The restored forest areas are mostly planted with native hardwoods to re-create the Big Woods habitat that existed in the area originally. This “Big Woods” region has been diminished to only small remnants of what it once was. Twenty species of native hardwoods have been planted, including oaks, maples, ash, walnut, etc.
Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
Leaf Description: Opposite compound on stem, length 8” to 12”. Contains five to nine sharp-pointed leaflets; dark green and smooth above, pale green or whitish beneath.
Distinguishable Traits: Long, winded seeds (samara) that resemble canoe paddles growing in a clump. Bark is greenish-brown on older trees with narrow ridges separated by deep diamond-shaped fissures.
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Leaf description: Very similar to green ash with longer leaflets. Leaves often turn red in autumn.
Distinguishable Traits: Among the last trees to leaf out in the spring.
American Basswood – Tilia americana
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 3” to 6”. Heart shaped, saw toothed with sharp point at top. Turns yellow or orange in autumn.
Distinguishable Traits: Thick crowns cast a deep shade on the ground underneath. Basswood produce small rounded fruits attached in clusters, often have multiple trunks with light gray and smooth bark.
Black Cherry – Prunus serotina
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 2” to 6”. Oval or lance shaped with finely toothed margins. Shiny above, paler below.
Distinguishable Traits: Smaller tree with an irregular crown. Notable drooping clusters of pea-sized cherries.
Choke-cherry – Prunus virginiana
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate leaves that are egg shaped with.
Distinguishable Traits: Grows in multiple stems that are normally 7-16 ft. tall.
American elm – Ulmus americana
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 4” to 6”. Asymmetrical shape, dark green, generally rough above, smooth below. Veins are very pronounced, running in parallel lines from mid rib to edge of leaf.
Distinguishable Traits: Wide, spreading branches that droop at the ends; crown is vase shaped. Dark, ashy gray bark that comes off in flakes. Bark has varying colors in cross section if broken in half.
Slippery Elm – Ulmus rubra
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, asymmetrical shape. Prominent veins on leaf, sandpapery texture both above and below the leaf.
Distinguishable Traits: Leaves are usually larger and wider than those found on American Elm. Twigs and buds are known for their hairiness, as opposed to the smooth American Elms.
Hackberry – Celtis occidentalis
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 2” to 4”. Has long, narrow, tapering points. Uneven at base with prominent veins and hairy on the upper side.
Distinguishable Traits: Limbs are often crooked and angular, with short, bristly stubby twigs. Bark is grayish brown with prominent, short, corky ridges. Holds thin, purplish berries.
Bitternut Hickory – Carya cordiformis
Leaf Description: Alternate compound on stem, length 6” to 10”. Contains 7-11 leaflets that are bright green with finely toothed edges.
Distinguishable Traits: Notable bright yellow winter buds. Leaves are the smallest among the hickory species. Bark is granite-gray, faintly tinged with yellow and broken into thin, plate-like scales.
Ironwood – Ostrya virginiana
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 2” to 4”. Oblong with narrow tip; sharp doubly toothed margins. Dark, dull, yellow-green above and light yellow green below.
Distinguishable Traits: Shorter tree, branches are long and slender, drooping at the ends. Fruit occurs in culsters (catkins) resembling those of the common hop vine.
Boxelder – Acer negundo
Leaf Description: Opposite compound on stem with three leaflets, length 5” to 8”. Smooth with irregularly toothed margins.
Distinguishable Traits: The trunk is rarely strait for any length, often having a leaning and twisted appearance and quickly branching into several major limbs. The fruit (paired samaras) spin like propellers when they fall in autumn.
Red Maple – Acer rubrum
Leaf Description: Simple, opposite on stem, length 2” to 4”. Either three or five pointed saw toothed lobes. Upper surface is light green, lower surface is whitish. The first maples to turn brilliant shades or red, orange and yellow in autumn.
Distinguishable Traits: The shortest of the common maple trees. Seeds consist of two connected red winglets (samaras). Leaves either appear as the classic Canadian flag shape or as a distinct thee lobed leaf.
Silver Maple – Acer saccharinum
Leaf Description: Simple, opposite on stem, length 4” to 6”; three to five points ending in long points with deep angular openings. Pale green on upper surface and silvery underneath. Pale yellow or orange in autumn.
Distinguishable Traits: Long, thin lobed, slivery leaves. Gray bark that peels off in long scales.
Sugar Maple – Acer saccharum
Leaf Description: Simple, opposite on stem, length 3” to 5”; three to five pointed. Dark green on upper surface, lighter green underneath. Turns dark red, scarlet, orange or yellow in autumn.
Distinguishable Traits: Similar to the Red maple’s classic Canadian flag style leaf. Distinct connected green winglets (samaras) containing 2 seeds, easily carried by the wind.
Bur Oak – Quercus macrocarpa
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 6” to 12”. Crowned at end of twigs with deep indentations near base.
Distinguishable Traits: Noticeable crown on end of leaves, gnarled branches covered with corky tissues.
Red Oak – Quercus rubra
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 5” to 9”, divided into seven to nine lobes. Each lobe is coarsely toothed with bristle tips.
Distinguishable Traits: Tall trees with distinguishable oak leaves that have “pointy” lobes. Acorns are abundant on the ground around the tree. Trees contain light gray, shallow fissures in the bark.
White Oak – Quercus alba
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, length 5” to 9”. Leaves are crowded towards ends of twigs, deeply divided into fingerlike lobes with rounded tips. Leaves often remain on tree most of the winter.
Distinguishable Traits: Rounded leaf lobes, grows short in the open or tall and narrow in the forest.
Poplars, Aspens, and Cottonwoods
Cottonwood – Populus deltoids
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem, 3” to 5” long. Broadly triangular, finely toothed or wavy edges. Covered with soft white hairs on underside.
Distinguishable Traits: Notable seeds cotain thin capsules “catskins”, that are set free in late May or June. Enclosed within is a cluster of white cottony hairs that carry the sees long distances.
Quaking Aspen – Populus tremuloides
Leaf Description: Simple, alternate on stem. Small, broadly oval with short point at end and finely toothed along edge. Leaves turn brilliant yellow in autumn.
Distinguishable Traits: Thin, white to gray green bark. Bark can become grayish and warty. Leaves appear to quake or “wave” at you in a very slight breeze.
Black Walnut – Juglans nigra
Leaf Description: Alternate compound on stem, length 12” to 14”. Contains 14-22 yellow green, sharply pointed leaflets, tapered at the ends, smooth above, pale and hairy underneath.
Distinguishable Traits: Large distinct leaves with large rounds nuts in a solid green husk. Bark is thick and very dark brown with deep fissures into rounded ridges.