In winter you may come across two thorn trees that look similar, the Common Hawthorn and the Blackthorn.
If you look carefully at the thorns, however, you should be able to tell one from the other. The photos shown below are all taken from the Tree Guide UK app.
These are the thorns of the Common Hawthorn. These thorns are usually less than 2.5 cm long. There are no buds on the thorns.
These are the thorns of the Blackthorn. They are much longer than those of the Common Hawthorn. They may be 5cm or more long. There are buds on the thorns.
The deciduous trees are now shedding their leaves and won’t grow a new set until spring. But you can still identify these trees using this guide by examining the buds, bark, old leaves, old fruit, thorns or catkins. The photos shown below are all taken from the Tree Guide UK app.
To identify a tree by its buds you need to look first at the bud at the end of the shoot. This is called the Terminal Bud.
This is the terminal bud of a Horse Chestnut shoot. This photo was taken in November. The bud is large and often sticky with gum that helps to waterproof the bud through the winter.
Next you need to look at the Lateral Buds further back along the shoot.
These are the lateral buds of the Horse Chestnut and as you can see they are opposite one another, a diagnostic feature of the Horse Chestnut.
Finally you should look at other parts of the shoot.
This is the leaf scar of a Horse Chestnut shoot. When the leaf falls, this scar is left on the shoot. The 6 marks that look like horse shoe nails are in fact the remains of the tubes that took water and nutrients to and from the leaf. This is a very clear diagnostic feature of the Horse Chestnut tree in winter.