This site is intended as a resource for those interested in the 130 species of trees
growing outside of cultivation in Wisconsin. See the text at the beginning of the key below for an explanation of the number. Cultivated species are not covered in this web site, unless they also escape and reproduce on their own. A page is provided for each Wisconsin tree species with
photos and descriptions. A key and a glossary are provided to help with
their identification and an introduction to tree and shrub identification
is also provided for beginners.
It may be entertaining to compare unknown plants to pictures of known
species, but it is a very risky business to identify them in that manner.
If you are serious about learning the identity of plants (i.e. if it
is important that the answer you arrive at is correct), you must learn
to use one of the many keys available for that purpose. Photos can provide
insight into the various terms used in the keys, but individual leaves,
tree shapes, bark patterns, etc are so variable that no picture can
adequately represent any particular species. Consider this example of
extreme variation in three leaves from the same branch of a White
Mulberry tree, or this selection of leaves taken from a single
branch of a Thornapple, or
a branch of a Choke Cherry.
One of the difficulties in learning to identify trees rests in the
common desire among beginners for a single character that will distinguish
a particular species. Because of the highly variable nature of plants,
it is frequently necessary to consider several characters to make a
reliable identification. That is why keys are essential. They can describe
combinations of characters and a range of possibilities more accurately
than is possible in a picture.