Examples of some of the most common deciduous trees are oak, maple, beech and sycamore. Deciduous trees are trees that shed their leaves annually.
Deciduous trees belong to the flowering plant group, angiosperms, and they are also called leaf trees, broad-leaved trees or foliage trees. There are more types of deciduous trees than there are conifers, or evergreens, which do not shed their leaves on an annual basis. In most North American latitudes, deciduous trees shed their leaves in autumn to avoid becoming parched during winter.
The most common method of tree identification is by noting the shapes of the leaves, which are typically oval, narrowly oval with a pointed tip (lanceolate), triangular, round or heart-shaped. The edges of the leaves are important identifiers too. For instance, apple, birch and aspen trees have dentate (tooth-like) edges, while beech tree leaves are serrated and oak leaves have lobed edges.
Besides leaves, deciduous trees also can be identified through their buds, bark, blossoms and fruit. During winter, when the trees have shed their leaves, identification is usually made through bark characteristics. White poplars and birch trees are readily recognizable by their light grayish bark that sometimes appears flaky.
When deciduous trees are in bloom, their fruits can make identification easier, as in the case of apple, pear or cherry trees. Nut trees are also deciduous (beechnut and acorn, for instance), as are trees with air-borne fruit and with wing-shaped seeds, such as maple and ash.