Guide to Deciduous Trees and Shrubs of Northwestern Oregon and Western Washington

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Winter Twig Key to Deciduous Trees, Shrubs & Vines

(Adapted from Winter Twigs: A Wintertime Guide to Deciduous Trees and Shrubs of Northwestern Oregon and Western Washington by Helen Margaret Gilkey and Patricia L. Packard, 2001.)

Note re superscript designations:

= Introduced in lower 48 states

§ = Native and introduced in lower 48 states
1a Leaf scars alternate

2a Buds naked

3a Leaf scars broadly V- to U-shaped; bundle scars 5 Toxicodendron diversilobum

3b Leaf scars rounded; bundle scars 3 Frangula purshiana (=Rhamnus purshiana)

2b Buds scaled

4a At least the flower buds short-stalked; or if buds not stalked, the pith continuous, very minute, and 3-angled in cross-section; pith dense

5a Pith round in cross-section CEANOTHUS

6a Bud scales narrow, largely exposing the densely pubescent leaf rudiments C. integerrimus

6b Bud scales broad, completely covering the leaf rudiments C. sanguineus

5b Pith 3-armed or 3-angled in cross section

7a Fruiting structures woody, cone-like, persisting through the winter; buds conspicuously stalked ALNUS

8a Buds mostly dull red; next season's catkins present during the winter on the preceding year's growth; peduncles shorter than the "cones"; bark smooth, gray

9a Old leaves with revolute margins A. rubra

9b Old leaves with plain margins A. rhombifolia

8b Buds dull purple; next season's catkins appearing with the leaves on the spring growth; peduncles longer than the "cones"; bark scaly, brown A. viridis ssp. sinuata

7b Fruiting structures not woody or cone-like, and not persisting through the winter; buds not conspicuously stalked BETULA

10a Large tree; the bark peeling in papery sheets Betula papyrifera

10b Shrub, 3 to 12 ft. tall; bark not peeling in papery sheets B. pumila

4b The buds not stalked; or, if short-stalked, pith coarsely spongy on drying, and neither very minute nor 3-angled in cross section

11a Lowermost (or the single) bud scale directly over the leaf scar

12a Bud scale single, sac-like SALIX

12b Bud scales several, not sac-like POPULUS

13a Buds over ½ in., resinous and fragrant P. balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa

13b Buds under ½ in., averaging ¼ in., scarcely resinous P. tremuloides

11b Lowermost bud scale lateral over leaf scar

14a Buds globose, sessile, often appearing 2-ranked on horizontal branches; scales papery,

brown Corylus cornuta var. californica

14b Buds not as above, and never appearing 2-ranked

15a Bundle scars more than 7

16a Shrub, densely spiny; bundle scars in a single series Oplopanax horridus

16b Tree, or rarely shrubby; bundle scars obscure, grouped QUERCUS

17a Bud scales glabrate Q. kelloggii

17b Bud scales downy Q. garryana

15b Bundle scars 7 or fewer, sometimes indistinguishable on shriveled leaf scars

18a Bundle scar 1

19a Bark of older twigs exfoliating in long thread-like shreds

20a Leaf scar often torn, the bundle scar projecting; twigs glabrous Elliottia pyroliflora

(=Cladothamnus pyroliflorus)

20b Leaf scar clean, bundle scar flush with surface; twigs minutely tomentose, and with scattered stalked glands Menziesia ferruginea

19b Bark of older twigs not long-shreddy but, in Spiraea, sometimes exfoliating by thin plates

21a Leaf scars not sharply triangular, slightly raised VACCINIUM

22a Twigs sharply winged or angled

23a Stems winged

24a Buds pointed, their tips diverging; shrub 4 to 12 ft.; coastal, or at low altitudes in the Coast Range and Cascade mountains V. parvifolium

24b Buds appressed; shrub 1/3 to 1-1/3 ft., diffusely branched; medium to high altitudes in the Cascade Mountains V. scoparium

