Mystery tree ID! Please help!

Discussion in 'Tree and Plant ID Database' started by CoolBreeze135, May 25, 2016.

  1. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Hey folks. I've been working on my tree ID skills, and have been paying extra attention to trees I encounter to get familiar with the local flora.

    This guy is growing in my backyard, and I'm fairly confident it is a basswood. It has alternate simple leaves that are rather heart-shaped, a lot of sprouts growing from around the base of the trunk, fibrous inner bark, and a very white pith. The terminal twigs are very flexible and pliable, and the leaves grow quite large. Many are larger than my L-XL size hands. The wood is pretty soft, and quite lightweight.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    According to everything I read, this is all fairly typical of a basswood. But here's one thing that make me second guess: the base of basswood leaves are always described as uneven, while all these leaves seem pretty even to me. The only other candidate I could think of was a cottonwood, and the leaves are not not triangular enough for a cottonwood IMO.


    Update: Definitely doesn't seem to be a basswood. Been watching it all summer, and there have been no blooms. The leaves aren't quite right either. The other best candidate is mulberry, but there haven't been any berries on this three either, and the leaves look distinctly different from other mulberry trees in my yard.

    What say ye?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  2. Pablo

    Pablo Hobbyist Hobbyist

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,161
    Likes Received:
    144
    I'm not confident that's basswood. The basswood in our area, and that is shown in my i.d. books, has assymetrical lobes on the leaves where the stem leaves the leaf. One lobe is much larger than the other on every leaf. Other things might match though... check a good book
     
  3. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    250
    Looks kind of like a Red Mulberry to me.
     
  4. DOC-CANADA

    DOC-CANADA Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    May 17, 2015
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Hamilton, Ontario
    If it's Basswood, you will be able to positively identify it when it flowers.

    Doc
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  5. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    The younger growth has very smooth bark. Those are the older main trunks, which are maybe 10" in diameter.
     
  6. DOC-CANADA

    DOC-CANADA Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    May 17, 2015
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Hamilton, Ontario
    You'll notice I've changed my post, but it doesn't look like Basswood to me, at least around here. As above, once it flowers, you will know for sure.
     
  7. Mustang

    Mustang Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    The People's Republic of Maryland
    Looks like basswood to me. The bark is a little rougher than I've seen in the past, but there are two variants of basswood. White basswood is more likely along the Appalachians and it may have more deeply grooved bark than American basswood like I'm used to. The leaf is spot on, though.
     
  8. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    I have several red mullberry trees on my property. This is not the same tree.
     
  9. DOC-CANADA

    DOC-CANADA Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    May 17, 2015
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Hamilton, Ontario
  10. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    I'm growing less sure that the tree in the OP is a basswood. Here is a basswood I snapped a pic of on my lunch break walk.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    I actually do not think this is a proper American basswood, but rather a relative in the linden family. My bets are on littleleaf linden. I've seen similar trees with larger, lighter leaves of the same size, with the same distinctive bloom that are probably American basswood.
     
  12. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    One should note that species themselves in the tilia genus are highly variable. I can't remember how many but I know at one point it was thought there were 15+ species native to the US. They narrowed it down to 3 eventually. Leaf morphology can be especially variable.
     
  13. Mjolnir

    Mjolnir Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    250
    You're probably correct but I just took a picture of a leaf from one of my red mulberries and to my old eyes it is very similar to your second photograph: IMG_20160525_141421[1].jpg
     
  14. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Update: Definitely doesn't seem to be a basswood. Been watching it all summer, and there have been no blooms. The leaves aren't quite right either. The other best candidate is mulberry, but there haven't been any berries on this three either, and the leaves look distinctly different from other mulberry trees in my yard.

    Help!
     
  15. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    I bet you have a male mulberry if you haven't seen any fruit. Seen any catkins?
     
