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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Trees of Florida

At this station, participants will be asked to identify tree specimens presented indoors on tables. Juniors will be asked to identify 15 trees, Intermediates will be asked to identify 20 trees, and Seniors will be asked to identify 30 trees. Participants will not be asked for scientific names, or about any of the natural history information at the Tree ID station, but some of that information may be useful in the Forest Ecosystems station.

young boy identifying trees by their leaves

The way that participants will record their answers depends on the age classification. Juniors and Intermediates will be given lists of possible trees in alphabetical order by common names, and will be asked to match the number for the tree name with the letter for the sample on the table. Seniors will not receive a list of names. They will only receive an answer sheet with blank spaces, and they will need to write out the common name for each sample. Spelling, including capitalization, must be the same as that on the Official Tree List in order to be counted correct. The Official Tree List is the chart below. Please note that the only capitalized words are proper nouns, like American, Florida, and Brazilian. All other parts of plant names are lower case. It is good practice to know which species have alternate versions of common names (see below) but points are not deducted for issues of spacing. Minor spelling errors (including capitalization) will result in ½ point deduction per tree.

  • Redbay is merged because the tree is not in the bay family.
  • Eastern redcedar should be merged in accordance with the National 4-H Forestry Invitational list.
  • The National 4-H Forestry Invitational accepts bald cypress or baldcypress.
  • Wax myrtle or waxmyrtle will be accepted.

Participants are encouraged to practice using the actual scoresheets for the contest. Students who request assistance with reading or writing will be put in Group E, where points will not be deducted for spelling errors.

Identifying Tree Species

The majority of the tree species for Seniors are also on the National 4-H Forestry Invitational list, which should make it easier for Senior participants to study for the national contest.

To prepare for this station, participants should study the chart below, paying close attention to the trees marked for their age group. Participants must be able to identify those trees by leaf, twig, or fruit. Select the common name of each tree to learn more. 

View the trees and answer key for the 2024 Forest Ecology Contest here: 2024 Tree ID Station

In addition, several introductory videos are available to help youth get started with tree identification. 

Duval County 4-H also created a series of video tutorials on Trees and Plants of Florida

Finally, the videos below provide information and tips on leaf arrangement, composition, and parts of a leaf.

Note: Highlighted trees are considered invasive to Florida.

Content Note: Cabbage Palm has moved from the Trees list to the Plants list.

Common Name Scientific Name Juniors
(ID 15 of 20)
(ID 20 of 28)
(ID 30 of 51)
American basswood* Tilia americana     X
American beech* Fagus grandifolia     X
American elm* Ulmus americana   X X
American holly* Ilex opaca var. opaca X X X
American hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana     X
American sycamore* Platanus occidentalis X X X
bald cypress/baldcypress* Taxodium distichum X X X
black cherry* Prunus serotina   X X
black locust* Robinia pseudoacacia     X
black walnut* Juglans nigra   X X
blackgum/black tupelo* Nyssa sylvatica     X
boxelder* Acer negundo   X X
Brazilian peppertree Schinus terebinthifolia     X
Carolina willow** Salix caroliniana     X
Chinese tallow Triadica sebifera   X X
common persimmon* Diospyros virginiana   X X
eastern cottonwood* Populus deltoides     X
eastern hophornbeam Ostrya virginiana     X
eastern redcedar* Juniperus virginiana X X X
Florida maple** Acer saccharum subsp. floridanum     X
flowering dogwood* Cornus florida X X X
honeylocust* Gleditsia triacanthos     X
laurel oak Quercus laurifolia X X X
live oak* Quercus virginiana X X X
loblolly pine* Pinus taeda X X X
longleaf pine* Pinus palustris X X X
melaleuca Melaleuca quinquenervia X X X
mockernut hickory* Carya tomentosa     X
pecan* Carya illinoinensis X X X
pignut hickory* Carya glabra X X X
pond pine** Pinus serotina     X
red buckeye** Aesculus pavia     X
red maple* Acer rubrum X X X
red mulberry* Morus rubra     X
redbay Persea borbonia     X
river birch* Betula nigra     X
sassafras* Sassafras albidum X X X
seagrape Coccoloba uvifera     X
Shumard oak** Quercus shumardii     X
silver maple* Acer saccharinum     X
slash pine Pinus elliottii   X X
southern magnolia* Magnolia grandiflora X X X
southern red oak* Quercus falcata   X X
sugarberry** Celtis laevigata     X
sweetgum* Liquidambar styraciflua X X X
tuliptree* Liriodendron tulipifera X X X
turkey oak Quercus laevis X X X
water oak* Quercus nigra X X X
wax myrtle/waxmyrtle Myrica cerifera X X X
white ash* Fraxinus americana     X
white oak* Quercus alba     X

* Species is on the National 4-H Forestry Invitational list

** Species may be used as a substitute to learn about the following species that are on the National List:

  • Carolina willow for black willow*
  • Florida maple for sugar maple*
  • pond pine for pitch pine*
  • red buckeye for yellow buckeye*
  • Shumard oak for scarlet oak*, northern red oak*, and black oak*
  • sugarberry for hackberry

The following Florida trees are not on the state 4-H contest list, but can be used as local “substitutes” to help contestants learn Northern species that are on the national list: 

  • Atlantic white-cedar for northern white-cedar or arborvitae
  • Florida yew for Pacific yew
  • hazel alder for red alder
  • Japanese-cedar for giant sequoia
  • swamp tupelo for black tupelo or blackgum