Can You Identify These Trees by Their Leaves?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Estimated Completion Time
6 min
Can You Identify These Trees by Their Leaves?
Image: tihomir_todorov / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Tree huggers unite! If either dendrology or plant morphology is your thing, then you'll definitely be barking up the right tree with this quiz!

One of the most important functions of leaves is as a primary site of photosynthesis—where the vast majority of food chains start. Another of the valuable jobs leaves perform is preventing soil erosion by slowing down raindrops before they hit the ground.

From an aesthetic point of view, leaves add beauty to the landscape, whether they are in shades of green or an array of rich autumn colors. Those colors can act as identifiers for some trees whose leaves blend into the greenery around them for most of the year and then change to eye-catching hues of red, yellow, purple and brown for the fall season.

Leaves also come in a wide range of shapes and textures, including broad, flat, smooth, bumpy, curly, spiky and, of course, the characteristic needles of conifers. There are examples of all of these in the quiz - get started and see if you can spot them!

It's time to go leafing through your knowledge of trees with this awesome leaf identification quiz. Take the challenge and see how many of these trees you can name from their leaves. Get started!

Giant sequoia This tree earns its name by being the most massive living thing on Earth, by volume. Do you recognize its leaves?
Ponderosa pine
Blue palo verde
Sassafras
Giant sequoia
Also known as Sierra redwood and giant redwood, giant sequoia are superlative in almost every way! They have the thickest bark and limbs of all tree species, as well as the most voluminous trunks. Giant sequoia are also among the world's oldest trees.

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American beech Despite its name, this tree doesn't grow on the seashore—it's more a forest dweller. Can you identify it?
Red pine
American beech
This hardwood tree can grow up to 100 feet tall in its natural habitat but tends to only reach half that size in home landscapes. Its wood is often used for making wear-resistant flooring and furniture. Plus, it's a great choice for making food containers, since it has no taste or smell.
Green ash
Single-leaf python

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Red maple Can you name this "sappy" tree whose leaves can also turn yellow or orange, in addition to its namesake color?
Water tupelo
Great Basin bristlecone pine
Red maple
The red maple or scarlet maple is well-known for its brilliantly colored leaves which stand out in the autumn landscape. Lesser known is the fact that maple syrup can be harvested from this variety of maple. Growers have to be quick about it, however, since the sap turns unpalatable early in the season.
American sycamore

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Yellow birch This native of northeastern North America is named for the golden color of its bark. Do you know which tree it is?
Pinon pine
Hackberry
Yellow birch
This tree's leaves change to bright yellow in autumn, but it's the color of the bark which gives the yellow birch its name. Thin curls of silvery yellow bark decorate the tree for most of its life, while the more mature trunks take on a red-brown or bronze color instead.
Flame tree

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Flowering dogwood It doesn't bite, but this tree's bark and tons of showy blossoms will certainly grab your attention. Which of these is it?
Red alder
Silk-cotton tree
Yellow elder
Flowering dogwood
The flowering dogwood is a popular ornamental plant which can live up to 80 years in the right climate. It blooms continuously for approximately 3 weeks with the most common color of the flowers on wild trees being white. Cultivated trees have flowers of pink or red.

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Southern magnolia You would be headed in the right direction if your journeyed to Mississippi to find this tree. Do you know it?
Sweetgum
Southern magnolia
The beautiful southern magnolia is the state tree of Mississippi. Its scientific name is magnolia grandiflora, referring to its large flowers which can grow to be as much as 12 inches across. These showy white flowers have a rich, pleasant, lemony scent.
Sourwood
Melba apple

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Eastern black oak This tree's bark is dark on the outside and orange-yellow on the inside but do you recognize it from its leaves?
Paulownia
Sweet orange
American holly
Eastern black oak
The eastern black oak has antiseptic properties and was used by some Native American tribes to treat fever, sore eyes and indigestion, among other ailments. It is used to make yellow dye and its hard, coarse-grained wood gets turned into construction lumber and fence posts.

