Self-Guided Tree Tour

One of the marvelous parts of Ganondagan is the miles of tree-lined trails. No matter the season, the trees bring enjoyment - in Spring we see blooms and young leaves unfurling for the season, in Summer the trees bring shaded coolness, for Fall they bring their fancy dresses and shawls of varying hues, and in Winter they are no longer hidden under leafy coats and we can finally see their statuesque trunks and limbs on display. 

This page will highlight some of the beautiful native trees we have at Ganondagan. But in order to fully appreciate the trees, you must see them in person.

American Beech

Fagus grandifolia

The American Beech is a large tree (60-80') with a rounded crown and long horizontal branches. It has dull, dark-green elliptical leaves (2.5-5" long, 1-3" wide) that are saw-toothed and end in a point. The bark is one of the things casual trail walkers may notice first. The bark is light gray, very smoth, and thin regardless of the maturity of the tree. Because of this, the American Beech is often subjected to damage and possible disease from people carving their names in its beautiful smooth bark. The beech produces an edible nut which is 5/8" long, 3-angled and shiny brown. The beech's leaves turn yellow or brown in the Fall. It is one of the most easy to recognize trees on a winter hike - the smooth gray bark, long pointed leaf buds, and it often retains some of last year's leaves - in our Northeastern hardwood forests, only some oaks and the beech will retain a portion of last season's leaves through the winter.

American Beech Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.007' W077°25.362'

American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana 

("Blue beech," "Ironwood," "Musclewood")
The American Hornbeam is a small, shrubby tree (30') that has one or more angled trunks and has slender, spreading branches with a broad, rounded crown. It has dull, dark blue-green elliptical leaves (2-4.5" long, 1-2.5" wide) that are saw-toothed. The leaves turn orange and red in the Fall. The bark is thin, smooth, and a bluish, gray. But the trunks of mature trees have distinctive smooth vertical ridges that give the trunk a look of musculature and hence one of its common names, "musclewood." The other common names of "hornbeam" and "ironwood" indicate that this tree has very hard and tough wood. This tree is usually found as an understory tree in moist, fertile woodland and stream settings.

American Hornbeam Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.115' W077°25.352'


Malus sp. 

("Common Apple," "Wild Apple")
The tree information presented here features native trees and the apple is a striking exception to that. The apple is not native to North America though it has becomenaturalized in Southern Canada and the Eastern United States. But since there were once apple orchards and cider presses at Ganondagan (before it was a historic site), it is right and appropriate to include the apple tree on this page.

The apple tree (30-40') has a short trunk with a spreading, rounded crown. The tree features showy pink-tinged blossoms in the spring that are followed by choice, edible fruit in late Summer and early Fall. Apple leaves are ovate (2-3.5" long, 1.25-2.25" wide) and saw-toothed. The bark of an apple tree is gray, fissured and scaly.

Apple Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.768' W077°24.908'




Tilia americana

("American Linden," "Bee-Tree")
The basswood is a large tree (60-100') with a long trunk and a dense crown of small drooping branches. The leaves are large (3-6" long, 3-6" wide) and broadly ovate with a coarse saw-toothed edge and palmate veining. Basswood's heart-shaped leaves are distinctive in their lopsided, not completely symmetrical nature and turn pale yellow or brown in the Fall. The bark is dark gray and smooth. It is the basswood's fragrant flowers that give it its common name of "bee-tree." When in flower, these trees are favored by bees over many other species of plants and the trees "hum" with bees. The honey that the bee makes from this tree is strong-flavored and a much sought after honey. Its soft, light wood has been used as lumber and its fibrous inner bark was used to make cordage.

Basswood Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.914' W077°25.229'


Black Cherry

Prunus serotina

("Wild Cherry," "Rum Cherry")
The black cherry is a tall tree (80') with an oblong crown and it has a distinctive "cherrylike odor" in its bark and crushed foliage. The leaves are dark-green, elliptical (2-5" long, 1.25-2" wide) and are finely saw-toothed with curved or blunt teeth. The leaves turn a yellow or reddish color in the Fall. The bark is often a distinguishing charateristic of this tree - it is smooth and dark gray with horizontal lines when younger while the mature bark is scaly and irregular with the reddish-brown inner bark exposed. Like all fruit trees, the black cherry has a Spring display of flowers - racemes of small 5-petaled white blossoms followed by blackish bitter, edible fruits in the Summer. This is the largest of all native cherry trees and has been a valuable lumber source. The black cherry is also a well-known source of herbal medicine - cough medicines were made from the bark of the tree and the "cherry" flavor that is a popular cough medicine flavor to this day hints at this past.

