Tree identification: not my strong point

We just acquired these Audubon field guides (thanks to an Christmas gift card from my mum) to help us identify the birds and trees at and around the Manse. I think I’d better start studying the one on the right sooner rather than later.

Okay, before we go any further, I must (with some chagrin) correct myself. Faithful readers might recall that a few days ago I did a post about a big old maple tree in the back yard of the Manse that had gone from looking like “The Tree of Death” (as Raymond christened it in the very early spring) to a gloriously verdant very-much-alive (though still very old) thing. I said in the post that I think the tree looks like an old lady all dressed up and dancing, having the time of her life.

I still think that. But I stand corrected on one thing: that tree is not, repeat not, a maple.

I wrote the post in Montreal, relying on this photo and my memory (and assumptions, evidently). When we were back in Queensborough this past weekend, one of the first things Raymond did on a very sunny and beautiful Saturday morning was lead me round to the back yard and point out close up the error of my ways vis-à-vis what kind of tree the Old Dancing Lady is.

Not that either of us has figured out what it actually is, you understand – just that it’s not a maple.

I will have to start studying our new Audubon Field Guide to Trees. Either that or go the easy route and just ask someone who knows. Ed, are you listening?

9 thoughts on “Tree identification: not my strong point

    • I will do so, Vicki! Does this mean you can help us figure it out? I feel like such a dolt, but all help much appreciated. Won’t be in a position to take close-up photos for a while, but will do as soon as I can. And I eagerly await the verdict of those far more knowledgeable about trees than I. Like, I suspect, you!

  1. It’s a ‘Manitoba Maple’ – that’s what we always called them. Oversized weed. Probably a more corrcet name out there.

    • I don’t think it is a Manitoba maple. Don’t that tree’s (weed’s) leaves still look more or less like maple leaves? Whereas the Old Lady’s leaves don’t at all.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Ok, yesterday, in full view of the McNeils [who were trimming the easternmost portion of their yard], I brazenly, and with unmitigated gall, traipsed [read TRESPASSED] across the yard of the Manse and procured [read STOLE] a sprig for identification. The sprig pattern [a pinnate compound of 7 leaves with each sprig coming off a stem in a bilateral pattern] and leaf shape match exactly those on my Manitoba Maples. As further evidence, the broken-off trunk, a common feature among older MMs, also matches one of mine. Finally, your tree has an abundance of suckers around the base, another MM trait.

    I then consulted my copy of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees [1988 printing]. The sprig & leaf pattern matches that of the Acer negundo L. [in common parlance, the “Boxelder” aka “Ashleaf Maple” aka “Manitoba Maple”] on page 572. [Interestingly, the description indicates that one can extract sugar from the sap.] A matching picture of the leaves is image # 335. Of course, it is too early in the year to see the seeds that are depicted in image # 494.

    So, in conclusion, it is a Manitoba Maple, a weed tree that never seems to die….

    • Well, Tree Inspector Gough, if that isn’t the definitive answer, I don’t know what is! That is some serious research you have done, and I thank you for it. Sadly, it allows my brother John to lord it over me because he was right and I was wrong, but I suppose all that ultimately is of concern is getting at the truth of the matter. Which you have done! And don’t ever worry about “trespassing” at the Manse; you and your dad are hereby named Honorary Life Members of the Friends of the Manse Club, and may visit the property whenever you wish. In thanks and remembrance of much past (and present) friendship and fun.

  3. Graham is right. Wickipedia has photos that match the leaves. The reason several of us mistook it for an ash is that the leaves are more ash-like than maple. It’s all explained in the Wicki posting. In the U.S. It’s often called a maple ash. This means our other two “ash” trees are probably Manitoba maples, too. To be confirmed on our next visit. It also means the big maple tree in front of our Outremont home, which we thought was a Manitoba maple, definitely isn’t.

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