Common Deciduous Trees in Your Neighborhood (in the Ontario Region)
During the summer time, you might have taken a leisurely stroll around your neighbourhood with your family or your dog. On your walk, you may have noticed all the lovely trees around you with their full green foliage. Did you ever look at those trees and wondered what they were? Here are some common deciduous trees that you may have come across in your neighborhood, specifically if you live in Ontario, Canada or in the surrounding area.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
You can find sugar maple trees in central and southern Ontario. These trees can live more than 200 years. They are large trees growing up to 35 m tall and 90 cm in diameter. They have 5-lobed yellowish-green leaves that are 8 to 20 cm long. In the autumn the leaves turn yellow, bright orange or red. The bark is smooth and gray, and becomes darker and splits into ridges that curl out when the tree matures. The seeds are contained in ‘keys’ (samara) about 30 to 35 mm long. They are produced every year with a massive crop every 7 years.
You may recognize the shape of the sugar maple leaf—it’s found on the Canadian flag. The sugar maple is also the national tree of Canada. Its name comes from the sweet sap the tree produces, which is used to make maple syrup. While other maples can be used as well, the sap from the sugar maple is one of the sweetest. To make 1 liter of maple syrup, it takes about 40 liters of sugar maple sap.
American Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana)
The American mountain ash is found across Ontario, south of Hudson bay and can live more than 40 years. It is a small tree, reaching up to 10 m in height. The leaves have 13 to 17 serrated leaflets, which are 5 to 10 cm long. The tree’s bark is smooth with lenticels (pores), and grayish-brown in color when young. The bark develops cracks, splits and scaly patches when older. In May and June, clusters of white flowers cover the trees. Later in the summer, clumps of orange-red berries, 4 to 6 mm in diameter, appear . Birds eat the fruit from these trees and they help spread the seeds.
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
You can find silver maple trees growing in central and southern Ontario.They can live more than 130 years. These trees are large and can grow up to 35 m tall with a trunk measuring more than 100 cm in diameter.They have light green leaves that are 15 to 20 cm long, with 5 or 7 lobes. Its bark is smooth and gray when young, and becomes dark reddish brown and breaks into long thin strips that peel off at the ends when older. The seeds are found in ‘keys’ (samara) 3 to 6 cm long that fall down from the tree in late spring.
The silver maple is similar to the red maple, except that its leaves turn pale yellow or brown, not red, in the autumn. Sometimes, the trunks are hollow, allowing animals and birds to live inside the trees. These trees grow quickly and are often planted to provide shade or to hide unattractive views.
Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
You can find red oak east of Lake Superior, and across central and southern Ontario. Red oak trees can live up to 500 years. They are usually 20 to 30 m tall and have a thick trunk measuring 30 to 90 cm across. Its dark green leaves are 10 to 20 cm long. The leaves have sharp, pointed lobes, usually 7 to 9, with bristle tips. In the autumn the leaves turn a deep rich red. You may find it interesting to know that sometimes dead leaves stay on oak tree, even in the winter. The tree bark is smooth and dark gray when young, developing deep ridges when the tree gets older. The fruits of the tree, the acorns, are about 2 to 3 cm long, and nearly round with a scaly cap covering about ¼ or less of the acorn.
American basswood (Tilia Americana)
You can find American basswood trees in central and southern Ontario. These trees can live for more than 200 years. They are large trees that can reach a height of 35 m or more. The leaves on American basswood are dull green on top and lighter underneath. They are heart-shaped 12 to 15 cm long and have serrated margins. The bark is smooth and gray-green when the tree is young, becoming gray-brown with long, shallow furrows and flattened ridges when the tree is older. In July, the trees produce yellow flowers about 1 cm wide. Before autumn, these flowers become little round berries that are 8 to 12 mm wide. These berries are covered in gray brown hair. They occur in a cluster with a curving leaf-like wing on top of the cluster. The tree’s seeds are found in the berries and are spread by animals or wind.
Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)
You can find ironwood in central and southern Ontario. It can live for 70 years or more. Ironwood is a small tree about 15 m tall. Its leaves are dark yellowish-green that turns a dull yellow in the autumn. They are 7 to 12 cm long and are oval shaped with a pointed end. The bark of ironwood is smooth reddish brown with horizontal lenticels when young. It later turns grayish-brown, separating into strips that peel away from the tree. Seeds grow inside clusters of thin, papery inflated pods that fall from the tree in the wintertime. The name “ironwood” comes from the tree’s very hard wood, which is used to make tool handles.
Look for these trees in your neighborhood
These are the six deciduous trees commonly found in the Ontario region. If you live near Ontario, these trees are likely in your neighborhood as well. So the next time you’re out for a walk, and you spot any of these trees, you'll be glad to know what the trees are and their proper names!
1. The Tree Atlas. 2012 [updated August 29, 2012]; Available from: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/ClimateChange/2ColumnSubPage/STDPROD_085782.html?region=nativeSpecies.
2. Dendrology at Virginia Tech. [updated April 2010]; Available from: http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/factsheets.cfm#.