having trouble telling the difference between choke cherry and pin cherry , also can't tell the difference between "maple" and
sugar maple , red maple etc. maple trees look so different in other states but still are maples , sugar maples or black maples --- anyone else have trouble with these ? there are huge maples in western Michigan
that may be sugar maples or "just" maples ? In Wisconsin the maple trees look much different
Here's my philosophy- "Just' maple could suffice in conversation, it seems to me. If you are casually interested, knowing how to tell 'a maple' from 'a cherry' ought to be enough, and acknowledging that there are some challenges in knowing exact species of some trees or in some cases.
"It's a cherry, so it will have noticeable spring flowers and fruit that birds like." "It's a maple, gets those whirlybird seeds, and may turn a nice color in fall" A field guide can be helpful, especially if you have a hint to get you started. (''I know it's a maple but which kind?'' Read descriptions, look at pictures and rule out those that don't match) But if you are intent on being able to figure out species, seems to me you just have to learn some plant parts and how to use a key.
thanks sallyg , another one is elm , some i think are american elm but others may also be slippery elm or another
elm , hats off to botanists -- hawthorn is another -- ok we can call them hawthorn for short
Item # 2569. $ 3.00 last time I looked. The National Arbor Day Foundation. 402-474-5655 or their web site of course. What Tree is That? A guide to the more common trees found in the Eastern and Central U.S. 70 page booklet. Arranged like a giant flow chart. Must have for those needing to ID trees.
Learning to identify plants (at least, for me - woody plants) can be one of the most satisfying things to accomplish. Knowing what the various parts are called is the first step, and then just spending a lot of time looking at the plants is what will get you to the level you'd like to reach.
Collect plant parts, when you don't recognize something. Have something like a photo album, road atlas, or some other book-like object to place the plant parts in to flatten/preserve them (rather than drying up sitting on the dashboard, or crushed underfoot on the floorboard). Small plastic bags work for fruit/seed that are less adaptable to pressing.
Start acquiring a few texts, with drawings (or images) of plants and extensive descriptions of plant parts. Any of Dirr's (5 or 6 editions) Manual of Woody Landscape Plants will suffice. The front sections showing leaf shapes, flower types, etc. is the most valuable part that so many users never look at. That's my favorite text, since 99% of his experience/opinion is based in climates closely related to my own. There are certainly many more that you could find useful, but look for this kind of information.
As for one of your questions: maples, the genus Acer. Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Norway Maple, Silver Maple, and Manitoba (Boxelder) Maple are likely 90% or more of this genus that you will be observing. There are some simple diagnostics that you can use to separate these plants.
To me, learning to ID a woody plant when dormant is most valuable. Those parts are pretty much always on the plant - except dormant buds when the plant is just breaking bud/leafing out.
Sugar Maple has pointy brown buds. Red Maple has reddish/orangish small rounded buds (can be confused with Silver Maple). Norway Maple has greenish/purplish fat rounded buds. Manitoba Maple has such greenish young stems, I can hardly remember what the buds look like since the stems separate that for me.
That's how I've learned the difference between maples over the years. I am not a classically trained horticulturist/botanist/etc. I went through college first in metallurgical engineering, then had a horticultural career with on the job learning, extensive conference attendance, obsessive reading, and travel to plant collections and nurseries to immerse myself in the subject. Having a patient understanding spouse didn't hurt.
thanks for the warm reply. the maples in different areas still stumps me (pun intended ? ) there are huge maples in
western michigan but what kind of maples? ( i suspect they are sugar maples or black maples ? ) maybe trees
are like humans , we like to identify ourselves as anything but a melting pot . Many white oaks are hybrids, like
those of bur and alba , with some others with bicolor too