GLEBE TREES AND SHRUBS
SEASONAL LOG BOOK
As of 2009, I am noting down observations by date. This may be of some use to people who are
trying to identify species at a particular time of year.
MARCH 19, 2009
The bark is shredded, the branches thin and tangled, the buds inconspicuous small brown bits,
and a few very small blue fruit sometimes seen. Some have bits of withered messy grey leaves.
I spent about two hours examining and then trying to identify a shrub that I saw along the north shore
of Brown`s Inlet. The buds were opposite, sometimes circling the branch, filiform and tan-coloured, not
attractive. The branches were sometimes squarish and with warty bumps. The branch itself yellow brown.
I could not find it in any book or on the web. The next day, I took a look at the Forsythia shrub behind
the bench on the path along QE Drive, and saw that that`s what I had been looking at. Going back to Dirr`s
book, the drawing of it was perfectly obvious.
Looking out our living room window at the nannyberry trees there – the trunks tend to make odd sudden
right angle turns which gives the trunks the look of a colt or fawn. The buds are long, grey and apparently
without scales. They look like a long beak, or a drawn-out Q-tip.
The one on the corner of QE Dr and Broadway has examples of the previous year husk. These are globular
While waiting for Kristin`s car to be fixed up on Laperriere Street, I walked in that area. There is a row of
about 8 trees over a block or two. No buds that I could see, dark grey to black bark, cracking. On the
ground, I found a couple of twisted pods. I am pretty sure these are honey locust trees which are described
as having buds that are hidden. There are little stumps that may be aborted shoots. I think the set of
newly-planted small trees along the path by QE DR around Brown`s inlet are also honey locust. They have
the same spare look, with branches tending not to rebranch much, and the lower branches are rather horizontal.
I`ll see when the leaves are out.
Many of these have characteristic remaining stems from their key-clumps. There are 3 or 4 in a set, quite long,
and arc down from the branches. Some Manitoba maple seem to have some remaining keys, but not many. The
buds are fuzzy light grey and fat, looking a bit like early pussy willow.
Some ash have very large numbers of fruit (samaras) still hanging, while most ash don`t. Are they a particular ash?
North shore of Brown`s inlet, these were identified with certainty by the lingering seed-leaf and attached fruit stem.
The trunks were dark grey, smooth, multiple, leaning over the pond. This is a very different appearance to the
mature lindens which have about the deepest grooved bark of all.
MARCH 21, 2009
I spent two hours walking at Brown`s Inlet and along QE Drive to Fifth Avenue.
From the water side, the willow and other trees like Manitoba Maple look quite similar, leaning over the
pond with their multiple trunks. Seaton`s book mentions that crack willow can be recognized by the debris
lying beneath them. The branches crack easily in a windstorm. And indeed, the two or three willows there
have a litter of branches and twigs beneath them on the snow, whereas it is clean under other trees. This
is especially easy to see with the snow there instead of water.
He mentions as well that the willows can have some of the largest trunk diameters. It seems to be true at
Brown`s Inlet, where the lowest portion is very big around, quickly becoming multiple smaller trunks.
As notes through the last week, the willow buds are just like elegant fingernails. They are quite characteristic
and a good identifying sign.
Red Osier Dogwood
I took photographs that show starkly how a shoot can switch from grey to red along its length with a
clear demarcation. Any clump of these will have red or grey or both.
Further along on QE Drive getting close to Fifth Ave, there is a clump of red osier dogwood, and then
two identical clumps which are completely yellow. The buds look the same on both. Are the yellow
also red osier?
It looks to me like the bark of red maple can take two forms, depending on the age of the tree.
The bark I recognize as red maple is a very dark grey, almost black, smooth but with long vertical
cracks. However, I also see many light-grey smooth trees which appear to be red maple. The
same red-brown and red buds, modest are on both. One tree seemed to show the transition from
grey to cracked blackish. I am not sure but think it`s the same tree. There are many along the
Landsdowne Park side of QE Drive. I`ll watch for the flowers and leaves.