  16. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Nope. No catkins either. But I wasn't paying attention to it in the early spring so I may have missed them. It may be a mullberry, but the leaves are huge. Many are bigger than my large size hands. Some as big as my face. My other mulberries have smaller leaves.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  17. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    So like this?

    [​IMG]

    I apologize, it is really hard to ID from your pictures alone as your pictures don't show leaves of the scale you are referencing. From your area (TN) if the leaves are as big as you say and in this picture here then what you have is Tilia caroliniana or a designer hybrid of it. From this leaf size you just described it immediately booted mulberry from the possibility. There are many many many hybrids they have made making specific ID in the field a P.I.T.A as they have crossed Tilia americana with Tilia caroliniana back and forth to get a multitude of results.

    I also apologize as I start work at 6am and my son was up at 2am last night so I didn't get much sleep last night, meaning I'm going to bed and wont see your response till tomorrow.
     
  18. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    No worries! I understand it is difficult. Yes, some of the leaves are that large. It looks like it could be some variety of Tilia caroliniana, but the lack of blooms this season is throwing me off. This is the best match so far, though. Thanks for all your help!
     
    jasonb40 likes this.
  19. jasonb40

    jasonb40 Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Wouldn't be a catalpa would it? Or Catawba? It's the best I can do off the top of my head.
     
  20. jasonb40

    jasonb40 Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Is it a catalpa? Southern catalpa? Or something? Ha. Good luck!
     
  21. jasonb40

    jasonb40 Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Or a hackberry? The bark doesn't seem similar but maybe cuz it's young?
     
  22. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Don't think so. The margins are serrate instead of smooth.

    It's certainly not a hackberry. Hackberries have much smaller leaves, warty bark, and berries.
     
  23. andyblack

    andyblack Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2015
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    396
    Could it be a redbud tree?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  24. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Definitely not a redbud. I'm quite familiar with redbuds. Unlike redbud, these leaves have serrate margins, lack the colorful blooms, and lack the distinct legume of the redbud.
     
  25. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    So I went through all the species with leaves large enough and I'm pretty confident in it being a form of tilia caroliniana. Mind taking some more pics of the tree just to make sure?
     
    CoolBreeze135 likes this.
  26. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Sure! I'll take some more and post them when I get to my computer at work.
     
  27. JasonB

    JasonB Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    675
    Likes Received:
    198
    Location:
    Holly Springs, Georgia
    What sap do you see? Milky?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  28. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    Very milky. See below shortly.
     
  29. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    If you break off a leaf at the node, you can see the milky sap coming from the white pith.
    20160706_091124.jpg

    Some leaves are quite larger than my hand, which is 8'' from the heel of my palm to my fingertip. This leaf is 10-15'' in length.
    20160706_091149.jpg

    Underside of leaf is "fuzzy" and pale in color.
    20160706_091155.jpg

    Lots of younger shoots branching out of the main trunk.
    20160706_091208.jpg

    Bark on mature growth appears to grow in vertical strips.
    20160706_091247.jpg

    Bark on immature growth is smooth and gray.
    20160706_091308.jpg

    Tree is shorter, at maybe 25-30' max height, but branches out 15-20' wide.
    20160706_092447.jpg

    Some minor variation in leaf shape. Some of the leaves have a more prounounced heart-shaped base, while others are hardly heart-shaped at all.
    20160706_092521.jpg
     
  30. JasonB

    JasonB Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    675
    Likes Received:
    198
    Location:
    Holly Springs, Georgia
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    Alright these are from the Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of the Southern Appalachians

    I really think you've got a red mulberry.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    jasonb40 likes this.
  31. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    JasonB is correct I think. The last round of pictures show it much better. The Milky sap and oval leaf you posted are the best identifiers so far. Lindens do not have milky sap.
     
    JasonB likes this.
  32. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    After the input from @Vanitas and @JasonB, I think that it is a red mulberry. Perhaps I had been thrown off by comparing it to the white mulberries in my yard, and the fact that it is apparently male.
     
