Random access identification key covering over 200 species of Washington's deciduous trees, shrubs, and vines - including most of the common species - using characteristics of the twigs, buds, and bark that are visible during the winter, with supplementary characters for leaves and fruits that frequently persist on the plant or on the ground beneath.

To use this key, compare a twig sample against the characteristics given below and then select those characteristics that best match the sample. Click the Show Matches button to view a list of the species that match the selected characteristics. Characteristics are organized into categories, and within each category you can make one or more selections. If you are uncertain which character to select within a category you are better off leaving that category blank.

Bud and leaf arrangement:


Buds and leaves alternate
Buds and leaves opposite
Buds and leaves whorled
Bud tip shape:


Bud tips pointed
Bud tips rounded
Bud scale arrangement:


Scales covering bud imbricate
Scales covering bud valvate
Only a single scale covering entire bud
Bud scales absent
Bud scale pubescence:


Bud scales pubescent or ciliate-margined
Buds scales with glandular or punctate dots or scales
Buds scales glabrous
Bud resin:


Resin present on bud surface
Resin absent from bud surface
Primary Bud color:


Green or yellow
Red or maroon, or strongly tinged with such
Brown or tan
Gray, light or dark
Thorns or spines:


Stems armed with thorns, spines, or prickles
Stems lacking thorns, spines, or prickles
Twig cross-section:

(first year twigs)

Twigs round in cross-section
Twigs square in cross-section
Twigs angled in cross-section
Primary Twig color:

(first year twigs)

Red or maroon, or strongly tinged with such
Brown or tan
Gray, white or black
Twig pith:

(spongy tissue inside twig)

Pith absent, twigs woody throughout
Pith present but not chambered
Pith present and chambered at least in center
Twig pubescence:

(first year twigs)

Twigs pubescent
Glands or puncate dots present on twigs
Twigs entirely glabrous
Vascular bundles on leaf scars:


Bundles not visible
Bundles 1 per leaf scar
Bundles 3 per leaf scar
Bundles > 3 per leaf scar
Bark color:

(main trunk or basal stems)

Red or maroon, or strongly tinged with such
Brown or tan
Gray, light
Bark texture:

(main trunk or basal stems)

Papery and often peeling
Fibrous, in longitudinal strips
Furrowed or fissured


Range in Washington:


Western Washington
Eastern Washington


Forested areas at low-mid elevation
Subalpine/alpine forest, meadow, or rocky slopes
Prairie or rocky bald in Western WA
Sagebrush-steppe, desert, or grassland in Eastern WA
Freshwater wetland, bog, lake, river, or stream
Saltwater beach, marsh, or coastal dunes
Disturbed area: field, roadside, wastelot, town
Leaf type:


Ternately compound
Pinnately compound
Palmately compound
Leaf veins:


Veins not visible
Veins pinnate
Veins palmate
Veins parallel


Catkins or woody cones
Racemes or spikes
Branched clusters
Flowers and fruits solitary
Flowers and strictly paired
Fruit/seed type:


Nut, with hard woody shell
Dry, prominently winged
Dry, not winged
Fruit/seed color:

(when fresh)

Black or dark gray
Brown or tan
Red, orange, or yellow
Blue or purple
Obtaining GPS Position...
Road Map