There are a lot of red maple keys on the ground from last year. They are small, often orange-red,
and look like a bird, or a pregnant woman.
Red oak and bur oak
Seaton says most of the sharp-lobed oak here are red oak. I think that is northern red oak.
They seem to be the ones that keep some dead leaves on the tree all winter. The buds stick
out from the branches, unlike the bur oak buds which twist a little and point back to their branch.
The red oak don`t seem to have the Halloween look that the bur oak do.
On QE Dr just near the Greek embassy is an oak just about fully clad in last-year`s leaves.
This is probably an English oak, since there seem to be earlobes at the base of the leaf.
One web source says there is a cultivar called Fastigiata which keeps its leaves into the
winter. Many oak species can do this.
Green ash and white ash
Separating these two is still difficult. The leaf scar of white ash is indented at the top,
making a smiley face. But sometimes I see this and then not, on the same tree. The
fruit may be a better differentiator, lying on the ground. The green ash nutlets seem be
more enwrapped by the wing, and many have a notch at the paddle end. White ash doesn`t
surround the nutlet as much and there is no notch. The diamonds on white ash bark may
be more prominent at the base than on green ash.
Although the books don`t seem to say so, ash seem to have an S form to their lower branches.
These initially rise, curve downward and then curve up at the tip.
One green ash I saw had green lichen all over it.
The bark of many crab apples has a harlequin appearance. There are also a couple of trees
along QE Drive which are a deep bronze colour and smooth. They are young trees, and
have apple-like fruit still hanging there. I am almost certain these are younger crab apples.
There are older ones further along near the benches and semicircle, which show features
of both. Branches of crab apple show nubbins, like aborted shoots.
They show no sign of spring life but are often clothed in last year`s keys which are a grey
colour now. They are the trees most covered in old fruit.
The trunks can be difficult to pick out as Amur maple. They have that typical fairly smooth
look of young maple, with striations. A couple of clues may be: the trunks in each clump
seem to wind their way around each other to some extent as they exit. Also, many trunks
show a vague black staining, while others have whitish patches as if depigmented.
These continue to be the only tree I see whose flower buds are swollen and prominent.
These are brown red balls on the sides of branches very visible when looking up at even
a tall tree. The bark of young silver maple show the cracking that will eventually become
the shreddy mature bark. The branches of these young trees come off the trunk at an
almost artificial angle, horizontal and then up, like a kids drawing.
I am not sure about this but there is a common tree that has modest opposite buds,
not much sign of developing soon, that has remnant stems of fruit, in several sets of three or so.
These are not very long. I think this is Norway maple. The buds are sticky with sap.
There seem to be three kinds of lilac in the Glebe. Common lilac is a small tree or tall
shrub, growing in clumps, often near honeysuckle in this area. The trunks are a yellow
brown and smoother than the shredded bark of honeysuckle. There is also Japanese
lilac, and then a miniature lilac which is like a hedge plant, that I am calling little leaf lilac.
All show the old husks of the previous year fruit. These are bivalve and have a septum. The
Japanese lilac husks are bigger than common lilac and have bumps on them.
European buckthorn and glossy buckthorn
I have had some trouble differentiating this from glossy buckthorn. There is a good example
of European buckthorn near the huge cottonwood trees on Ralph. They are young, the bark
is red-brown with prominent lenticels, looking a bit like a birch. I found and tested one obvious
thorn. The buds are those small, black, opposite ones which look like bat droppings, closely
appressed to the branch.
The trunk`s appearance is very different from the steel grey that is somewhat shiny in the
sunlight, sometimes peeling, as seen along Echo Dr near Bank, and maybe at Brown`s Inlet.
Check if this is an age question, or is the latter glossy buckthorn?
On QE Drive along Landsdowne Park there are several tall soaring trees with bark that
reminds of birch but is white-grey, and smooth. There are 4 possibilities, I think: poplar,
cottonwood, trembling aspen, and large-toothed aspen. Poplar have distinctly dark green
triangular leaves. Trembling aspen are on long flattened stalks and are heart-shaped.
Large-toothed aspen have edges like a postage stamp. Cottonwood are triangular leaves.
