Lowland Puget Sound Deciduous Winter ID – A Living Field Guide
photos and writing by ria
*to receive a copy of the field guide with macrophotos, email ecofeminist (@) riseup (.) net
self-published in Cascadia
To support efforts undoing what’s been done, and creating what will be.
This is a living document by and for the people who care for western Cascadia lowland forests. This is not an inclusive listing, and plants vary with factors, such as age. Hint: Look for evidence of remnant leaves, etc. on the plant and on the ground. And consider environmental conditions, and the plant community.
Alternate Buds – Buds singular at each node.
Angled Twig – With sharp or soft edges.
Appressed Bud– Bud flat along stem.
Bloom– Thin, powdery wax coating that can wipe off.
Bud – Primordial state of a shoot or flower.
Bud Scale – Modified leaf enclosing and protecting a bud.
Bud Scale Scar – Mark remaining on a stem after bud scales shed.
Bundle Scar – Mark within leaf scar of vascular tissue after leaf shed.
Cane – A stem arising straight from the ground and generally arching.
Catkin – Slender, long, hanging male organ containing pollen, as on Alder, Birch, Hazlenut and Willow.
Chambered Pith – Divided into sections with thin layers of tissue.
Deciduous – Plants that shed leaves before winter dormancy.
Diverging Bud – Bud slanting away from stem.
Flattened Twig – Stem with rounded area that becomes level.
Flush Lenticels – Lenticels level with bark.
Hairy – Having fine hair or down on buds, twigs or leaf scars.
Hip – Rose fruit.
Lateral Bud – Bud on the side of a stem.
Leaf Bundle Scar – Marks of vascular leaf bundles within the leaf scar.
Leaf Scar – Mark remaining on a stem after leaf fall.
Lenticels –Corky flat or raised pores for aeration on bark surface.
Membrane – Thin, often translucent, protective sheath.
Node – Place on stem where a bud originates.
Opposite Buds – Buds paired on opposite sides at each node.
Petiole – Leaf blade stalk.
Pith – Stem core.
Prickle – Sharp, pointed bark outgrowth, such as with roses or devil’s club.
Raised Lenticels – Lenticels rising above bark.
Ribbed Twig – With prominent, vertical lines.
Samara – Seeds or fruit covered by thin, expanded, membranous tissue – single as in Ash, double as in Maple.
Sepals – Outer structure that remains after fruit maturity.
Shrub – Mostly multi-trunked plant mostly smaller than a tree.
Slender Twig – Thinner than a pencil.
Spine – Stiff, sharp, modified leaf outgrowth, such as at the nodes of gooseberry.
Spur – Stunted stem often ringed with bud scale scars and often with terminal bud, such as crabapple.
Stalked Bud – Bud supported by very short stem.
Stout Twig– Thicker than a pencil.
Sub-Opposite Buds– Buds almost opposite, but not precisely.
Terminal Bud – Bud at the end of a twig.
Thorn – Woody, stiff, sharp modified stem outgrowth, such as with hawthorn
Tree – Mostly single-trunked plant mostly larger than a shrub.
Twig – Last year’s branch growth.
Vine – A plant that crawls or climbs for structural support.
Valvate Bud Scales – Scales meet at edges without overlapping.
Whorled – Circularly positioned around stem.
Zigzag Twig – Twig ends that angle back and forth at nodes
1a Climbing or creeping vine
2a Alternate buds; no bud scales
Poison Oak Toxicodendron diversilobum (14)
2b Opposite buds; twines clockwise; hollow twigs
Orange Honeysuckle Lonicera ciliosa (12)
2c Opposite buds; deeply ribbed; swollen nodes
*Old Man’s Beard Clematis vitalba (22)
1b Shrub or Tree
3a Sub-opposite twig buds; one bud scale
*Purple Osier Willow Salix purpurea (22)
3b Opposite buds / leaf scars
4a Lateral buds distinctly < ¼”
5a Soft, slender branches
6a Stout, sharply angled twigs
*Butterfly Bush Buddleja davidii (20)
6b Slender twigs, flattened at nodes
7aTerminal bud larger than lateral buds
Mock Orange Philadelphus lewisii (11)
7b Lateral buds larger than terminal bud
Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus (18)
5b Hard branches
8a Two bud scales
Douglas Maple Acer glabrum (8)
8b Three or more bud scales
9a Often 2 small end buds, rarely 1 or 3
Vine Maple Acer circinaturm (19)
9b ~ ½” terminal bud; milky stems
*Norway Maple Acer platanoides (21)
4b Lateral buds ~ ¼”
10a No bud scales; ribbed twig
Red-Osier Dogwood Cornus sericea (16)
10b One pair valvate bud scales; 5-6 angled twig
Highbush Cranberry Viburnum edule (10)
10c Two pairs valvate bud scales- 1 inner, 1 outer
Pacific Dogwood Cornus nuttallii (13)
10d 2 pair visible shingled bud scales; 4 angled twig
Black Twinberry Lonicera involucrate (6)
10e Four pairs shingled bud scales; flattened nodes
Oregon Ash Fraxinus latifolia (12)
4c Lateral buds distinctly >¼”
11a Large, sticky terminal bud; 14 bud scales.
