paradise-tree and others.

MAHOGANY FAMILY (Meliaceae): shrubs and trees of tropics and subtropics; leaves alternate, pinnately compound, evergreen or deciduous. West Indies Mahogany, Chinaberry.

SPURGE FAMILY (Euphorbiaceae): a large family of mainly tropical and subtropical herbs, shrubs, and trees with acrid sap. Few native to U.S.; leaves evergreen or tardily deciduous, simple, alternate; flowers in terminal spikes or axillary clusters; fruit a 3-lobed capsule or fleshy drupe. Oysterwood, Guianaplum, Manchineel.

CASHEW (SUMAC) FAMILY (Anacardiaceae): deciduous or evergreen leaves, alternate, pinnately compound (simple in American Smoketree); flower clusters conspicuous. Sumacs and others.

CYRILLA FAMILY (Cyrillaceae): a small family, with evergreen or tardily deciduous, simple, alternate, smooth-margined leaves; flowers in terminal racemes; fruit a capsule. Swamp Cyrilla, Buckwheat-tree.

HOLLY FAMILY (Aquifoliaceae): leaves alternate, simple, usually evergreen with spiny-toothed (occasionally smooth) margins; mostly dioecious; flowers small, greenish white, in axillary clusters; fruit a red or purple drupe. Hollies.

BITTERSWEET FAMILY (Celastraceae): leaves simple, opposite or alternate (leafless with spiny twigs in Canotia); flowers in stalked, axillary clusters; fruit a dry capsule or a thin-fleshed drupe. Wahoo, Falsebox.

MAPLE FAMILY (Aceraceae): leaves deciduous, opposite, usually simple and palmately lobed (pinnately compound in Boxelder); flowers small, usually polygamous or dioecious, clustered; fruit double-seeded, each seed with propeller-like wing (samara). Maples.

HORSECHESTNUT FAMILY (Hippocastanaceae): leaves deciduous, opposite, palmately compound; showy, tubular flowers in large clusters; fruit a leathery capsule with 1 or 2 large brown seeds. Buckeyes, Horsechestnuts.

PAPAYA FAMILY (Caricaceae): leaves large, alternate, simple, palmately lobed; flowers unisexual, yellowish, clustered (staminate clusters elongated, many-flowered; pistillate short-stemmed, few-flowered); fruit large, fleshy, many-seeded; one N.A. species in Florida. Papaya.

BUCKTHORN FAMILY (Rhamnaceae): leaves simple, alternate or opposite, deciduous or evergreen; small flowers in clusters; fruit drupaceous or capsular. Buckthorns, Ceanothus, Leadwood, and others.

CANELLA (WILD CINNAMON) FAMILY (Canellaceae): leaves evergreen, simple, alternate, smooth margins; small flowers in clusters; fruit a red berry; tropical and subtropical trees, one N.A. species. Canella.

SOAPBERRY FAMILY (Sapindaceae): mainly tropical trees, shrubs, and herbs; leaves mostly evergreen, alternate, pinnately compound; flowers small, clustered; fruit fleshy, with one or many seeds or a 3-valved capsule. Soapberry, Butter-bough, and others.

LINDEN FAMILY (Tiliaceae): leaves deciduous, alternate, simple, toothed, heart-shaped and unequal at base; pale-yellow, fragrant flowers in long-stemmed clusters, attached to a narrow leaflike bract; small, woody, nutlike fruit. Bosswoods or Lindens.

TEA FAMILY (Theaceae): leaves mostly evergreen, alternate, simple, toothed; large, showy flowers; fruit a woody capsule. Loblolly-bay, Mountain Stewartia, Franklinia.

CACTUS FAMILY (Cactaceae): typically no leaves; spiny, fleshy trunks and stems; large, showy flowers; fruit a fleshy berry. Saguaro and other cacti.

MYRTLE FAMILY (Myrtaceae): leaves evergreen, usually opposite, simple, mostly smooth-margined and aromatic; flowers of most species showy; fruit a berry (Cajeput-tree, Guava, Eugenias) or capsule, Eucalyptus.

MANGROVE FAMILY (Rhizophoraceae): leaves evergreen, oval, leathery, opposite, smooth-margined; yellow flowers in clusters; fruit cone-shaped, leathery apex perforated by germinating embryo; roots stiltlike; in brackish coastal waters of tropics and subtropics. Red Mangrove.

COMBRETUM (WHITE-MANGROVE) FAMILY (Combretaceae): leaves evergreen, simple, alternate (opposite in White-mangrove); small flowers in spikes or heads; fruit leathery, one-seeded. Button-mangrove, White-mangrove.

DOGWOOD FAMILY (Cornaceae): leaves deciduous, simple, usually opposite; small, greenish-white flowers in terminal clusters, or in heads surrounded by showy bracts; the fruit is drupaceous. Dogwoods.

TUPELO FAMILY (Nyssaceae): leaves deciduous, simple, alternate; small, greenish flowers in clusters; fruit thin-fleshed, ovoid to oblong, the simple seed ridged or winged. Tupelos.

HEATH FAMILY (Ericaceae): leaves evergreen or deciduous, simple, alternate; flowers usually tubular to urn-shaped, solitary or in clusters; fruit fleshy and one-seeded (drupe), many-seeded (berry), or capsular. Madrones, Rhododendrons, and others.

