Characteristics

Characteristics of trees are the significant details and features that allow trees to be recognizable and identifiable. The features used to determine the species of a specific tree are the leaves, flowers, fruit, twigs, and bark.

Leaves are a plant organ specialized for photosynthesis. They contain chloroplasts filled with a green pigment called chlorophyll. The structure of leaves is uniquely adapted to carry out the roles of respiration and transpiration. Leaves come in many different shapes, sizes, bases, margins, venation and surfaces.

Flowers are classified as either being complete or incomplete. A complete flower is one with sepals, petals, stamens, and a pistil. The absence of any one of these parts results in an incomplete flower.

The fruit is the ripened ovary consisting of seeds of a flowering plant. A plant that does not produce fruit is known as acarpous, meaning “without a developing ovule-bearing structure”.

A twig is a small terminal branch section that bears leaves, buds and usually the flowers and fruit of plants. Only dicotyledonous flowering woody plants and most gymnosperms have true twigs; monocotyledons, such as palm and tree ferns do not. A twig’s buds, thickness, color and texture patterning are very important diagnostic characteristics. There are two types of twigs: vegetative twigs and fruiting spurs.

The bark is the outermost protection layer of the tree. It overlays wood and consists of three layers, the cork, phloem, and the vascular cambium. The bark characteristic is useful at anytime of the year and serves as another check of identification on a given specimen.

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