BUDS – If the tree is deciduous and has lost its leaves, you should be able to identify it by examining its buds.This is the most reliable way of identifying a deciduous tree in  winter. Buds are located at the end of stems (terminal buds) and along stems (lateral buds). Here are photos of stems with lateral buds arranged in four different ways and examples are given of some of the trees that fit these categories.

Identification by buds can be difficult, particularly if the they are very small and not easy to see. So you may have to rely on other features in winter. Examine the bark, old leaves, old fruit, thorns, catkins or the tree shape and use one of the other options to see if they give you a clue to the tree identity and then check the buds again.

Opposite buds of Horse Chestnut

OPPOSITE

Horse Chestnut, Maples, Ash, Spindle, Elder, Box Elder, Dawn Redwood

Alternate spiral buds of Goat Willow

ALTERNATE SPIRAL

Willows, Poplars, Beech, Hazel, Birch, Alder, Walnut, Sweet Chestnut, Birches

Alternate buds of Small-leaved Lime

ALTERNATE ZIG-ZAG

Elms, Limes, Mulberries

Clustered buds of English Oak

ALTERNATE CLUSTERED

Cherries, Oaks

SYCAMORE

HORSE CHESTNUT

ASH

ELDER

SPINDLE

POPLAR

WILLOW

BEECH

HORNBEAM

WALNUT

WILD CHERRY

ENGLISH OAK

SESSILE OAK

TURKEY OAK

WYCH ELM