My Tree Journey on Olentangy River Trail

Today I went on a tree hunt along the Olentangy River trail in Columbus Ohio and like Gabriel Popin mentioned in his New York times article I definitely cured myself of tree blindness by stopping and really observing the details and history behind each of the 8 trees I found today instead of just looking and assuming all the trees are just the same with green leaves and bark. As he also mentioned in the article we all need to know info on trees for our everyday lives, such as avoiding eating things from poisonous trees or what wood from which trees are the best for crafting what we need to build. Trees are very important to our everyday lives and I feel as though I have neglected the knowledge of trees until now and I am excited to have this new knowledge of classifying trees and thinking of trees more like pieces of beautiful art in nature. I think that everyone needs to dedicate more time into learning the importance and impact that each tree has on us.

Tree #1

The first tree I found had opposite leaf arrangement and a simple leave complexity and the leaf margin was  lobes. I classified this tree as a Silver maple, Acer saccharinum. Each of the individual leaves have 5 deep lobes creating a v-shape in between and have serrate (toothed) margins.I found this tree in the woods, not far away from the river on the Olentangy trail.  One fact I didn’t know about the silver maple is that this tree may also be used for syrup extract, but is low in sugar content, this tree is also used in some places as a cure for coughs and liver complaints ( 

Silver maple I found along the trail

Deeply lobed leaves

Tree #2

The second tree I found along the trail was opposite in leaf arrangement, had a pinnate compound complexity and entire leaves. I identified this plant to be a honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos. I found it in the woods along the Olentangy River trail and if you look up close there are some painful looking thorns growing on the branches that this plat uses as a form of protection. Something I didn’t know about the honey locust is that the pulp of the tree has a sugary taste, hence the name and also it can be transformed into and used as a biofuel, which is more eco-friendly. (

OUCH it would hurt to accidentally touch one of these thorns

Tree #3

The next tree I came across on my journey,  is a very famous one especially here at Ohio State university, its leaves are oppositely arranged, it has a palmately compound with lightly serrated leaves on the margins. It is the  Ohio buckeye tree, Aesculus glabra.  I found it along the olentangy trail and although I couldn’t get any up close pictures of flowers or buds, but there were little thorns near by. These buckeye nuts are poisonous and are not edible. One thing I did not know is that it was named the buckeye because the shape and color of the nut looks like the eye of a buck. (

Tree #4

This tree I found was alternating leave arrangement, simple leaf complexity and serrated leaf margin kind of in a heart shape. I found it to be classified as a red mulberry tree, Morus rubra. It also had a grey scaly trunk and a few berries higher up on the tree. It kinda resembles redbud leaves except redbud has entire leaves and not serrated. I found it nearer to the water along the river of the Olentangy river trail and these trees usually need moist areas to grow to their full potential. One thing I didn’t know is that the berries on this tree are meals to many animals in the woods and that the heartwood is very durable wood and is used to make many different pieces of furniture.(

– Red mulberry leaves and tree

Tree #5

This next tree I discovered had opposite leaf arrangement, simple leaf complexity and entire leaf margin. It had also white flowers coming out of reddish/pink buds. I classified this tree as a Dogwood tree, Cornus florida.I found this tree in the woods on the Olentangy river trail near by the others. This is among the flowering dogwoods as you can see the white flowers sprouting. One fact that I didn’t know is that the wood from this tree is used to make golf clubs and tools and also most bright colored dyes come from the roots of the dogwood tree. (

Pretty dogwood flowers in the woods:)


Tree #6

This tree I found seemed to be alternating in leaf arrangement, a pinnately compound complexity and leafs with a serrate margin. It also had flower buds higher up. I classified this tree as a bitternut hickory tree, Carya cordiformis because the shaggy bark it has and the flowers budding. I found this tree along the olentangy river while on my hike in the woods.  One thing I did not know about the bitternut hickory tree is that it has extremely strong wood used for axes and it is apart of the pecan grouping.

Bitternut hickory tree new leaves


This tree I found was opposite in leaf arrangement, palmately compound and the leaf margins were serrated. So I was kinda concerned after I looked over this picture because I saw leaves of three ( which typically means BAD, poisonous and basically I thought I just touched poison ivy )but,  I further classified this tree as an Ash leaf Maple tree, Acer negundo. It is three leafed and mirrors poison ivy and is often considered to be an invasive species throughout the world.I found it along the river of the olentangy in the woods along the others. A fact I didn’t know about this tree before is that this tree produces sap that is higher in sugar than a sugar maple. ( I really hope this isn’t just a huge poison ivy vine but, the facts are telling me its widely mistaken so I think I am right).

Ugh it looks SOOO much like poison ivy yikes

Tree #8

The last tree I found on my journey had alternating leaf arrangement, a simple leaf complexity and a lobed leaf margin. I classified this tree as a sycamore tree because  following the guide it did not have a white wooly part underneath so that lead to the question of base of the stem leaf being hollow if you cut it open which it was. I found this tree along the path of the Olentangy river trail near the river. One fact I didn’t know about sycamore trees is Native Americans used it to make canoes and some have a higher resistance to fire than other trees. (

Sycamore tree in its natural habitat




I had a great learning experience and opened my blind eyes to how important it is to be able to identify different trees ( I do not want another almost poison ivy incident, that would not be fun) and I had fun learning about all the uses and history of these amazing trees among us!