Black Cherry Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.854' W077°24.995'



Populus deltoides

The cottonwood is a large tree (100') with a massive trunk that is often forked into stout branches. The crown broad and open with spreading and slightly drooping branches. The leaves are triangular (3-7" long, 3-5" wide) with curved coarse teeth. The leaves are shiny and green while the Fall color is yellow. The young bark is yellowish green and smooth becoming light gray, thick, rough, and deeply furrowed with age. The fruit of the cottonwood tree gives it its common name - it produces copious amount of cottony seeds. The cottonwood is one of the largest of the eastern hardwoods and has been used for lumber.

Cottonwood Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.138' W077°25.403'


Cucumber Magnolia

Magnolia acuminata

The cucumber magnolia is a tree with a straight trunk (60-80') and a narrow crown of short upright branches. The leaves are elliptical or ovate (5-10" long, 3-6" wide). The leaves are green and hairless on the top and are paler beneath often with soft hairs. The Fall leaf color is a dull yellow or brown. The bark is dark brown and furrowed. Like other magnolias, this tree has large (2.5 - 3.5" wide) flowers in the Spring. The flowers have 6 yellow-green or bright yellow petals. The shape of the fruit, which is 2.5-3" long and is dark red and conelike, gives this tree its common name.

Cucumber Magnolia Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.091' W077°25.291'


Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

The flowering dogwood is a small tree (30') with a short trunk and a crown of spreading or nearly horizontal branches. The leaves are elliptical (2.5-5" long, 1.5-2.5" width) and do not appear toothed (tiny teeth are visible under magnification). The leaves are green and have curved veins on each side of the midvein. The Fall foliage color is bright red. The Spring blooms are exceptionally beautiful and this along with the Fall color has made this a prized ornamental tree in gardens and landscaping. The actual flowers are tiny (5mm) with yellowish-green petals at the center of the flower heads. The flowers are surrounded by 4 large white petal-likebracts that make up the striking portion of the flower heads.

Flowering Dogwood Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.063' W077°25.350'



Crataegus sp.

The hawthorn is a large group of small tree or shrub species native to the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Europe, and Asia. The hawthorn species range in height from 15-50'. The leaves are highly variable, but generally 2 to 4 inches long, toothed and lobed, though they may be unlobed as well. The hawthorn has clusters of 5-petaled white blooms in the Spring that are followed by clusters of small red or orange fruit in the Fall. The stout 1" long (or more!) spines that are along the twigs and branches give this tree its name. Hawthorn is one of the trinity of "fairy trees" of Europe - Oak, Ash, and Thorn. The hawthorn's Fall colors range from yellow to scarlet. In the winter, the hawthorn can be quite recognizable for its thorns and berries very visible in the winter.

Hawthorn Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.836' W077°24.979'


Acer sp.

The maple is a group of 125 species of trees found in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Most maple species are tall trees that grow 30-145' tall although there are some species that are more shrub-like. The leaves are generally palmately veined and lobed (3-9 lobes) with the veins spreading through the lobes. The flowers appear in sweet-smelling clusters in Late Winter or Early Spring and are followed samaras or "maple keys." These seeds have papery wings that children love to call "helicopters" and "whirlybirds" due to the spinning motion as they fall. All maples can be tapped for their sap which is turned into maple sryup and maple sugar. One of the most well known of the North American maples is the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).