*Horese Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum (20)
11b Parallel lateral buds; terminal bud often absent
Red Elderberry Sambucus racemosa (15)
4d Lateral buds greatly increase in size up twig
Big Leaf Maple Acer macrophyllum (5)
3c Alternate buds / leaf scars
13a Straight and flattened, curved prickles
14a Arching whitish canes with bluish bloom
Blackcap Rubus leucodermis (7)
14b Prickle pairs up to 1.5” beneath nodes
Nootka Rose Rosa nutkana (11)
14c Prickle pairs up to .5” beneath nodes
Clustered Rose Rosa pisocarpa (8)
13b Needle-like prickles, no other arms
15a Numerous ½” prickles; single stalk
Devil’s Club Oplopanax horridus (8)
15b Many 1/8” prickles; some stalks unarmed
Baldhip Rose Rosa gymnocarpa (4)
15c Subtle prickles, more at base; zigzag twig.
Salmonberry Rubus spectabilis (17)
13c Needle-like prickles, 1-7 longer spines at nodes
Black Gooseberry Ribes lacustre (6)
13d Woody, single, sharp thorns; spurs
16a Sparse thorns to 1.5”; red twigs zigzag
Black Hawthorn Crataegus douglasii (6)
16b Thorns to 1” along lateral buds on gray twigs.
*Eutopean Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna (20)
17a No buds or no bud scales
18a Bamboo-like dead canes; zigzag twigs.
*Japanese Knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum (21)
18b Ribbed twigs; numerous lenticels; hairy buds
Poison Oak Toxicodendron diversilobum (14)
18c Angel wing-like exposed velvety leaf buds.
Cascara Frangula purshiana (7)
17b One bud scale covering fuzzy bud
19a Broad, bushy form
Hooker’s Willow Salix hookeriana (10)
19b Rounded tree
Scouler’s Willow Salix scouleriana (17)
19c Twigs generally not hairy; tallest willow
*Pacific Willow Salix lucida var. lasiandra (14)
17c Two distinct outer bud scales; 1 bundle scar
20a Rosy buds; green, angled, zigzag twigs.
Red Huckleberry Vaccinium parvifolium (16)
20b Rosy round buds; 5-angled straight twigs
Oval-Leaf Blueberry Vaccinium ovalifolium (12)
17d Three or more bud scales
21a One leaf bundle scar
22a Raised, small, triangular leaf scar.
Hardhack Spiraea douglasii (9)
22b Faintly lined beneath shield-shaped leaf scar
False Azalea Menziesia ferruginea (9)
22c Yellow-edged, sharply 5 angled twigs
*Scotch Broom Cytisus Scoparius (22)
21b Three leaf bundle scars
23a More than 3 buds clustered on twig end
24a Many bud scales folding back
Garry Oak Quercus garryana (9)
24b Vivid, horizontal lenticels
Sweet Cherry Prunus avium (23)
23b Three or less buds on twig end
25a Crescent-shaped leaf scar
26a Terminal bud distinctly > ¼”
27a Abundant, prominent vertical lenticels
Indian Plum Oemleria cerasiformis (10)
27b Dotted lenticels
Serviceberry Amelanchier alnifolia (17)
27c Dark, inconspicuous lenticels
Red Flowering Currant Ribes sanguineum (16)
26b Terminal bud ~ ¼”
28a Long, gray, fuzzy, pointed terminal bud
*Mountain Ash Sorbus aucuparia (21)
28b Shiny, slightly sticky, conical bud
Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides (15)
26c Terminal bud <¼”
29a Ribbed; raised leaf scar; dead flowers
Oceanspray Holodiscus discolor (11)
29b Faintly lined twigs; spurs; round lenticels.
Pacific Crabapple Malus fusca ( 13)
25b Shield-shaped leaf scar
30a Minute blisters; stalked conical buds
Ceanothus Ceanothus sanguineus (7)
30b Prominent rings of bud scale scars
Stink Currant Ribes bracteosum (18)
25c Triangular leaf scar
31a Single or paired 2-3” catkins at nodes.
Beaked Hazelnut Corylus cornuta (4)
31b Slender, sticky, pointed, resinous buds.
Black Cottonwood Populus trichocarpa (5)
31c Curling, papery bark. absent terminal bud.
Paper Birch Betula papyrifera (14)
31d Vivid, horizontal lenticels. tapered buds.