Check all this.
In this case, a broken branch was lying in the snow and the leaves were about to come out.
The branch was heavily ridged, and the leaf scars were big plates, arranged like steps
around the branch. I think these are aspen but not sure.
At Fifth and Lyon there are several. The brown buds are thin claw-like that definitely
twist back toward the branch.
What`s on the ground
Leaves that have stayed in good shape are red oak.
Fruit: red maple keys, which are reddish, small and look like a pregnant woman in
profile or a little bird; ash paddles, apparently green and white
For opposite trees and shrubs, so far I have this:
Trees (4) = MACH (maple, ash, catalpa, horse chestnut)
Small trees (4) = LBEN (little Ben) (lilac, buckthorn, elderberry, nannyberry)
Shrubs (11) = FuMBLE SHRuB-W (forsythia, mock-orange, buckthorns,
lilac, euonymus, snowberry, honeysuckle, red osier dogwood, beauty bush, wild raisin
MARCH 27, 2009
Carol McLeod lent me the city's list of trees by address. There were some interesting surprises.
I had thought the common cherry trees in the Glebe might be a variety of chokecherry. They are
listed there as purpleleaf cherry, prunus cistena. This puzzled me, since that is normally a shrub and
there are examples in the Glebe. I think the answer to this is the variety of P cistena called 'Cis'. This
is normally tree size.
I noted that there are many more sugar maple than I was aware of. I had been misidentifying sugar
maples as perhaps Norway or red. Trying to tell these apart in March is difficult. This is what I have
so far come up with to separate the maples at this time of year, ignoring the bark.
Norway maple have fairly robust buds, and the stems from last year's keys seem quite characteristic
and common. They are in bunches of 10 or so, each bunch grouped into three or four. They are angular.
Sugar maple have similar stems, fewer of them, and they seem to be in smaller clusters, and not as
angular. The buds are less prominent. The terminal bud is said to be pointy, not rounded but I haven't
checked that out.
Silver maple have the big pompom flower buds.
Red maple have redder, smallish buds, and can have more modest pompom flower buds.
Manitoba maple's buds are grey, like pussy willows. The key stems are veryu long and hang
down arching like tufts of hair. Because these trees are usually one sex only, trees either have
many such tufts or none at all.
Regarding ash, it looks to me like ash which have a lot of old leaves on them are usually black ash.
About buckthorn, I was diligently looking for thorns to differentiate European from glossy. But I
see that the buds are very different. The thin black longish buds that hold close to the twig which
are prominent in the Glebe, are European buckthorn.
MARCH 29, 2009
I was in Montreal today. The street my daughter and her family live on is lined almost entirely by ash.
The emerald ash borer will be a disaster for streets like that.
THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2009
A warm, sunny day.
Elm: Slippery elm at Brown's inlet: the flower buds are very different from the leaf buds. They are fat,
globular, slightly flattened. They look like abnormal growths when seen from a distance. The leaf
buds are small, somewhat pointy, mostly erect, not really divergent.
White elm: there are still several on Clemow, rather small. The terminal bud can be tilted, though not
always. The buds are densely arranged alternately. The flower bud is also more globular.
Siberian elm buds are quite different, like ticks.
On Clemow, a mountain ash according to the city list. I am quite sure this is a European mountain
ash. The bud is very hairy. There are still some old fruit.
Cottonwood: at Patterson creek, on the south side, a tall grey multi-trunked tree which I think is a
young cottonwood. It has nothing of the deep furrows of the mature ones. The colour is silver grey
with horizontal lenticels that look like Morse code. The buds are big.
A little further north along QE Drive, there is a tree I cannot identify. Many leaves are still on it, bronze
in colour, wavy margins, elliptical, no teeth, alternate. European beech?
The maple continue to be difficult to differentiate without leaves. At this point:
Norway maple: chunky buds, brown more than red, with typical remaining stems from keys.
Sugar maple: very small buds, pointy.
Red maple: moderate size buds, red.
