Tree identification by winter branches
In winter, once the leaves have fallen, you may be able to identify mature deciduous trees by the appearance of their branches. A branch can take two main forms. In one (monopodial) the main growth is in the same direction every year with branching on either side e.g Ash, Aspen and Lombardy Poplar. In the other (sympodial) the main growth changes every time a branch is formed giving a zig-zag and ‘twiggy’ appearance e.g Maples, Limes and Oaks. Note that some trees have straight growth when young but become twiggy when flowers are formed e.g. Horse Chestnut.
Tree identification by winter branches – shape and orientation of branches, buds, thorns and old fruit. Here are 20 examples of trees that are common in Britain. Click on each photo to enlarge it.