Bitter Cherry Prunus emarginata (5)
25d Kidney-shaped leaf scar; stalked buds
Red Alder Alnus rubra (15)
25e Hidden leaf scar; zigzag twigs
Thimbleberry Rubus parviflorus (18)
21c Five leaf bundle scars; zigzag twigs
Pacific Ninebark Physocarpus capitatus (13)
Baldhip Rose – Rosa gymnocarpa – Spindly shrub to 5’. (a) The more sun, the redder the bark. Numerous dense, straight, fine, 1/8” prickles along slender stems, prominent toward base. (b) Young twigs often covered with fine hairs in lieu of prickles. (e) Green or red pointed tapering diverging <1/8” bud. 4-6 exposed shiny bud scales. (c/d) Alternate, raised, narrow, linear leaf scar more than half way around stem. Inconspicuous, horizontal bundle scars. Sparse, dark, tiny lenticels. Single, <1/2” oval hips orange turning black with no sepals common through winter. (f)
Beaked Hazelnut – Corylus cornuta var. californica – Arching, open branched large shrub or small tree to 20’. (b) Distinct hairy twig ends (g) that zigzag at nodes. (b/f) Alternate, oval ¼” bud, often lightly covered with soft white hairs. (e/f/g/i) End bud typically droops. (d/g) 2-toned shingled bud scales covered with hairs, partially clasp buds. (e/f/i) Slightly triangular, raised leaf scars (f/i), 3 bundle. (i) Numerous small, dotted, pale, flush lenticels. (h) Singular or paired catkins 2-3” at nodes in fall lengthen by spring. (a/c) At winters end tiny magenta flowers begin emerging. (a)
Big Leaf Maple – Acer macrophyllum – Tall tree to 100’, broadly spreading crown to 50’, distinctly opposite branching. (a) On ribbed, shiny, red twig end, 3 buds (tallest middle) with rounded tips. (c/d/e) 3-4 thick burgundy shingled bud scales. (c/d/e) Opposite, appressed, lateral bud (b) size increases toward twig end. Prominent V shaped abutting leaf scars, (b/c/d/e/f) 5-7 visible bundle scars. (b/f) Highly visible bud scale scar rings. Numerous small, slightly raised, pale lenticels. Persistent clusters of brown, narrow angled samaras with veined wings (g) covered with tiny stiff bristles as long as 2 inches. Commonly draped with moss and licorice fern.
Bitter Cherry – Prunus emarginata – Slender, fast growing tree to 45’. (a) Shiny, reddish or gray thin bark with vivid, horizontal lenticels, (b/c) may be dotted on twigs. Spurs common on older stems.Whip-like young twigs sometimes hairy, become shiny with age. Alternate, tapered brown buds. (b/d/e/f) Triangular, raised leaf scars, numerous bundle scars often obscured by membrane.
Black Cottonwood – Populus trichocarpa – Large, fast growing tree to 200’ tall, 6’ thick. (a) Obscurely 5 angled young shoots becoming round. Tawny, slightly zigzag twigs droop down and curve like spurs. Conspicuous lenticels typically elongated vertically. Slender sticky brown shiny sharply pointed appressed alternate buds, longer terminal, (b/c/d) with balsam aroma. Sap tasts mildly sweet, lingering bitter aftertaste. Bud scales shingled and sticky. (c/d) Small,slightly triangular leaf scars, 3 bundles, center one larger. Male catkins start growing late winter.
Black Gooseberry – Ribes lacustre – Spreading to floppy shrub to 5’. Older cinnamon shredding bark mostly unarmed. (a) Twigs bleached with a bronze hue. (b/d/d) Numerous, prominent, fine golden internodal prickles. (b/c) 1-7 large thick spines up to 1” just beneath nodes. (b/c/d) Thin, diverging, tapering, pointed ¼” buds whorled around stem, redder closer to twig end. Margins of leaf often at bud tip. 3 or more shingled bud scales, margins of inner scales wooly. Alternate, raised, narrow crescent leaf scars perched atop spine base. 3 bundle scars.
Black Hawthorn – Crataegus douglasii – Often single trunked large shrub to small tree to 40’. (a) Inconspicuous, sparse, slightly raised lenticels on shiny red twigs. (c) 3+ year old plants have single, stout sharp thorns, sometimes with buds, up to 1.5” at right angles from stem. (d/e) Alternate, deep red, shiny, scaly rounded buds. (c) Lower scales fleshy. Slightly curved raised leaf scars covered with tiny scale-like hairs. 3 bundle scars. ~1/4” oval, dark fruit, fringe of sepals surround tip, shriveled by mid-winter.
Black Twinberry – Lonicera involucrate – Strikingly opposite branched shrub to 7’. (a/b) Bark shreds with age. Four thin ribs between nodes result in a square-like twig. Triangular terminal bud with thin outer bud scales peeling away. Opposite, flat, triangular pointed lateral buds curve up the twig. (c/d/e) Triangular-shaped leaf scars with 3 bundles, the center one raised. Tiny, dark, sparse inconspicuous lenticels. Pairs of round black fruit on 2” stems persists into early winter.
Blackcap – Rubus leucodermis – Erect, arching whitish biennial canes with bluish bloom to 10’. (a/b/c/d) Tip layers. Stiff flattened, sometimes curved 1/8” prickles. (b/c/d) Alternate green or red, tapering, slightly pointed ¼” buds.n(b/d) Loose bud scales with hairy margins. (d) Inconspicuous leaf scars, 3 bundle scars, on petiole base. Leaves persist into early winter.
