How Do You Identify Common Trees in Kansas?

Common trees in Kansas are identified by their leaves. Trees are also identifiable by the presence or absence of thorns, odor and taste, type of buds, characteristics of the bark and position of the stems on the branches. Online tree identification field guides, such as the one provided by the Arbor Day Foundation, help identify trees by region of the country.

Kansas has no native pine trees, so the majority of the trees grow leaves, which are used to distinguish one species of tree from another. Identifying characteristics of leaves include the number growing on a single stem, whether the leaf edges are serrated or smooth, and whether the leaf is uniform at its edges or lobed, which means the leaf has shapes formed along its margins.

The most common tree in Kansas is the Eastern cottonwood, which grows in every county of the state. The Eastern cottonwood has coarsely toothed, curved leaves that are shaped like sails. The leaves grow on a long, flat stem, and they flutter at the slightest breeze. The leaves are dark green in summer and yellow in autumn before they fall. Other common Kansas trees include the Osage orange, American elm, oak and hickory trees.