About  Trees


What a tree is
Some Interesting Facts and Figures
Our Dependence on Trees
The Arboretum
Tree of the Month
References and Bibliography
Comments, Corrections, Suggestions


I have been interested in trees and tree identification from boyhood but never pursued that interest until I lived in a city with an arboretum. Ottawa, Canada, is the site of the Dominion Arboretum, the home of different species of trees from many parts of the world. The arboretum is an area of approximately 130 acres (1/5 sq. miles) in the centre of the city; it is bounded by Carleton University, Dow's Lake, the Rideau Canal and the Dominion Experimental Farm -- rolling terrain in a superb setting. Most of the trees have a name-plate giving the English, French and Latin names.

The initial set of pages and photographs will be published on the World Wide Web in June, 1996. As I learn more about trees, the results will be included in these pages. A Reference and Bibliography section is included and it is hoped to maintain a current list of links to relevant pages at other sites.


The aim of these pages is to provide an interested student of any age with some basic information about trees, to show photographs of various species, and to introduce the subject of tree identification.


The tree called Maple in English, Èrable in French, has, of course, a different name in every language. In order to enable world-wide communication, plants are given scientific names, usually in Latin. A tree species is given two names: a genus name (always capitalized) and a specific name (usually all lower-case). For example:
Acer rubrumred maple
Acer saccharumsugar maple
Quercus rubrumred oak

It should also be noted that a tree may have a host of common names, e.g., sugar maple is aka bird's-eye maple, hard maple, rock maple etc.


There are two classes of trees: gymnosperm and angiosperm.

First came the gymnosperms (primarily conifers), about 300 million years ago, and later, about 160 million years ago, the angiosperms (flowering trees). The two classes are distinguished by the placement of the seeds, i.e.,

 The seeds are naked (exposed) -- as, for example, in the cones of a pine.
 The seeds are enclosed -- as, for example, in the keys of a maple.
The gymosperms, or conifers, are commonly referred to as evergreen; the angiosperms as deciduous. Here is a summary of the main characteristics of the two classes:
  1. Angiosperm (Deciduous)
    • Deciduous (leaves are shed annually) -- but there are a few evergreen exceptions: arbutus, holly, some oaks, some laurel, palms etc.;
    • Flowering;
    • Enclosed-seeds;
    • Broad-leaved.

  2. Gymnosperm or Conifer (Evergreen)
    • Evergreen -- but there are a few deciduous exceptions: bald cypress, larch (tamarack);
    • Non-flowering;
    • Naked-seeds in cones -- but there are a few exceptions: juniper and yew have a berry-like fruit;
    • Needle-shaped or scale-shaped leaves.

Our Dependence on Trees

   In Preparation

The Arboretum

The goal is a set of pictures for a number of trees. A set would include eventually: silhouettes in winter, trees with full foliage in summer, the bark, the seeds and the leaves. The pictures are taken mostly in The Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa, Canada (a few from the Ornamental Gardens). The project was started in March, 1996; the ground was still covered with snow, but not very deep, so it was fairly easy to walk around. Since I am neither botanist nor photographer, it is anticipated that the project will proceed at a fairly slow pace.

Select one of the following Classes:

Tree of the Month

Hopefully, "Tree of the Month" will be installed in the not too distant future.

Comments, Suggestions, Corrections to:  dave.biggar@sympatico.ca  S.V.P.

email: dave.biggar@sympatico.ca