Cascara – Frangula purshiana – Oval-crowned tree to 30’. Fine hairy burgundy sometimes partially lime green twig often curved upwards. Alternate, appressed and terminal buds have no scales, exposing velvety, deeply veined tiny young leaves folded around even tinier leaves, opening outwards often separating into irregular ‘angel wings’. (c) Small, oval leaf scars, 3 bundles. Ovate deep green leaves may persist into winter on younger trees
Ceanothus – Ceanothus sangineus – Reddish stemmed shrub to 9’. Twigs roughened by minute blisters. (a) Bud stalk lengthens through winter. Round terminal bud, laterals more pointed, covered by wide scales, inner ones densely hairy. (b) Tiny, raised thumbnail-shaped leaf scars often on remnant petiole material. 3 bundle scars. Clusters of tiny 3 chambered capsule fruits on branch ends may persist.
Clustered Rose – Rosa pisocarpa – Spindly shrub to 7’. (a) Sturdy flattened prickles to 1” enlarged at base, usually straight, sometimes curved, often larger pairs beneath nodes. (d/e) More thin prickles on younger, hairy stems. Alternate, diverging, long-ovoid pointed ¼” buds matching twig color. (f) Shingled bud scales. (f) Linear leaf scar more than half way around stem. Inconspicuous 3 bundle scars. Usually in clusters of 3-5, 1/2” round, bright red-turning-black hips with sepals. (b/c)
Devils Club – Oplopanax horridus –Erect to 12’with singular, stout yellowish stalks to 1” thick. (a/b/c) Abundant yellowish, prominent ½” prickles slanted along internodes, especially clustered on nodes. (d/e/f) Prickles look intimidating but easily peel off. Dense prickles cover small, alternate lateral buds. (f) Conical ½” terminal bud. (e) Alternate, U leaf scar, numerous bundle scars. (c/d) Softly sweet aroma.
Douglas Maple – Acer glabrum –Opposite branched, (a) short-trunked shrub or small tree to 30’. Vividly shiny red twig ends with 3matching shiny red buds (largest in middle) with pointed tips. Alternate, small, ovoid, pointed lateral buds. (b/c) Flattened at the nodes. Leaf scars around stem. Elongated, flush lenticels. Remnant V-shaped samaras may persist. (d/e)
False Azalea – Menziesia ferruginea –Spreading or erect shrub to 9’. Older branches shredding and scaly. (a) Faintly lined beneath leaf scar. (b) Finely haired, sticky twigs with shortening internode distance approaching twig end. (c) Alternate, conical buds. (b/c) 3 or 5 conspicuous bud scales. Terminal clusters of 2-8 urn-shaped flowers on long thin stalks may persist.
Garry Oak – Quercus garryana –Heavily-limbed, round-crowned tree to 75’. Numerous smaller, twisted branches. Twigs with prominent bud scale scars (d) and short internodes (c) hang from older limbs curling upward. Terminal bud on platform with cluster of smaller tapering pointed buds, (a/c) many bud scales folding back and clasp. Alternate, swollen hairy buds with downy compact dark brown bud scales. Raised crescent leaf scars, >7 leaf bundle scars often obscured by membrane. (b) Dark brown leaves (e) often persist until new bud growth breaks leaf attachment. If animals miss them, acorns may persist.
Hardhack – Spiraea douglasii – Erect shrub to 7’ with stiff, slender, straight, branches. (a/b/f) Spindly, tawny, shiny twigs sometimes hairy. Opposite, sometimes sub-opposite, oval, silvery white buds (f) partially covered by bud scales with short, silky, white hairs. (c/d/e) Raised small triangular creamy leaf scar. (f) One 1 prominent bundle scar. Sparse, flush lenticels. Distinctive, dry, brown flower heads persist through winter. (a/b)
Highbush Cranberry – Viburnum edule – Loosely branched erect shrub to 10’. Pithy, slightly peeling tan twig, furrows giving a 6-sided appearance. Opposite, long, pointed, appressed, shortly stalked ¼” nearly parallel buds. 2 bud scales. (a/b) Raised, broad U-shaped leaf scars, 3 raised horizontal bundle scars. Clusters of bright red berries may persist.
Hooker’s Willow – Salix hookeriana –Shrub or small tree to 18’. Single bud scale covering fuzzy bud. (a/b) Last few inches of new stem growth died back to lateral bud. No true terminal bud. . Alternate, appressed buds flattened at tip. (b) Narrow U-shaped leaf scar, 3 bundles. Often insect galls. Broad, bushy. Stout gray fuzzy twigs. (a/b) Showy catkins in February.
Indian Plum – Oemleria cerasiformis – Loose, narrow stems (a) arch from tightly clustered base to 16’. Spurs on older stems. Abundant, prominent lenticels. (b/c/d/e) Long, slender buds turning green to pink and plump (b/c/d/e), terminal buds turning upward and much larger than laterals, blooming as early as February. Soon after bright green pointy thin leaves begin unravelling. Artichoke-like bud scales. (c/d) Narrow, crescent leaf scar, (b/c/d/e) 3 bundle scars. Chambered pith with cucumber aroma. Rarely dried black fruits or their stalks persist on short stems.