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California redwood Along with the giant sequoia, this tree serves as the official tree of a US state. Do you know its name?
California redwood
The California or coast redwood is noted for being the tallest tree species in the world. In fact, the tallest single living tree in the world is a California redwood named Hyperion in Redwood National Park. The California redwood is also among the longest-living trees.
Black cottonwood
Shagbark hickory
Pin oak

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Quaking aspen The gentlest of breezes will cause these leaves to tremble—hence the name of the tree. Do you know it?
Boxelder maple
Western hemlock
Quaking aspen
This distinctive tree in known as the trembling aspen or quaking aspen in reference to the easy movement (and accompanying rustling) of its lightweight, shiny, green leaves. Thanks to those leaves changing to brilliant yellow in the fall, the tree is also called golden aspen.
Shellbark hickory

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Black cherry The bitter fruit of this tree is used to make wine and jelly. Do you recognize its leaves?
Pandanus
Eastern cottonwood
Black cherry
Black cherry wood is used to make a variety of items, including toys, paneling and specific instruments. It can also add a mildly sweet but distinctive flavor to meats being smoked or barbecued. Most importantly, it is highly prized by carpenters for furniture and cabinet-making.
Single-leaf pinyon

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Northern red oak These leaves belong to New Jersey's state tree which is named for its eye-catching fall colors. Can you name it?
Northern red oak
The large leaves of the northern red oak (or champion oak) change to a splendid red color in fall, making the tree a popular choice as an ornamental plant. Thanks to its superior quality, the northern red oak is also widely used for lumber.
Longleaf pine
Eureka lemon
Black locust

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Osage orange This tree goes by two fruity names, one of which is the hedge apple. Can you spot the other one?
Overcup oak
Osage orange
Despite its common names, this tree is neither an apple nor an orange. It is, in fact, a species of mulberry. The bumpy yellow-green fruit is unpalatable and generally considered to be inedible. This tree makes an effective hedging plant, however, due to its many spines.
Cucumber magnolia
Eastern white pine

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Colorado blue spruce You can tell by its name that this tree holds a place of honor in one US state. Do you recognize its leaves?
Bigleaf maple
Water oak
Colorado blue spruce
The Colorado blue spruce (or simply blue spruce) gets its name from the bluish waxy powder coating its needles. This member of the pine family can grow up to 75 feet tall. Its height, combined with its near-perfect symmetry and characteristic color, makes it quite a distinctive-looking tree.
Paper birch

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Sabal palm Can you name this beach-loving relative of the coconut just by looking at its fan-shaped leaves?
Sabal palm
The sabal palm is also known as the cabbage palm but you would have to look closely to see why. Its heart or terminal bud (at the top of the plant where new growth takes place) is, in fact, shaped like a cabbage. The sabal palm was chosen as the state tree of both Florida and South Carolina.
Bur oak
Silver maple
Black willow

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American elm These leaves are from a once common tree which bears the name of a continent. Can you spot it?
Yellow poplar
Live oak
Pignut hickory
American elm
The American elm has suffered catastrophic levels of die-off due to a fungal infection known as Dutch elm disease which first arrived in the US in 1928. Very few of the trees are resistant to or tolerant of the disease which is spread by a type of bark beetle.

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Western redbud These leaves are from a tree named both for its location and beautiful branches. Do you know it?
American basswood
Sugar maple
Laurel oak
Western redbud
The Western redbud is a small tree which only grows to about 20 feet high but is quite impressive when in bloom. It has showy flowers which range in color from pink to purple on a single plant. Its wine-red young branches are prized among the Native American basket weavers of California.

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Oregon white oak Despite its name, it's not the state's official tree—the Douglas fir is. Do you recognize this tree from its leaves?
Rock elm
Oregon white oak
The Oregon white oak (or Garry oak) is a member of the beech family. Its appearance varies according to growing conditions, ranging from a solitary tree up to 80 feet tall with widespread branches, to a grove of trees forming a canopy, or a low shrub.
Bitternut hickory
Candlenut tree

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Pecan Can you identify this plant from the hickory family whose nuts make a delicious holiday pie?
Bigleaf maple
Bald cypress
White ash
Pecan
The frond-like compound leaves of the pecan tree often get up to 20 inches long. This large tree can grow as much as 160 feet tall with branches spread as wide as 75 feet. The massive tree gets plenty of support from its trunk which can measure up to 6.5 feet across.