23b Stems sharply angled, at least when young, but scarcely winged

25a Slender shrub, 1 to 4 ft. tall; at low altitudes in the Coast Range and Cascade Mountains; dead tip of stem above the uppermost bud continuing in direction of axis, thus distinctly terminal V. ovalifolium

25b Spreading shrub, 1-1/2 to 6 ft.; at medium altitudes in the Cascade Mountains; dead tip of stem above the uppermost bud diverging from the axis, thus appearing lateral

V. membranaceum

22b Twigs angled or not, never sharply so

26a Stems not angled; bark shreddy; shrubs of coastal and mountain bogs V. uliginosum

26b Stems more or less angled; shrubs low, rigid

27a Buds plump, divergent, with several exposed scales V. uliginosum (=V. occidentale)

27b Buds flattened, appressed, with only 2 exposed scales

28a Twigs smooth; stems conspicuously, but not sharply, angled below the buds

V. deliciosum

28b Twigs sometimes minutely pubescent; stems obscurely angled below the buds

V. cespitosum

21b Leaf scars sharply triangular, not raised SPIRAEA

29a Buds, and usually twigs, puberulous S. douglasii

29b Buds, and usually twigs, glabrous

30a Stems unbranched above the ground S. betulifolia var. lucida

30b Stems freely branching S. splendens (=S. densiflora)

18b Bundle scars more than 1

31a Pith solid or lamellate, not coarsely spongy

32a Bundle scars 5

33a Leaf scars ragged; bark shreddy Physocarpus capitatus

33b Leaf scars not ragged; bark not shreddy Sorbus sitchensis var. grayi

32b Bundle scars 3, through sometimes obscure

34a Leaf scars shriveled, on greatly raised persistent petiole bases RUBUS

35a Stems armed with spines or prickles

36a Shrubs with weak thickened prickles R. spectabilis

36b Brambles and vines with well-developed, though sometimes small, prickles

37a Stems cylindrical or nearly so

38a Prostrate and creeping or climbing; scarcely glaucous

39a Stems 1 to 4 ft. long; rare except in deep woods R. nivalis

39b Stems reading 12 to 18 ft.; common in open woods and thickets and along streams R. ursinus

38b Erect or trailing; conspicuously blue-glaucous R. leucodermis

37b Stems angled or fluted

40a Twigs fluted, maroon R. armeniacus

40b Twigs merely angled, green or dull red R. lacinatus

35b Stems unarmed with spines or prickles

41a Stalks stout and upright R. parviflorus

41b Stalks cordlike and trailing

42a Bud scales pubescent R. lasiococcus

42b Bud scales glabrous except for ciliate margins R. pedatus

34b Leaf scars clean and visible; petiole bases deciduous but sometimes leaving a slight ridge

43a Scars (from leaf) linear; bundle scars sometimes obscure ROSA

44a Calyx lobes deciduous or partly so

45a Fruit small, pear-shaped to globose, without a neck; prickles strait, needle-like, or absent; calyx lobes completely deciduous R. gymnocarpa

45b Fruits long urn-shaped, contracted into a neck; prickles stout, recurved; calyx lobes often only partially deciduous R. eglanteria

44b Calyx lobes persistent

46a Fruit usually borne singly; not contracted into a neck R. nutkana var. nutkana

46b Fruit usually borne in corymbs

47a Heavy prickles absent; needle-like prickles absent or present, sometimes densely so at base R. pisocarpa

47b Heavy and needle-like prickles present R. nutkana var. nutkana

43b Scars (from leaf) broader than linear; bundle scars obvious

48a Bud scales densely pubescent

49a Bark shreddy Holodiscus discolor

49b Bark not shreddy Malus X domestica

48b Bud scales essentially glabrous

50a Lowermost bud scales distinctly swollen, fleshy at the base

51a Bud scales not keeled; buds globose or nearly so Crataegus douglasii

51b Bud scales, at least the lower, keeled; buds not globose

52a Stipule scars present, linear, sometimes inconspicuous PRUNUS

53a Buds ovoid, ¼ to 3/8 in. long; twigs of moderate thickness P. virginiana var. demissa