Mock Orange – Philadelphus lewisii –Erect, loosely branched, orangey shrub to 10’. Pairs of opposite branchlets often perpendicular. (c) Scaly bark shreds in strips with age. Glossy, straight, thin, (g) brittle hollow twigs flattened at swollen nodes. (b/f) Tiny terminal bud and inconspicuous, (g) opposite, lateral buds (a/b/e/f) and with no scales protected beneath membrane. Membrane covers small, raised, triangular leaf scars, (a/e) 3 bundle scars, connected by a line around stem. (b/f)
Nootka Rose – Rosa nutkana – Spindly shrub to 9’. Sturdy flattened prickles to 1.5” enlarged at base, usually straight, sometimes curved, often larger pairs beneath nodes. (a/b/c) More thin prickles on younger, hairy stems. Alternate, diverging, long-ovoid pointed ¼” buds matching twig color. (a/d) Shingled bud scales. Linear leaf scar more than half way around stem. Inconspicuous 3 bundle scars. Usually single, >1/2” round, bright red-turning-black hips with sepals. (e)
Ocean Spray – Holodiscus discolor –Fountain-shaped, large, erect shrub to15’ with several long, flexible arching. clustered main stems. Tiny spurs on older shredding stems. Lightly hairy twigs with varying number of ribs. Lenticels same color as twig. Greatly raised, crescent leaf scar beneath bud. (b) 3 bundle scars. Alternate, bi-colored red/black pointed buds, often densely hairy bud scales. (a) Large, white, spongy pith. Drooping plumes of cascading lilac-like flowers turned rich brown with numerous star-shaped seed capsules persist. (a)
Orange Honeysuckle – Lonicera ciliosa –Climbing and twining to 60’ and creeping, broadly branched vine. (a) Shredding bark. Several thin, woody, spiraling clockwise stems up to 1’. Slender, flexible, hollow twigs. Lightly hairy, flattened opposite buds atop persistent petiole bases. (b/c/d/e/f) 2-4 visible bud scales. (d/e/f) Hidden, raised, triangular leaf scars joined around stem by line, (b/c/d/e/f) 3 bundle scars. Silvery, paired oval leaves with whitish bloom undersides persist into early winter. Lush greenery by winter’s end. End leaf pair fuses to form disk.
Oregon Ash – Fraxinus latifolia – Tree with trunk to 60’ tall, 3’ thick. (a) Rigid and erratic branches. Distinctly opposite twigs (b) flattened at nodes, (c) often covered with long soft straight hairs. Closely packed small orangey buds near blunt twig ends. (b) Tan, slightly raised, vertical lenticels. Opposite, appressed, wide lateral buds with ridged tips. (b) Pointed, tapering terminal bud, often pedestalled by smaller bud pair, atop wider twig end. (d) 4 pairs of shingled bud scales, 1 distinct and lightly hairy. Numerous bundle scars seen through the membrane covering the striking, pale, crescent-shaped leaf scar. (b) Leaf scars and buds not strictly opposite.
Oval-Leaved Blueberry – Vaccinium ovalifolium –Dense shrub to 4’ with slender, straggling branches (a/b). Strongly ribbed to sharply 5-angled twigs (a/b), rosy new growth becoming gray and shredding with age. (c) Alternate, minute buds, (a/b/c/d) Crescent raised leaf scar, one bundle scar. (d) Oval, leaves turning reddish persist into early winter especially along base. (e)
Pacific Crab Apple – Malus fusca – Multi-trunked tree to 30’, rounded crown. Sprawling, stiff, erratic branching (a), older stems with shredding bark. Twigs finely lined beneath leaf scar. Small, round, flush, pale-red lenticels randomly scattered on young, reddish, hairy twigs. Few spurs with pointed terminal bud. (c/d) Alternate `1/4”, oval buds. Shingled bud scales lined with hair toward top. (e) Raised narrow leaf scars (e), 3 large bundles. Small yellow apples can persist. (b) Straggling, sharp-toothed leaves, sometimes with an asymmetrical lobe persist.
Pacific Dogwood – Cornus nuttallii –Small irregular-shaped tree up to 40’. Branchings often in whorls of 3 or 4. (f) Hairy twig ends have long internodes, tend to curve upward. Dotted lenticels. Opposite, narrow, curved, extremely pointed appressed ¼” buds. Especially on terminal bud, 2 stiff scales pull away but remain attached revealing 2 inner full soft, hairy bud coverings with white tips curing at top. (a/c/d) Narrow V-shaped flush leaf scars, 3 bundle scars. Tendency to retain many leaves. Clusters of plum-like fruits may persist into winter. (b)
Pacific Ninebark – Physocarpus capitatus – Up to13’ shrub arching sunward from clustered base. Bark prominently vertically curling back in thin long strips especially from bases of older stems revealing tan streaks. (a/b/c/d) Whip-like, shiny twig ends sharply angled with lines beneath leaf scar to next node where bark begins shredding. Alternate, appressed, oval, hairy, dark reddish-brown buds. (e) Minutely hairy, layered bud scales. (e) Prominent, mustache-shaped, raised leaf scars beneath bud ‘pedastal’, 5 bundle scars. Often round clusters of dried hanging flowers persist.
