Now this here is a tree… a Black Walnut tree that is, scientifically know as Juglans nigra. Leaves have a diamond pattern and are found with anywhere from 7-17 narrow and slightly toothed leaflets. As the tree gets older the bark of this species tends to look more burnt. This tree was found along the Olentangy trail right off of Tuttle park. This tree is not only gorgeous but also extremely useful. The fruits of this tree are a great snack not only for squirrels but also humans. Additionally, black walnut trees are some of the most valuable trees for the timber trade.
The Red Mulberry or Morus rubra is an invasive species that is native in China. This species has cordate shaped leaved that are toothed and are simple and alternate. This particular Red Mulberry was found growing right next to the bike path on the Olentangy trail. This tree fruits in June-July and produces berries that taste very similar to blackberries.
Acer saccarinum also known as the Silver Maple is distinguishable from its other maple cousins through its lobes. Silver maple leave lobes start out as a U and then beeline into a V at the very end. Leaves of this tree are opposite and simple. This Silver Maple grows on the North edge of Tuttle Park, amazingly this maple also has sweet sap, but not as sweet as its close sugary relative.
Quercus rubra aka the Red Oak has leaves that hairless and lobed with bristle tips. These leaves are simple and occur alternately on a branch. Native Americans used to eat Red Oak acorns after removing the acids by bathing and grinding the nuts in hot water. This Red Oak was found right next to the afore mentioned silver maple, acorn pancakes and syrup anyone?
This is a gorgeous Sycamore found right on the riverbank. In the above picture it almost looks like she is stooping her branches in to take a sip of some refreshing, almost clean enough to be bottled, Olentangy River water. The mottled peeling bark of Sycamores or Platanus occidentalis is a very unique and recognizable feature of these water loving giants. Leaves of sycamores can be described as alternate and simple and are generally lobed 3 to 5 times with have large teeth. Amazingly, the largest Sycamores are actually found right here in Ohio in the Ohio River Basin.
Cardya cordiformes or Bitternut Hickory has compound leaves with very fine ceration. Leaves can have anywhere from 5-11 leaflets (the most common being 7-9). The bark of this tree is tightly interwoven and ridged with smooth tops. The tell identification feature for this particular tree was its fruit. Bitternut Hickory shells are thin with ridges on the ends. Inside of these shells the nuts are cylindrical and very bitter (hence the name) but also edible! This Bitternut Hickory was discovered along the Olentangy River.
This tree is commonly known as the Common Catalpa or Catalpa bignonioides. Catalpa trees are identified through their large heart shaped leaves that are untoothed. This particular Common Catalpa was easily identifiable through its ‘cigar shaped’ beans. Leaves of this species generally tend to be paired or in whorls of 3. This beauty was photographed at the intersection of E Dodridge St in someone’s front yard. and Findley Ave. Catalpa trees should be a fisherman/woman’s favorite species because they are a great place to find ‘catawba worms’ which are widely known as fantastic bait.
Aesculus glabra is the most famous tree in all of Ohio, and is also known as the Ohio Buckeye. However I would guess that even with its popularity few Ohio State football fans would be able to actually identify this tree. This tree has opposite fan-compound leaves, generally with 5 leaflets. The fruit husks of this tree have thorns that are easily broken off. Interestingly, Ohio State grandmas have been known to mistake marijuana leaves for buckeye leaves and buy their grandchildren ‘Ohio State Gear’ in random states like Colorado. This particular Ohio Buckeye tree actually grows in my backyard here in Columbus.
The Peterson Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs (2nd Ed.) by George A. Petrides, published by Houghton Mifflin Company