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Common persimmon This plant's name hints at the fact that it has quite a wide range. Can you identify it from its leaves?
Tulip tree
Common persimmon
The common persimmon is also known as the American persimmon and possum apple for the location it is native to and for the animals which love to eat its fruit. Its scientific name, Diospyros virginiana, hints at how delicious these fruits are—diospyros means "food of the gods."
Balsam poplar
Chrrybark oak

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Black walnut Most parts of this tree, including its leaves, have a characteristic spicy scent. Do you know its name?
Black walnut
The nut of the black walnut tree is noted for its superior taste when compared to other walnuts. Removing the nuts from their tough shells, however, is a difficult job. Plus, the brown-black dye contained in the shells is notorious for leaving your hands stained days after handling them.
Douglas-fir
Nuttall oak
Sweet orange

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Sassafras It is not uncommon for this tree to have three types of leaves but can you identify it from the ones shown here?
Mockernut hickory
Sassafras
Sassafras was once widely used for making root beer but has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration for use in mass-produced foods since 1960. Many persons still use it as a flavoring to add a distinctive, strong lemon or fennel-like scent to foods and drinks.
Live oak
Flowering dogwood

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Sourwood Although the bright red fall foliage on this tree is a sweet treat for the eyes, its name says otherwise. Can you identify the tree?
Sourwood
Sourwood is an ornamental tree from the heather family. It thrives best when planted in full sunlight and makes quite an autumn spectacle when its leaves change from rich green to brilliant red. The acidic-tasting leaves of the sourwood tree can be used a laxative.
Pin oak
American beech
Southern magnolia

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Green ash Do you know this popular tree's name? Hint: it sometimes gets referred to be a different (contrasting) color.
Green ash
The green ash or red ash is a common tree throughout most of Canada and the United States. It thrives in open woodland and ravines as well as in wetter areas such as swamps. The green ash can also be found in urban areas where it is often planted as a shade tree.
Bitternut hickory
Ponderosa pine
Eureka lemon

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American holly Can you name this tree whose spiky leaves and scarlet berries are closely associated with the Christmas holiday season?
Silver maple
American holly
Along with its spiky leaves, the American holly's bright red berries are on of its most distinguishing features. There are some varieties of the tree, however, which bear yellow fruit, instead. Apart from its association with Christmas, holly was also revered by the Druids and Romans.
Yellow birch
Shellbark hickory

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Red alder These leaves are from a tree whose bark develops a "bloody" color when scraped or bruised. Can you name it?
Yellow elder
Loblolly pine
Red alder
The red alder tree does not actually bleed, but its bark will turn a bright rusty red color if scraped. Scientists often use the red alder as a way to monitor ozone pollution since its leaves develop red, purple or brown spots when exposed to excess ozone.
Eastern black oak

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Black locust This tree gets its name from its edible pods which resemble large grasshoppers. Do you recognize its leaves?
Red maple
Red pine
River birch
Black locust
Humans and the black locust have a love-hate relationship. The tree is considered an invasive species with the potential to turn grasslands into forests. Its abundant, creamy white and sweetly scented flowers make it a popular choice as an ornamental plant.

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Paulownia Can you identify this Chinese native which also goes by the names princess tree and empress tree?
Flame tree
Cucumber magnolia
Southern red oak
Paulownia
The paulownia grows fast in almost any type of soil, adding up to three feet to its height each year, It is fancied for its habit of being heavy-laden with beautiful trumpet-shaped, vanilla-scented, lavender flowers.

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Sweetgum These leaves are from a plant whose syrupy name refers to the fragrant resin it produces. Do you know the tree's name?
Sweetgum
The sweetgum tree is a popular ornamental plant since its glossy green leaves change to bright red, yellow and purple shades in autumn. Its flowers are much less showy and usually do not appear until the tree is about 15 to 20 years old. The sweetgum tree can live up to 400 years.
Rock elm
Black cherry
California redwood

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American sycamore Do you recognize the leaves of this tree which is also known as the buttonwood or plane tree?
Hackberry
Quaking aspen
American sycamore
The American sycamore has several easily recognizable features. For starters, its flaky mottled bark falls off to expose a smooth patchy surface colored in green, white, brown and gray. It also has spiky, fuzzy, golf ball-sized seed clusters which dangle from the tree well into winter.
River birch