GINSENG FAMILY (Araliaceae): leaves deciduous, alternate, bipinnately compound, toothed; small flowers in large clusters; fruit berry-like; twigs spiny. Devils-walkingstick.

MELASTOME (MEADOW BEAUTY) FAMILY (Melastomataceae): leaves evergreen, simple, opposite; flowers in clusters; fruit berry-like or capsular; mainly tropical species; rare in N.A. Florida Tetrazygia.

MYRSINE FAMILY (Myrsinaceae): leaves evergreen, simple, alternate, smooth-margined; flowers in clusters, fragrant in Marbleberry; fruit thin-fleshed, one-seeded; mainly tropical, rare in N.A. Guiana Rapanea.

SAPOTE (SAPODILLA) FAMILY (Sapotaceae): tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs; leaves simple, alternate, smooth-margined, evergreen (deciduous in Bumelias); milky sap; inconspicuous flowers in axillary clusters; fruit berry-like. False-mastic, Willow Bustic, Satinleaf, Wild-dilly.

THEOPHRASTA (JOEWOOD) FAMILY (Theophrastaceae): leaves evergreen, alternate, simple, smooth-margined, glandular-dotted; bell-shaped flowers in loose clusters; fruit an orange-red berry; small tropical family. Joewood.

SWEETLEAF FAMILY (Symplocaceae): leaves deciduous, simple, alternate, margins smooth or finely toothed; small flowers in small clusters; fruit thin-fleshed, one-seeded; one N.A. species is limited to South. Common Sweetleaf.

EBONY FAMILY (Ebenaceae): leaves deciduous, simple, alternate, smooth-margined; flowers dioecious (male in loose clusters, female solitary) or polygamous; fruit an orange-red or black edible berry; found mostly in warm climates. Persimmons.

SNOWBELL (STORAX) FAMILY (Styracaceae): southern trees; leaves deciduous, simple, alternate, margins smooth to finely toothed, hairy below; bell-shaped flowers in clusters; fruit single-seeded, ovoid (Bigleaf Snowbell), or elongated and winged (Silverbells).

OLIVE FAMILY (Oleaceae): leaves mostly deciduous, opposite, simple or, in ashes, pinnately compound; flowers perfect, dioecious or polygamous; fruit a dry, single-winged samara, or single-seeded, fleshy. Ashes and others.

BORAGE FAMILY (Boraginaceae): leaves evergreen or tardily deciduous, alternate, simple, margins smooth or toothed; showy flowers in clusters; fruit single-seeded and thin-fleshed; mostly herbs. Bahama Strongbark, Geiger-tree, Anaqua.

VERBENA FAMILY (Verbenaceae): leaves simple, opposite, entire, evergreen; flowers in clusters, fragrant in Fiddlewood; fruit a drupe or capsule; mainly herbs. Black-mangrove.

NIGHTSHADE FAMILY (Solanaceae): mostly herbs, a few trees; leaves of single native species (Florida) evergreen, simple, alternate, hairy, smooth-margined; flowers in clusters; fruit berrylike. Mullein Nightshade.

BIGNONIA (TRUMPET CREEPER) FAMILY (Bignoniaceae): leaves simple, mostly deciduous, opposite and whorled, or alternate; large flowers in showy clusters or solitary; fruit an elongated or ovoid capsule or berry; mostly tropical trees, shrubs, vines, herbs. Catalpa, Black-Calabash, Desertwillow.

HONEYSUCKLE FAMILY (Caprifoliaceae): leaves deciduous, opposite, simple or pinnately compound; flowers in showy clusters; fruits drupaceous; mainly shrubs and herbs of temperate regions, a few trees. Elders, Viburnums.


Excerpted from Trees of North America by C. Frank Brockman, Rebecca Merrilees. Copyright © 2002 St. Martin's Press. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Revised and Updated 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is resourceful, intellegent, and useful. If you ever have to write a report on leaves this is the book for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello and welcome to Treeclan! I am Featherstar, leader of this fine clan. If you're reading this, I'm guessing you have decided to investigate my clan a bit. Treeclan is a very welcoming and young clan, but ready for anything. Treeclan cats excell at climbing and flying through treetops by bounding from limb to limb. Whic maked them great at hiding and ambushing from the trees. Treeclan takes pride in all its warriors, future and past. The territory is a large range of trees, closely grown together. This makes it difficult for other clans to attack, but our warriors can easily weave through them on the ground. There is a large creek at the end of our territory, where voles, mice and rabbits live in the thick brush along its edge. Squirrels and brids also play happily in the tree, making good prey. Our camp is located in the middle of the forest, covered by thick trees and surrounded by dead fall. We nest in many of the dead logs surrounding the camp, the elders and queens being in the two largest on the north side. A large stump in the middle of camp that is hallow at the base makes for the place of meeting and where I, the leader, nest. A small drinking stream runs through the middle of camp, no more than half a tail wide and deep. A small log over it allows for easy acess over. For our medicen cat, a large tree with gnarled roots and a large hallow den is where they stay. There is plenty of room to sgore herbs and care for sick cats. Herbs are also abundent in the forest. As for rules: Please be active. Respect others! No overally foul language. Possitions needed: Deputy (apply at result 2) Medicen Cat (apply at result 2) Warriors, Queens, Apprentices and Kits (bios at result 3) Map: Bios: 3 Camp: 4 Training Hallow: 5 Forest: 6 Creek: 7 Ask to join and than submit your bios! ~Featherstar