Pacific Willow – Salix lucinda var. lasiandra –Slender tree to 35’, noticeable trunk that soon forks into stout, crooked limbs. Older bark fissured. Often insect galls. Glossy, flexible, usually hairless twigs (b/c/d), brittle at base. Last few inches of new stem growth died back to lateral bud; no true terminal bud. Single bud scale. (b/c/d) Alternate, appressed buds flattened at tip. (b/c/d) Narrow U-shaped leaf scar (d), 3 bundles. 3”- 5” catkins with hairy, yellow-brown scales may be present. Lanced leaves may persist. (a) Tallest willow in Pacific Northwest frequently with other willows and Alder.
Paper Birch – Betula papyrifera –Slender tree to 60’. (a) Noticeable horizontal lenticels, feel like sandpaper on twigs, white-copper on older, thin bark (b) peeling in curling papery copper to pink strips that stay attached revealing an orangey inner bark (c). Spurs on some older growth. Rough, white, oval lenticels on twigs. (e) Twig ends zigzag. (d) Alternate, slightly pointed, dark, diverging buds with 3+ shingled bud scales. (e/f) 3 raised leaf bundle scars. Terminal buds absent. (g) Catkins elongate to ~2” throughout winter. (f/g)
Poison Oak– Toxicodendron diversilobium –Dense shrub with parallel erect branches, © tiny tree to 6’, or climbing vine to 75’ with 3” thick rough trunk. Reddish, ribbed (a), lightly hairy twigs. (b) Numerous raised, dotted lenticels. Alternate, rounded, densely hairy buds with no bud scales. (b) U-shaped leaf scar. 5+ bundle scars. Sometimes hairy stems and spurs with terminal buds. Whitish turning brown fruit clusters, sometimes with vertical brown lines, may persist. (a)
Quaking Aspen – Populus tremuloides –Slender, conical tree to 60’. (a) Chalky white bark with protrusions. (b) Spurs with distinct terminal blackish buds on older branches. (c) Shiny, contorted, curving, slightly drooping, reddish twigs, becoming rough with leaf and bud scale scars with age. (c) Occasional small, oval lenticels. Alternate, oval, pointed, blackish buds coming to sharp point. (d) Thick, brown, slightly sticky bud scales. (c/d/e) Raised leaf scars, 3 bundle scars along upper margin of leaf scar. Frequently root suckers.
Red Alder – Alnus rubra –Conical, straight, fast growing tree to 120’, mostly single or double trunked. Smooth bark frequently patched with whitish lichen. Red, shiny twigs (a/b), gray hair toward end, prominently ribbed beneath leaf scar. Numerous lenticels. Often sticky, reddish, club-shaped buds on short stalks. (a/b) Light green/pink to red bud scales. Kidney-shaped leaf scars with middle dip in top. 3 bundle scars, center one raised with 2 or more sections. Distinctly triangular pith. Clusters of 4-8 oval, hard-scale, ~1” dark cones on stout stalks hanging from twig ends persist (d); new green cones at winter end. (c) Reddish catkins grow throughout winter.
Red Elderberry – Sambucus racemosa var. pubens – Shrub or small tree to 20’, upright branchlets. (a) Reddish bark; prominent, raised, vertical, warty lenticels. Brittle, stout pithy (c), 8-angled twigs. (b) Opposite, swollen rounded lateral, short-stalked buds (e/f) often parallel to thick stem. Terminal bud often absent with last node dying bak. 3 or more shingled bud scales turn bi-colored with bud early (f). Large shield-shaped leaf scar, 5-7 bundle scars.
Red-Flowering Currant – Ribes sanguineum –Bushy shrub to 10’; many upright stems from base. (a) Older bark may shred. Reddish to tawny, lightly hairy younger twigs. (b/c/d) Older twigs with diverging lateral spurs (e) and numerous pale, slightly raised, often elongated lenticels at twig base. Conspicuous green to rosy-red, short-stalked, hairy, somewhat appressed, sharply pointed ½” buds (b/c/d), often with auxiliary bud beneath terminal bud. Raised, angular crescent leaf scare, 3 bundle scars. String of dried fruits, fruit stalks, (f/g) and leaves (g/h) may persist.
Red Huckleberry – Vaccinium parvifolium –Shrub to 10’ with noticeably green, dense, wispy branches in tiers along trunk. (a/b) Sharply 4-5 angled or ribbed, fine, zigzag twigs. (c/d) Alternate, tiny, oval, pink to red buds with flattened, curving tips. (d/e) Raised leaf scar with single bundle scar. Prefers to grow on stump or nurse log.