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Water tupelo Can you name this plant which flourishes in aquatic environments such as swamps?
Water tupelo
The water tupelo belongs to the sour gum family. It is often found growing in swampy areas where its swollen base is visible just above the water's surface. The wood of the water tupelo ranges in color from light brown to pale yellow and is a particular favorite of carvers.
Giant sequoia
Black cottonwood
Cherrybark oak

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Black willow It may not be the "weeping" variety but can you still name this tree by looking at its leaves?
Western hemlock
Black willow
The black willow is among the three largest trees of the willow species. It grows to about 65 feet tall and can be found in various environments in cooler regions. Its light, flexible bark was once the preferred choice for making prosthetic limbs.
Pecan
Black walnut

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Pinyon pine Can you name this drought-resistant nut-bearer just by looking at its needles?
Black hickory
Bur oak
Pinyon pine
The pinyon pine or nut pine is one of the most common pine trees in North America. Its small rose-shaped cones are quite decorative but most persons are only interested in the tree's pine nuts. They are highly nutritious and are noted as an excellent source of iron and healthy fats.
Yellow poplar

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Longleaf pine It you recognize these lengthy needles then you probably know they belong to Alabama's state tree. Can you name the tree?
Longleaf pine
As its name suggests, the longleaf pine is distinguished by its very long needles which can grow to up to 18 inches long. As for the tree, it can reach heights of over 100 feet with a trunk more than 3 feet wide.
Western redbud
Slippery elm
Eastern cottonwood

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Sitka spruce It's quite likely you have heard of the Alaskan city after which this evergreen in named. Do you know what tree it is?
Black tupelo
Paper birch
Sitka spruce
The Sitka spruce can grow to around 300 feet tall, making it a dominant presence in forests. Its wood is prized by luthiers (makers of stringed instruments) as an excellent tonewood for making guitars, violins and harps. The towering Sitka spruce is Alaska's state tree.
Southern red oak

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Tulip tree This member of the magnolia family goes by several names, one of which refers to its showy flowers. Can you spot it?
Boxelder maple
Osage orange
Tulip tree
Tulip trees have bright green leaves which change to bright yellow once autumn comes around. The trees typically do not flower until they are about 15 years old but once they start, viewers are treated to large, beautiful tulip-like flowers for the next 200 years - give or take a few years!
Oregon white oak

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Candlenut tree The leaves of Hawaii's state tree are shown here. Its native name is kukui but do you know its other name?
American elm
Candlenut tree
The oil-rich nut of the candlenut tree was traditionally burnt as a source of light by early Hawaiians. The nuts are also eaten in various dishes throughout the countries of the region. The candlenut's nuts and flowers are also often used among the material making up the Hawaiian lei.
Pignut hickory
Pandanus

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Bald cypress This plant sheds its flat needle-like leaves very early in the season—hence its name. Do you know what it is?
White ash
Northern red oak
Silk-cotton tree
Bald cypress
Old bald cypress trees tend to be hollow, making it difficult to determine their age. One thing, however, is for certain: these trees can live for well over 600 years with one of the oldest bald cypress trees (located in North Carolina) being estimated at around 1. 600 years old!

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Eastern white pine Five blue-green needles to a bundle is the distinguishing feature of which of these trees?
Sabal palm
Balsam poplar
Eastern white pine
Among the Native American Iroquois, the eastern white pine is known as the Tree of Peace. It is historically held to be symbolic of the declaration of peace among the different groups making up the Iroquois Nation. The eastern white pine also serves as the state tree of both Maine and Michigan.
Melba apple

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American basswood This tree takes the name of the entire continent it is native to. Can you name it?
Common persimmon
Nuttall oak
American basswood
American basswood, American linden and American whitewood are some to the names given to this fast-growing tree. Its leaves are typically cordate (heart-shaped) or ovate (oval-shaped) and grow to between 6 and 10 inches long. They turn yellow or tan in the fall.
Sugar maple

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Douglas-fir Do you recognize the needles of this evergreen which is often used during the holidays as a Christmas tree?
Colorado blue spruce
Douglas fir
The Douglas fir is put to several other uses apart for being decorated at Christmastime. It is planted in various landscapes as a year-round ornamental tree and its strong wood, which is classified a softwood lumber, is used in building construction and boat-building.
Shagbark hickory
Blue palo verde

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