Tree identification in winter

Most broadleaf trees are deciduous and shed their leaves in autumn. Note that Holly, Holm Oak, Cherry Laurel and Portugal Laurel are evergreen. Most conifers are evergreens but European Larch, Dawn Redwood and Swamp Cypress are deciduous. In winter you can still identify evergreen conifers  using the Conifer Leaf Key and Conifer Cone Key.

Tree identification in winter is still possible for deciduous trees by using key characteristics such as tree shape, tree branches, buds, thorns, catkins, bark and old fruit and leaves.  There are 8 keys to choose from. Decide which key you want to use and  click on the BUTTON below the key icon or use the LIST in the next panel.

How to identify a tree in winter using keys – click on the name of the key in red to go directly to the key.

  1. From a distance look at the shape  
  2. Move closer and look at the branches
  3. Examine any catkins that appear before the leaves
  4.  Examine the buds, which will be easy to see
  5. Compare the bark
  6. Examine any thorns
  7. Search for any old fruit on or under the tree
  8. Search for any old leaves under the tree


This Website uses photos and text from the Tree Guide UK apps and the Field Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe to provide a set of Identification keys that are easily accessible online, particularly on mobile phones.  Keys are based on photographs, taken at appropriate times of the year. Many are close-ups to illustrate particular features that differentiate tree species and families. Some keys have links to full descriptions of trees. Identification may involve looking at several keys before coming to a conclusion and even then may lead to consultation of more extensive guides or internet searches before coming up with a full diagnosis.  Tree identification is a process of elimination and on this website we aim to get you started on that process.