Red-Osier Dogwood – Cornus sericea –Many stemmed shrub or small tree to 15’. Bark shiny crimson in sun, yellow or green in shade. Distinctly opposite, straight (a), 3-5’ ribbed twigs. Tightly appressed (b/e) or short-stalked (c/d), elongated, pointed ¼” buds, sometimes splitting in 2 at tips. No bud scales, but 2 scale-like outer leaves. (e) Prominent, raised, dotted lenticels. .V-shaped leaf scars, 3-5 bundles. Flat-topped flower cluster and bluish-turning-black fruits may persist on stem tips – more commonly clustered berry stems.
Salmonberry – Rubus spectabilis –Weak, sparsely prickled (b) shrub to 12’. Shredding, satiny bark with more fine prickles at base. Glossy, zigzag (a/f) twigs sometimes prickled. Lightly ribbed. Twig ends often appear thin and dead. Terminal buds absent. Alternate, light green, pointed lateral buds atop remaining shredded leaf material. (c/d/e) Hairy bud scales. (c/d/e) Crescent leaf scar, 3 bundle scars, often hidden beneath persistent petiole base. (c) Inconspicuous, thin, vertically elongated lenticels. Sometimes with black blotches. (b/e/g)
Scouler’s Willow – Salix scouleriana – Tall, rounded spindly (a) upland shrub or multi-stemmed small tree to 25’. Often insect galls. Flexible, smooth, densely velvety twigs. (b/c/d) Last few inches of new stem growth died back to lateral bud; no true terminal bud. . Alternate, appressed buds flattened at tip. (b/c/d) Single bud scale. (b/c/d) Narrow U-shaped leaf scar, 3 bundle scars.
Serviceberry – Amelanchier alnifolia –Upright, densely-branched (a) often multi-trunked shrub or small tree to 40’ with rounded crown. Fruiting spurs with rough, semi-concentric rings of bud scale scars curve on older twigs. Sparsely hairy, reddish, odorous twig tips. Dotted lenticels. Alternate, long, slender, sharply pointed, multi-colored buds curve out from or around stem. (b/c) Several loose, purple to red, outer bud scales often yellow and white hairs along margin. (b/c) Very narrow, somewhat crescent leaf scars often jutting in slightly between 3 raised bundles. Dried, black ¼” oval, clustered, hanging fruit rarely persists into winter.
Snowberry – Symphoricarpos albus – Densely branched shrub to 6” with very fine, brittle, spindly tawny opposite twigs. (a/b) Shredding older bark. Slender, hollow twigs greatly flattened at nodes. Tiny, oval, light green pointed buds with golden tips (c) covered with opaque, bud scales, larger than terminal bud. Triangular raised connected leaf scars, 3 bundle scars, center one visible. Clustered white fading to brown ½” spongy berries may persist. (d)
Stink Currant – Ribes bracteosum –Tall, single cane-like stalked, erect shrub to 10’. (a) Bark peels and cracks with age. Slightly hairy twigs finely ribbed . Alternate, oval, sparsely hairy-tipped >1/4” buds (b) with papery, bud scales (c/d), stalked on dark, large petiole remnants. (c/d/f) Hidden raised V leaf scars. 3 distinct dark-brown bundles. (c/d) Larger terminal bud atop bud scale scars. (e) Conspicuous rings of bud scale scars encircle stem.
Thimbleberry – Rubus parviflorus –Cane-like stalks, thicket forming shrub to 10’. (a) Shredding older bark reveals rust-brown inner bark. Zigzagging (a), hairy twigs ending in slight curve, finely ribbed beneath leaf scar. Alternate, narrowly oval, plump, hairy-tipped ¼” buds with papery bud scales, embedded in dark, large petiole remnants covering raised leaf scars. (b/c/d)
Vine Maple – Acer circinatum – Sprawling, twisted-trunked shrub to small tree to 30’ with rounded crown. Bark redder in sun, greener in shade. (b/c) Distinct Y branching. (b) Numerous dotted small pale lenticels. Often 2 buds at twig end, rarely 1 or 3 (c) – buds mostly similar size and burgundy color with fine hair on tips or base. (c) Tuft of hairs at bud scale tips. (c) Narrow leaf scars, topped with light hair, 3 bundle scars. Wide V samara, almost straight line sometimes on tree, (a) often on ground.
Butterfly Bush – Buddleia davidi –Robust branching shrub arching toward sun. Twigs with opposite lateral buds and pale 4-sided bark (b) becomes fissured with age. (c) Long leaves green above white fuzzy beneath persist, inflorescence persisting longer. (a) Large, white pith
European Hawthorn – Crateagus monogyna -Shiny, thorny shrub or small tree to 30’. (a) Short, sharp thorns and spurs (b), sometimes with buds. Alternate, diverging small, round, red shiny buds. (c/d) Crescent-shaped leaf scar. Clumps of elliptical scarlet fruit with 1 large nutlet persist. (e/f)
Horse Chestnut – Aesculus Hippocastanum –Tree with wide spreading older branches with curled up tips. Shiny, deep red to blackish plump, sticky buds. (a/b) Large, sticky terminal buds. (a/b) Distinct U-shaped leaf scars, 3 – 7 bundles. Dig or pull up sapling to find squirrel-cached dark brown nut at root end.