53b Buds narrow, conical, averaging 3/16 in. long; twigs slender P. emarginata

52b Stipule scars absent Malus fusca

50b Lowermost bud scales not swollen at the base

54a Pith lamellate Oemleria cerasiformis

54b Pith continuous Amelanchier alnifolia

31b Pith with sponge-like cavities, at least when dry1 RIBES

55a Stems armed with stout or slender prickles

56a Nodal prickles weak and many R. lacustre

56b Nodal prickles 1 to 3

57a Tip of twig glandular-pubescent; nodal prickles mostly 3-forked

58a Prickles at nodes slender; internodal prickles typically absent on older

stems R. lobbii

58b Prickles at nodes stout; internodal prickles usually present R. menziesii

57b Tip of twig not glandular-pubescent; nodal prickles single, or with rudimentary

laterals R. divaricatum

55b Stems unarmed with prickles

59a Leaf scars large and broad, covered by a membrane R. bracteosum

59b Leaf scars narrow

60a Margins of inner bud scales ciliate, not glandular R. laxiflorum

60b Margins of inner bud scales glandular and sometimes ciliate

61a Buds reaching ¼ to ½ in.; shrubs erect, reading 5 to 8 ft.

62a Growing west of the Cascade Mountains R. sanguineum

62b Growing at medium altitudes in the Cascade Mountains R. acerifolium

61b Buds less than ¼ in.; low shrub, widely branching 3-1/2 ft. or less tall R. cereum

1b Leaf scars opposite* (*In Fraxinus, one bud of a pair sometimes slightly higher than the other.)

Note: If buds naked, golden/copper colored; stems rough with rusty colored spots2 (leaves lance-shaped, 4-7 mm; leaf scar with one vascular bundle scar) Shepherdia canadensis§

Or: Buds scaled continue to 63

63a Vines, climbing by twining petioles and petiolules; pith somewhat obscurely 12-angled Clematis ligusticifolia

63b Trees or shrubs; or, if vines, pith rounded, hollow

64a Leaf scars covered by a membrane3

65a Bundle scars 3 Philadelphus lewisii

65b Bundle scars many, in a U line Fraxinus latifolia

64b Leaf scars not covered by a membrane4

66a Scars raised on persistent petiole bases and obscured by corky growths

67a Exposed bud scales 6 to 8; buds not conspicuously flattened SYMPHORICARPOS

68a Erect shrub; twigs glabrous S. albus

68b Low spreading shrub; young twigs pubescent S. hesperius (=S. mollis)

67b Exposed bud scales about 4 LONICERA

69a Pith solid; erect or spreading shrubs

70a Erect shrub; common at the coast and on low mountains L. involucrata

70b Spreading shrub; in our area, found only at high altitudes L. utahensis

69b Pith hollow; vines or shrubs; buds 4-angled, divergent

71a Twigs glabrous L. ciliosa

71b Twigs pubescent, at least at nodes L. hispidula

66b Scars not greatly raised; petiole bases not persistent, though a ridge sometimes remaining

72a Bundle scar 1 Euonymus occidentalis

72b Bundle scars more than 1

73a Pair of leaf scars meeting around stem [may not actually touch each other] in an ascending curve or point ACER

74a Exposed bud scales 2 A. glabrum var. douglasii

74b Exposed bud scales more than 2

75a Terminal bud usually absent; buds subtended by long white hairs A. circinatum

75b Terminal bud usually present; buds not subtended by hairs A. macrophyllum

73b Pair of leaf scars meeting around stem in a straight line, or a descending curve or point, or rarely not meeting

76a Bundle scars generally 5 or 7 (rarely 3); twigs stout, with large leaf scars SAMBUCUS

77a Buds diverging; upper margin of leaf scar notched S. nigra§ (=S. mexicana)

77b Bud appressed; upper margin of leaf scar entire S. racemosa var. racemosa

(=S. racemosa var. arborescens)

76b Bundle scars 3; twigs slender; leaf scars narrow

78a Scales of terminal bud more or less persistent; pubescence, when present, consisting of appressed or reflexed hairs, attached by one end VIBURNUM

