Need help identifying 3 tree branches from the Southeastern Minnesota region.
May 24, 2008 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Need help identifying 3 tree branches from the Southeastern Minnesota region.

I recently came back from the local zoo here in southern MN with some branches in tow for nature studies fun. However, in my research of what they were, 3 seemed to be giving me a little trouble. I have taken photos of the branches in their length and a closeup of each of their leaf clippings for examples.

The first I believe to be a Northern White Cedar and I just need a rousing yay to be sure I am correct on it.

Cedar Closeup

The second is giving me some hard time, but I am pretty sure it is a spruce, just stuck on what kind exactly, like Black, Norway, White, Sitka, or Eastern.

Spruce Closeup

The third is the crowning jewel of confusion. I am not sure if I accidentally grabbed a leaf from too low on this still young branch, but I am thinking I have it narrowed to a Maple tree, just not sure what kind. Some back details for you is that the tree itself was not large, maybe about 10 feet tall and acting as a decorative tree lining on the sidewalk to the zoo. None of the leaves on the rest of the tree were glossy/waxy looking, just rather plain green with a minor bit of shine. Leaves on the rest of the tree were soft and moving, not stiff, and none that I remember were any bigger than maybe a dollar bill.

Maple Wannabe
Maple Wannabe Closeup

As a note, I have contacted the zoo itself, but they don't offer me a lot of help. I am starting to wonder if I need to make a second trip to the zoo.
posted by LittleNami to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
Ok, the first one is definitely cedar. Whether or not it's "Northern White Cedar," I can't say. Spruce - yup. Maple - yup (maybe Japanese maple? it's usually used as a small, decorative tree).

Next time try to get a picture of the actual tree. Being able to see the distribution of branches and the height of the tree really helps when trying to distinguish trees within a particular family (oaks, for example).
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:43 PM on May 24, 2008

Need more data points on the maple. That toothed leaf means it could be Red Maple or Mountain Maple; but as a decorative planting it could be an imported variety also.
posted by beagle at 5:18 AM on May 25, 2008

The "maple" looks more like ninebark or some other Rosaceae.
posted by driveler at 7:18 AM on May 25, 2008

As driveler said, the maple doesn't look very maplish. Perhaps a ninebark or hathorne...
posted by buttercup at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2008

It does sort of look like ninebark, but it would really help to have a branchlet showing the arrangement of leaves, young leaves vs. old, &c. It's hard to tell if this is a juvenile leaf or full grown.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:25 AM on May 25, 2008

Yay, you guys are throwing out some very good ideas here. Ninebark is fairly common in decorative uses around here, actually, so that one is a possibility. However, I am a little surprised because I always assumed Ninebark was a shrub only, but I guess this could have easily been an older specimen, hence the size. I wish I could show the picture of the leaf formation, but it wilted far too quickly with the recent heatwave, so a description will hopefully suffice.

One small branch would shoot forth from the main growing branch. Leaves would be erupting from the tip, older o the outside and younger to the inside, in a mass. There was no alternative leaves or compound necessarily, just a heap of them on the end of the smaller branch from the larger main one.

I am thinking that I might go back to the zoo sometime soon to get pictures of the trees themselves and hopefully that will put everything to rest, but I just don't know when I will have time to go again.
posted by LittleNami at 10:58 AM on May 25, 2008

Ok, I have an update for everyone. Was able to get back to the zoo yesterday and took some photos of the trees themselves. Maybe now we can finish this one off ^^

Wannabe Maple Pictures
Mystery Tree
Mystery Tree 2

Cedar Tree
Cedar Branch

Spruce Tree
Spruce Branch
Spruce Cones Growing

Hope this helps ^^
posted by LittleNami at 9:02 AM on May 27, 2008

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