Silver maple: pompoms
Ash: I heard today that the city foresters no longer differentiate red and green ash. There are intermediate
forms, making it too difficult to separate them.
SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2009
Little leaf linden: there are a row of them on Fifth Avenue by the Mutchmor school fence. Maybe because
it was raining, the bark was noticeable. The younger bark was brown with bright white linear streaks that
look like tracks of falling tears. On somewhat older bark, these became wavy linear striations, still whitish.
On the oldest bark, these developed into the deep narrow crevices that some linden have, almost knife-cuts.
The buds remain chunky, tan, with few scales.
Manitoba maple: these have only one sex per tree. At Brown's inlet, at Ralph, there are examples of both.
The female (seed) trees have a few remnant keys, and many remnant key stems, arching like hair. The light
grey buds are small. Other trees have no keys or key stems but have the typical furry mouse buds.
This is the first day I see the silver maple buds flowering. The several silver maple on the QE path along
Brown's inlet are easy to check up close. As far as I can see, the first of these (westernmost), has no flowers
of any kind, while all the rest (about 4), have only pollen flowers. It is possible that there are seed flowers
in the same cluster, and that I don't see them because everything is smudged by the rain. But if that is
not the case, maybe these trees are one sex per tree. There are a couple of silver maple leaves hanging
from last year.
This would be a good time to differentiate red and silver maple, since silver are flowering. Unless there are
separate silver maple trees which bear only seed flowers, that are less conspicuous or not out yet.
SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2009
I tried again to differentiate the tall maples - silver, red, Norway, sugar, Manitoba - from a distance. The scheme
I came up with is this: if there are big prominent flower buds visible from a distance, the tree is silver or red, or
occasionally Manitoba maple buds can be big enough to look like red on a cloudy day like today.
The silver are the biggest, now flowering. Manitoba maple are scraggly trees that often lean. If there are no big
chunky flower buds, but buds are thick and noticeable up close, especially terminal buds, it is Norway maple
If the buds are very small and pointy up close, it is sugar maple.
Ash: I'm having trouble identifying black ash. The trees with many old samaras hanging, and looping U-branches
seem to be black ash. The samaras have wings that extend just about to the base of the seedcase. But I don't
see the separation between terminal bud and adjacent lateral buds that is supposed to be there.
Silver maple: 80% of them along the QE path/Brown's inlet, are in flower. All pollen flowers that I can see.
There are some flower buds on these trees that haven't opened at all. Are they late or are they seed flowers?
Nannyberry: the long tapering buds may be showing signs of opening.
SUNDAY, APRIL 12, 2009
Silver maple: the red pompoms are now yellowish as they have flowered.
I have been working on an addition to the website - seasonal identification, starting
with this late winter-early spring season.
Bark of mature maple can be difficult to differentiate. Checking the bark of high, younger branches
can be useful. These look like the bark of the younger trees, which can be more specific to the
species of maple.
FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009
The same silver maple on QE Drive along Brown's inlet are now showing both male and female
flowers. These appear on the same cluster.
TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2009
Leaves have appeared for many species now. Oak and honey locust are still not leafing.
Ash is just beginning.
Maples: Manitoba maple has been flowering for about a week and leaves are appearing.
Silver maple flowers are done, and all over the street. It may be that their leaves are just
appearing. Red maple flowers seem to be reaching a late stage. Norway maple flowers are
just blooming now.
Honeysuckle leaves are half out, as are lilac.
Buckthorn buds are just sprouting, and pea-tree a little further ahead than that.
Willow and weeping willow leaves are sprouting. Purple sand cherry seem to be showing
both the earliest flower and sprouting leaves.
Slippery elm and Siberian elm already are showing samaras. They must be the first trees
to do so.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2009
Norway maple are now very easy to identify from the bright yellow flowers that are
profuse. Some trees have none at all, and I wonder if these are Crimson kings, for
example. Or just late bloomers.
Bur oak leaves are starting to show. Linden still seems quiescent.
Nannyberry leaves are just beginning.
Red maple keys are already forming.
Sugar maple is doing little.
Cottonwood catkins are all over the ground and have been for a few days at least.