79a Exposed bud scales 4 to 6 V. ellipticum

79b Exposed bud scales 2 V. edule

78b Scales of terminal bud deciduous; pubescence of twigs consisting, at least in part, of slender appressed hairs attached by their centers CORNUS

80a Twigs dull reddish, with predominately gray overcoating; flower buds large, button-like, naked during most of the winter C. nuttallii

80b Twigs deep lustrous red; flower buds not as described above C. sericea

Species List (Gilkey & Packard)

Acer circinatum

Acer glabrum var. douglasii

Acer macrophyllum

Alnus rhombifolia

Alnus rubra

Amelanchier alnifolia

Betula papyrifera

Betula pumila

Ceanothus integerrimus

Ceanothus sanguineus

Cladothamnus pyroliflorus

Clematis ligusticifolia

Cornus nuttallii

Cornus sericea

Corylus cornuta

Crataegus douglasii

Euonymus occidentalis

Fraxinus latifolia

Holodiscus discolor

Lonicera ciliosa

Lonicera hispidula

Lonicera involucrata

Lonicera utahensis

Malus fusca

Malus X domestica

Menziesia ferruginea

Oemleria cerasiformis

Oplopanax horridus

Philadelphus lewisii

Physocarpus capitatus

Populus tremuloides

Populus trichocarpa

Prunus emarginata

Prunus virginiana var. demissa

Quercus garryana

Quercus kelloggii

Rhamnus purshiana

Ribes acerifolium

Ribes bracteosum

Ribes cerceum

Ribes divaricatum

Ribes lacustre

Ribes laxiflorum

Ribes lobbii

Ribes menziesii

Ribes sanguineum

Rosa eglanteria

Rosa gymnocarpa

Rosa nutkana var. nutkana

Rosa pisocarpa

Rubus armeniacus

Rubus laciniatus

Rubus lasiococcus

Rubus leucodermis

Rubus nivalis

Rubus parviflorus

Rubus pedatus

Rubus spectabilis

Rubus ursinus


Sambucus mexicana

Sambucus racemosa var. arborescens

Sorbus sitchensis var. grayi

Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida

Spiraea densiflora

Spiraea douglasii

Symphoricarpos albus

Symphoricarpos mollis

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Vaccinium ceaspitosum

Vaccinium deliciosum

Vaccinium occidentale

Vaccinium ovalifolium

Vaccinium parvifolium

Vaccinium scoparium

Vaccinium uliginosum

Viburnum edule

Viburnum ellipticum

Species List (PLANTS Database)

Acer circinatum Pursh – vine maple

Acer glabrum Torr. var. douglasii (Hook.) Dippel – Douglas maple

Acer macrophyllum Pursh – bigleaf maple

Alnus rhombifolia Nutt. – white alder

Alnus rubra Bong. – red alder

Alnus viridis (Chaix) DC. ssp. sinuata (Regel) A. Löve & D. Löve – Sitka alder

Amelanchier alnifolia (Nutt.) Nutt. ex M. Roem. – Saskatoon serviceberry

Betula papyrifera Marsh. – paper birch

Betula pumila L. – bog birch

Ceanothus integerrimus Hook. & Arn. – deerbrush

Ceanothus sanguineus Pursh – redstem ceanothus

Clematis ligusticifolia Nutt. – western white clematis

Cornus nuttallii Audubon ex Torr. & A. Gray – Pacific dogwood

Cornus sericea L. ssp. sericea – redosier dogwood

Corylus cornuta Marsh. var. californica (A. DC.) Sharp – California hazelnut

Crataegus douglasii Lindl. – black hawthorn

Elliottia pyroliflora (Bong.) S.W. Brim & P.F. Stevens – copperbush [syn. Cladothamnus pyroliflorus]