Japanese Knotweed – Polygonum cuspidatum –Dead, deep reddish to brown bamboo-like stems, hollow between swollen nodes surrounded by thin papery sheaths, persist through winter. Upright wispy flower plumes persist into early winter. (a/b) Buds die back after first frost. Plant grows from rhizome buds beneath soil in spring.
Mountain Ash – Sorbus aucuparia –Spreading tree to 35’. White, sticky hairs on young twigs and buds. Dotted lenticels. Long, gray, fuzzy, pointed terminal bud. (b/c) Alternate, appressed lateral buds. (b) Crescent-shaped leaf scar. Small, reddish fruit clustered on twig end may persist.
Norway Maple – Acer platanoides –Spreading tree to 60’. Shallow furrows with small criss-cross grooves on older trunk bark. (a) Reddish twigs. (a) Opposite buds. (c) Scattered white lenticels. V leaf scar, 1 bundle. (c) Shoots contain milky sap. Leafs out earlier and holds yellow leaves longer than other maples. (e) Nearly 180 degree angled to U shaped samaras with flattened, disc-shaped seeds may be found on ground. (d)
Old Man’s Beard – Clematis vitalba –Climbing vine to 100’ tall forming mats over trees. Stout trunk to 3” thick with loose, shredding bark. (b) Deeply-ribbed, fragile, semi-woody twigs dark purple in sun, pale green in shade. Swollen nodes. 2- 3 pairs of bud scales with tiny white hairs. Persistent wispy seedheads. (a)
Purple Osier Willow – Salix purpurea –Shrub to 10’. Flexible, smooth, purplish to yellowish shoots. Alternate buds becoming sub-opposite toward branch ends. (b) Black, pointed, fuzzy bud with single bud scale. (a/b/c) No true terminal bud; last few inches of new stem growth died back to lateral bud. Alternate, appressed buds flattened at tip. Narrow U-shaped leaf scar, 3 bundles.
Scotch Broom – Cytisus scoparius –Upright shrub to 4’ with nearly parallel, spindly, green branches. (a) Thin green, sharply 5 angled stiff twigs with yellow vertical edges. (b/c) Alternate, small yellow or green round buds. (b/c) Leaf scars on cushion, 1 bundle scar. Leaves may persist
Sweet Cherry – Prunus avium –Slender tree to 75’, peeling shiny, red-brown, thin bark. (a/b) Vivid, horizontal lenticels, (a/b) may be dotted on twigs. (d) Whip-like young twigs sometimes hairy, (d) become shiny with age. Alternate, tapered reddish brown buds (d) with distinct bud scales. Triangular, raised leaf scars, (d) numerous bundle scars often obscured by membrane. Spurs common on older stems. (a) Buds cluster near twig end, (a/c) creating almost whorled branching.
References / Resources
Carkeek Park Digital Plant Library, Loren McElvain
Grow Your Own Native Landscape: A Guide to Identifying, Propagating & Landscaping with Western Washington Native Plants, WSU Extension Native Plant Salvage Project, Thurston County. Michael Leigh.
An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees, second edition 1981, University of California Press. Written by Howard E. McMinn and Evelyn Maino.
Manual of Oregon Trees and Shrubs, reprinted 1984 by O.S.U. Book Stores, Inc. Warren R. Randall, Robert F. Keniston, Dale N. Bever, Edward C. Jensen.
National Audubon Society Filed Guide to Trees: Western Region, 1980. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Prepared and produced by Chanticleer Press, Inc.
Native Trees of Canada, seventh edition 1973. Information Canada. R. C. Hosie.
Natural Resources Canada, http://tidcf.nrcan.gc.ca/
Noxious Weeds, King County Washington, http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/noxious-weeds.aspx
Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary, second edition 2000. Spring Lake Publishing. James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris.
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska, revised 2004. Lone Pine Publishing. Compiled and edited by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, http://plants.usda.gov/java/
UW Herbarium at the Burke, http://www.burkemuseum.org/herbarium
Virginia Tech Forest Biology and Dendrology Education http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu
Wild Plants of Greater Seattle: A Field Guide to Native and Naturalized Plants of the Seattle Area, second edition 2001. Written and published by Arthur Lee Jacobson.
Winter in the Woods: A Winter Guide to Deciduous Native Plants in Western Washington, revised January 2013, WSU Extension Publications. Native Plant Salvage Project WSU Cooperative Extension Thurston County. Erica Guttman & Rod Thurman.
Winter Twigs: A Wintertise Key to Deciduous Trees and Shrubs of Northwestern Oregon and Western Washington, revised 2001, Oregon State University Press. Helen M. Gilkey and Patricia L. Packard.
Flora species list from 1850 https://mekwamooks.wordpress.com/seattle-flora-1850/