Maple Location:
Visitor's Center
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.678' W077°24.803'

Red Osier Dogwood

Cornus stolonifera

("Red Dogwood")
The red osier dogwood is a large (3-10'), spreading and thicket-forming shrub that has a multi-trunk habit. The leaves are elliptical or ovate (1.5-3.5" long, 0.6-2" wide) and are smooth (no teeth). There are 5-7 long sunken curved veins on each side of the leaf midvein. The leaves are a dull green above and a whitish-green beneath with fine hairs. The red osier dogwood's Fall foliage color is red. This shrub has clusters of small white flowers in Late Spring that are followed by whitish berries later in the season. The bark of the young twigs is the most notable part of this shrub since they are a purplish-red which makes this a favored plant for Winter landscapes.

Red Osier Dogwood Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.858' W077°25.030'


Sassafras albidum

The sassafras is an aromatic tree (30-60') and has a narrow, spreading crown of short, stout branches. Sometimes this tree can have a thicket-forming shrub habit. There are three different leaf shapes for the sassafras - elliptical, mitten-shaped 2-lobed leaf, and 3-lobed leaf. These leaf types will be seen on the same tree and often the same branches. See image to the right for an example of this - click image for a larger view. This tree is resplendent in the Fall with yellow, orange, and red colors. The bark is gray-brown becoming thick and furrowed with age. The sassafras has tiny yellow-green flowers and bluish-black berries that are usually only seen by birds. The roots of this tree have been used for perfumes, tea, and was the original root beer flavor. The leaf is still used as a thickener (filé) in gumbo.

Sassafras Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.853' W077°24.992'


Amelanchier canadensis

("Juneberry," "Saskatoon," "Shadblow," "Shadbush")
The serviceberry is a small tree (25') or large shrub with a multi-trunk habit and a narrow crown. The leaves are ovate (1.5-3" long, 1" wide) with a fine toothed edge and are dark green. The young bark is smooth and silver-gray that becomes rough and furrowed with age. The Spring flower display is impressive - the tree becomes a cloud of 5-petaled, white 1/2" blooms that are clustered in 2-3" long racemes. If the beauty of the multi-trunked tree or blooms weren't enough to make this tree a top landscape and garden choice, its fruit will surely put this one on the top of the list. The fruit ripens early summer, hence the name "juneberry," and are a dark purple or black when ripe. The berries are wonderful to eat fresh, cooked, or dried. They have a taste similiar to a blueberry with an almond like finish.

Serviceberry Location:
Visitor's Center
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.675' W077°24.782'

Shagbark Hickory

Carya ovata

("Scalybark Hickory," "Shellbark Hickory")
The shagbark hickory is a large tree (70-100') with a tall trunk and a narrow, irregular crown. The leaves are pinnately compound and are 8-14" long. The leaves have 5 elliptical leaflets that are 3-7" and are finely saw-toothed. The leaves are a yellow-green and turn golden-brown in the Fall. The bark in very young trees is gray and smooth but it soon takes on its characteristic and highly recognizable rough and "shaggy" nature. The flowers are tiny and greenish and are visible in the Spring before the leaves appear. The nuts are round and 1.25-2.5" long with a think green husk. The husk will turn dark brown and split when mature to reveal the edible and tasty nut.

Shagbark Hickory Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.890' W077°25.167'


Lindera benzoin

("Benjamin Bush")
The spicebush is a medium-sized shrub (16') that has a short trunk with a small, roundish crown. The spicebush is found only as an understory shrub. The leaves are obovate (3.5-5" long, 2" wide) and are a light green color. The aromatic foliage takes on a yellow color in the Fall. The spicebush has greenish-brown stems with lenticels. The spicebush blooms Early Spring and produces a scarlet, oval drupe in early Fall. Besides using the ground fruit as a spice for its allspice-like flavor, various parts of the spicebush have been used medicinally. It should be noted that the spicebush is the favorite host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) and the Promethea Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea).

Spicebush Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.119' W077°25.347'

Staghorn Sumac

Rhus typhina

("Velvet Sumac")
The staghorn sumac is a tall shrub or small tree (30') with an irregular, open, flat crown or a few stout spreading branches. The leaves are pinnately compound and are 12-24" long with a stout softly hairy reddish-tinged axis (center stem). Each leaf consists of 11-31 leaflets that are 2-4" long, lance-shaped, and saw-toothed. The leaves are dark green above and whitish beneath. The staghorn sumac stands out in the Fall because its foliage color is bright red with orange and purple. There are tiny greenish flowers in Early Summer with clusters of fruits covered in long red hairs maturing in Late Summer and Fall. These fruits are highly visible throughout the Winter season. The bark is dark brown, thin, and smooth becoming scaly with age. The twigs are stout and hairy which are reminiscent of deer antlers when they are "in velvet" and so inspired the common name of this tree.