    JasonB likes this.
  33. riverjoe

    riverjoe Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,565
    Likes Received:
    2,808
    Location:
    Northern In. On the river
    I was all set to jump on the Basswood Bandwagon till you show that milky sap .some of the basswood in my yard do not bloom .

    I was going to suggest that you peel a small branch. Nothing peels so easily as basswood except maybe slippery Elm .

    Huge leaves are common to shoots in my experience I think it is some kind of compensation for stress .were your huge leaves on the shoots or on the Main tree?
     
    CoolBreeze135 likes this.
  34. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    The shoots had some big leaves, but the really huge ones were on the main tree.
     
    riverjoe likes this.
  35. riverjoe

    riverjoe Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,565
    Likes Received:
    2,808
    Location:
    Northern In. On the river
    That's kind of weird. Around these parts no tree gets bigger leaves then basswood or Catalpa
     
  36. TWill

    TWill Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    1,326
    Likes Received:
    614
    Location:
    central MN west of Twin Cities
    This just doesn't seem to be a mulberry tree to me. The bark looks wrong (to rough and loose) on the mature tree and the smaller branch(specks and not yellowish-more like cherry bark) and while the leaf looks right I never saw such a huge mulberry leaf and I would expect to see the other shapes as well. It's still a mystery to me. There's a lot of variety of trees down in east TN, more than many other places in North America.
     
  37. CoolBreeze135

    CoolBreeze135 Gear Enthusiast, Friction Fire Addict Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,371
    Likes Received:
    6,621
    Location:
    East TN, Smoky Mtns
    I agree with 100 percent of this. The bold is especially true.
     
  38. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    What you are missing is that tree morphology does not always fit the book. Species can be highly variable in appearance. The mulberry in my yard does not have the alternate leaf forms come to think of it.

    As an example, 2 weeks ago it took 2 arborists nearly 40 minutes to confirm a tree was indeed some variety of red ash. Even then the tree couldn't be matched to exactly which variety it was. All this because a selectman wanted to know exactly what the tree was. Specifically it is a hybrid of northern red ash of the "urbanite" variety by best match but there are over a dozen variations. Id'ing yard trees has become a nightmare over the years.

    I also doubt you have any greater number of species as we have up here. I find everything from redwoods to Russian species and everything in between
     
    TWill and CoolBreeze135 like this.
  39. riverjoe

    riverjoe Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,565
    Likes Received:
    2,808
    Location:
    Northern In. On the river
    I wonder if the tree is in some sort of trouble. All the shoots coming out of the trunk and the huge leaves might indicate some sort of insect or fungal infection.

    Unlike others on this forum though I am not a professional arborist just seven decades of observing trees
     
  40. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    You don't need to be. It isn't hard to learn. Some people just choose it as a profession. I've met people who don't do it for a living who could pass the test for certification.
     
    riverjoe likes this.
  41. riverjoe

    riverjoe Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,565
    Likes Received:
    2,808
    Location:
    Northern In. On the river
    I really doubt I could pass any kind of test but I have observed number of Maple and of course all my Ash trees in the hundreds acting weird before they died.
     
  42. TWill

    TWill Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    1,326
    Likes Received:
    614
    Location:
    central MN west of Twin Cities
    I don't have a horse in this race, just giving my take on the pictures. Did someone spit in your coffee this morning?
     
  43. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    Nope, was just explaining why the leaves didn't quite match up and how sometimes that just happens. If you read it as angry or ranting or anything I'm sorry I'm not doing either of those. Actually, I thought it would come off as dry like a college lecture after I reread it.
     
    riverjoe and TWill like this.
  44. TWill

    TWill Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    1,326
    Likes Received:
    614
    Location:
    central MN west of Twin Cities
    ok sorry for taking it as a poke, maybe I better check my own coffee.
     
    riverjoe and CoolBreeze135 like this.
  45. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,338
    Location:
    New England
    Meh, no biggie... all good.
     

Share This Page