Euonymus occidentalis Nutt. ex Torr. – western burning bush

Frangula purshiana (DC.) Cooper – Cascara buckthorn

Fraxinus latifolia Benth. – Oregon ash

Holodiscus discolor (Pursh) Maxim. – oceanspray

Lonicera ciliosa (Pursh) Poir. ex DC. – orange honeysuckle

Lonicera hispidula (Lindl.) Douglas ex Torr. & A. Gray – pink honeysuckle

Lonicera involucrata (Richardson) Banks ex Spreng. – twinberry honeysuckle

Lonicera utahensis S. Watson – Utah honeysuckle

Malus fusca (Raf.) C.K. Schneid. – Oregon crab apple

Malus X domestica – domestic apple [Malus pumila Mill. – paradise apple]

Menziesia ferruginea Sm. – rusty menziesia

Oemleria cerasiformis (Torr. & A. Gray ex Hook. & Arn.) Landon – Indian plum

Oplopanax horridus (Sm.) Miq. – devilsclub

Philadelphus lewisii Pursh – Lewis' mock orange

Physocarpus capitatus (Pursh) Kuntze – Pacific ninebark

Populus balsamifera L. ssp. trichocarpa (Torr. & A. Gray ex Hook.) Brayshaw – black cottonwood

Populus tremuloides Michx. – quaking aspen

Prunus emarginata (Douglas ex Hook.) D. Dietr. – bitter cherry

Prunus virginiana L. var. demissa (Nutt.) Torr. – western chokecherry

Quercus garryana Douglas ex Hook. – Oregon white oak

Quercus kelloggii Newberry – California black oak

Ribes acerifolium Howell – mapleleaf currant

Ribes bracteosum Douglas ex Hook. – stink currant

Ribes cereum Douglas – wax currant

Ribes divaricatum Douglas – spreading gooseberry

Ribes lacustre (Pers.) Poir. – prickly currant

Ribes laxiflorum Pursh – trailing black currant

Ribes lobbii A. Gray – gummy gooseberry

Ribes menziesii Pursh – canyon gooseberry [Oregon, not Washington or Idaho]

Ribes sanguineum Pursh – redflower currant

Rosa eglanteria L. – sweetbriar rose

Rosa gymnocarpa Nutt. – dwarf rose

Rosa nutkana C. Presl var. nutkana – Nootka rose

Rosa pisocarpa A. Gray – cluster rose

Rubus armeniacus Focke – Himalayan blackberry†

Rubus laciniatus Willd. – cutleaf blackberry

Rubus lasiococcus A. Gray – roughfruit berry

Rubus leucodermis Douglas ex Torr. & A. Gray – whitebark raspberry

Rubus nivalis Douglas ex Hook. – snow raspberry

Rubus parviflorus Nutt. – thimbleberry

Rubus pedatus Sm. – strawberryleaf raspberry

Rubus spectabilis Pursh – salmonberry

Rubus ursinus Cham. & Schltdl. – California blackberry

Sambucus nigra L. – black elderberry§

Sambucus racemosa L. var. racemosa – red elderberry

Sorbus sitchensis M. Roem. var. grayi (Wenzig) C.L. Hitchc. – western mountain ash

Spiraea betulifolia Pall. var. lucida (Douglas ex Greene) C.L. Hitchc. – shinyleaf spirea

Spiraea douglasii Hook. – rose spirea

Spiraea splendens Baumann ex K. Koch var. splendens – rose meadowsweet [syn. S. deniflora]

Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake – common snowberry

Symphoricarpos hesperius G.N. Jones – trailing snowberry [syn. S. mollis]

Toxicodendron diversilobum (Torr. & A. Gray) Greene – Pacific poison oak

Vaccinium alaskaense Howell – Alaska blueberry

Vaccinium cespitosum Michx. – dwarf bilberry

Vaccinium deliciosum Piper – Cascade bilberry

Vaccinium membranaceum Douglas ex Torr. – thinleaf huckleberry

Vaccinium ovalifolium Sm. – oval-leaf blueberry

Vaccinium parvifolium Sm. – red huckleberry

Vaccinium scoparium Leiberg ex Coville – grouse whortleberry

Vaccinium uliginosum L. – bog blueberry [syn. V. occidentale]