Staghorn Sumac Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.793' W077°24.920'


Liriodendron tulipifera

("Yellow-poplar," "Tulip-poplar")
The tulip tree is one of the tallest eastern hardwood tree species (80-120') that has a long straight trunk and narrow crown that spreads with age. The leaves are a unique "tulip-like" shape and are 5-8" long and wide. The leaves are bright green and turn yellow in the Fall. The bark is dark gray becoming thick and furrowed with age. The Springtime tulip-like flowers are 1.5-2" long and wide, cup-shaped, and have 6 rounded green petals that are orange at the base. The following fruit is light brown and a conelike structure that is composed of many nutlets (seeds). This tree has been used for lumber and in ancient, virgin forests this tree would reach 200'.

Tuliptree Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.001' W077°25.282'

White Oak

Quercus alba

("Stave Oak")
The white oak is a tall tree (80-100') that has widespreading branches and a rounded crown with the trunk irregularly divided into spreading and often horizontal branches. The leaves areelliptical (4-9" long, 2-4" wide) with 5 to 9 lobes. The leaves are bright green above with a whitish or grey-green color beneath. The leaves turn red and brown in the Fall and often remain attached throughout the Winter. The bark is light gray and shallowly fissured into long broad scaly plates or ridges. The white oak's edible acorns are 3/8"-1.25" long, egg-shaped, and about 1/4 enclosed by a shallow cap. This tree has been prized for its lumber which was used for many purposes but it is its use for barrel making that gave the oak its name of "stave oak."

White Oak Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.017' W077°25.250'

Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus

("White Pine," "Northern White Pine")
The white pine is the largest northeastern conifer reaching 100' although more than 150' was common in pre-colonial virgin stands of these trees. This evergreen tree has a straight trunk and a crown of horizontal branches - 1 row added per year. The needles are 2.5-5" long, 5 in a bundle, slender, and blue-green. The bark is gray and smooth becoming rough, thick, and deeply furrowed into narrow scaly ridges with age. The cones are narrow and 4-8" long. The white pine was one of the most valuable trees of the Northeast with its lumber was used for a variety of purposes including ship masts. The original Tree of Peace was a white pine and its bundles of 5 needles represented the original 5 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Eastern White Pine Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.854' W077°25.002'


Salix sp.

The willow is a large group of trees and shrubs with around 400 species worldwide. Willows are mainly found in the moist and cold soils of the North Hemisphere. Willows are "cross-fertile" sohybrid trees naturally occur - often making positive identifications of species more difficult. The leaves are typically linear-lanceolate and also usually are toothed, rounded at base, and acute or acuminate. Willow leaves can be a variety of greens from yellowish-green to a blue-green. Willows are dioecious which means the male and female flowers are on different plants. It is the male flower catkins or pussy willows that are an Early Spring favorite of young and old alike. The willow has been an important tree for its light weight wood, wicker, and medicinal purposes - its bark was the forerunner of asparin.

Willow Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°57.860' W077°25.040'

Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana

The witch hazel is a large shrub or small tree (20-30') with a broad, open crown of spreading branches. The leaves are broadly elliptical (3-5" long, 2-3" wide) with an uneven base and coarse toothing. The leaves are a dull dark green above and paler beneath that turn yellow in the Fall. The bark is light brown and is smooth or scaly. The flowers, which are present in the Fall or Winter, are 1" wide with 4 bright yellow threadlike petals. The fruit is a hard ellipitical capsule (0.5" long) ending in 4 sharp points - upon drying, the capsule may eject its seeds up to 30' away. An aromatic extract of the leaves, twigs, and barks is used as an astringent and is still available in drug stores.

Witch Hazel Location:
Earth is Our Mother Trail
GPS Coordinates:
N 42°58.013' W077°25.255'