Viburnum edule (Michx.) Raf. – squashberry

Viburnum ellipticum Hook. – common viburnum


GardenWeb Glossary of Botanical Terms <>

alternate – Describes leaves that are not opposite to each other on the axis, but arranged singly at different heights.

appressed – Lying close and flat against, as a bud against a twig.

bud – The rudimentary state of a stem or branch; an unexpanded flower.

calyx – The outer part (perianth) of the flower, usually green and formed of several divisions called sepals, that protects the bud.

catkin – A compact and often drooping cluster of reduced, stalkless, and usually unisexual flowers; an ament.

ciliate – Marginally fringed with hairs (cilia).

continuous (pith) – Not interrupted.

corymb – flat-topped or convex open flower cluster, the outer flowers opening first. In the stricter use of the word, equivalent to a contracted raceme and progressing in its flowering from the margin inward.

deciduous – 1. Not persistent. 2. A tree losing its leaves at the end of the growing season; nonevergreen.

downy – Covered with fine hairs.

entire (margin) – Without toothing or division.

exfoliating (bark) – Cleaving off in thin layers.

fruit – 1. The mature ovary of a seed plant. 2. Sporangia; often applied to the sporophyte.

fruiting structure – structure that produces fruits (e.g., a catkin)

glabrate – Somewhat glabrous, or becoming glabrous.

glabrous – Smooth; not rough, pubescent, or hairy.

glandular – Bearing glands or of the nature of a gland.

glaucous – Bluish white; covered or whitened with a very fine, powdery substance.

globose – Globe-shaped.

internodal – See internode.

internode – The portion of a stem between two nodes. (Also see node.)

lamellate (pith) – Composed of or arranged in layers or thin plates; having lamellae. (Also: lamellose.)

lenticel – A corky spot on the surfaces of twigs through which gases are exchanged between the atmosphere and the underlying tissues. The spot sometimes persists on the barks of branches.

margin (leaf) – An edge of a flat structure, such as a leaf.

naked (bud) – Describes a bud which lacks bud scales.

nodal – See node.

node – The place upon a stem which normally bears a leaf or whorl of leaves. (Also see internode.)

ovoid – A solid with an oval outline.

peduncle – A primary flower stalk, supporting either a cluster or a solitary flower.

persistent – Lasting beyond maturity without being shed, as some leaves remaining through winter, etc.

petiole – The stalk of a leaf that attaches to the stem.

petiolule – The stalk of a leaflet.

pith – The spongy or hollow center of twig or some stems.

prickle – A small, sharp outgrowth involving only the outer epidermal layer, usually more slender than a thorn. This is the correct term for rose thorns.

prostrate – Lying flat upon the ground.

puberlous – Minutely pubescent. (Also: puberulose, puberulent or puberulous.)

pubescent – Covered with hairs, especially if short, soft, and down-like.

recurvedCurved downward or backward; with ray florets curved backward along their length toward the stem.

reflexed – Abruptly bent or turned downward.

revolute – Curled under; rolled.

scale – A thin, membrane-like covering of the bud or twig base.

scar, bundle – Tiny, somewhat circular dots within the leaf scar, caused by the breaking of the fibrovascular bundles which run through the petioles into the blades of the leaves.

scar, leaf – The mark left on the twig at the point of attachment of a leafstalk when the leaf falls.

scar, stipule – The mark left on the twig at the point of attachment of a stipule when the leaf falls (and associated with the leaf scar).

sessile – A leaf without a petiole; sessile.

spine – A sharp woody or rigid outgrowth from a stem, leaf, or other plant part.

tomentose – Densely pubescent with matted wool.

unarmed – Lacking thorns, prickles, etc.
Additional Resources:
PLANTS Database <>
Winter Tree & Shrub Key <> (from the WTU [University of Washington] Image Collection)

1 Visible in cross section, longitudinal or oblique section.

2 The spots covering the leaves and twigs (which are especially the young ones) are peltate trichomes.

3 In P. lewisii, the membrane is papery-looking with the developing bud rupturing the membrane. Ribes bracteosum also has membrane-covered leaf scars..

4 But, the abcission layer may seem membrane-like in Lonicera.


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