My Tree Walk at Duranceau Park

Welcome to Xinchen’s tree page! I took a walk in Duranceau Park in Columbus, OH, and I found all of these trees there. This park has a woody forest area and is next to the Scioto River,  so the environment there is suitable for many kinds of trees.

My own “tree blindness”

After reading the article “Tree Blindness“wrote by Gabriel Popkin, I started to focusing on the trees while walking around campus. I found that I can name a few of the common trees! This never happens to me before, because I never learned how to ID plants (I can ID many insects though!). I used to think trees were boring, just woods with leaves on them. But now I realized that there are so many types of leaves: simple, compound, lobed, entire……..and their tree barks are also different from each other. It’s like I opened a gate to a new world in which there are all sorts of trees! In the article, Popkin told about how trees tell us how well we managed our environment. As an EEOB student, I always want to know more about the ecology and the environment. Learning about trees is definitely  a good way to now the environment around the tree. Also, some trees can be functional in nature, such as consolidating the riverbed or purifying the air pullution.


Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

The first tree on my walk was a purpleleaf plum tree. It has dark purple leaves. It has purple alternative simple leaves. It’s one of the first European trees to flower in spring, the flowers are white or pale pink and about 2 cm across with five petals and many stamens. It took me a long time to figure out what type of tree is this. The tree guide does not mention its purple-colored leaf , and it was the first tree I met after parking my car!!! Accoring to some online resources, I got some general information about cherry plum. The fruit is an edible drupe, 2–3 cm in diameter, ripening to yellow or red from early July to mid-September. But I didn’t find any fruit on this cherry plum tree. One fact about this tree is that the dark purple color was a hybrid of Prunus cerasifera and Prunus pumila, the sand cherry.

The whole tree of cherry plum

The dark purple leaves of cherry plum


Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

The second tree I met is a red oak. It has toothed alternative simple leaves. It is a native North America tree. Red oak is easy to recognize by its striped bark. Some other oaks have the stripes in the upper tree but northern red oak has this stripes all the way down the trunk . This is a relatively young red oak because of the light grey color on its bark. When they turn older, the bark will change their color to a darker brownish color. They produces acorns for two growing seasons, and northern red oak kernels have highly concentrated amounts of bitter-tasting tannin, which has limited appeal for consumption among animals.

Red oak is a native North American tree, and it prefers good soil that is slightly acidic. (probably the soil pH level in Duranceau Park is slightly acidic!). The various environmental responses observed in red oak across several temperate environmental conditions have allowed for it to serve as a model organism for studying symbiotic relationships, dispersal, and habituation between tree species.

The tree bark of red oak

Red oak tree leaves


Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Then 3rd tree is a honey locust. This name does not come from its sweet legume pulp. According to Little, Elbert L. (1994), in he Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Western Region, The pulp on the inside of the pods is edible (unlike the black locust, which is toxic), and it is consumed by wildlife and livestock. Honey locust has  alternative pinnately compound leaves on older trees but bipinnately compound leaves on vigorous young trees, and they turn yellow in autumn. The fruit of it is a flat legume  that matures in early autumn. Honey locust is also native to North America where it is usually found in moist soil, but It tolerates urban conditions, compacted soil, road salt, alkaline soil, heat, and drought. Also, it is an invasive species inn Australia, because it forms thickets and prevent animals or livestocks from drinking water.

The tree bark of honey locust

The bipinnately compound leaves


Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

This is the 4th tree I saw during my trip (halfway!). It is a silver maple, also known as creek maple, silver leaf maple, soft maple, large maple, swamp maple or white maple. It has opposite  toothed simple leaves with palmately veins, and it is one of the most common tree in the United States. Theirleaves turn pale yellow in autumn but it has a tendency to drop its leaves slightly earlier in autumn than other maples. It is a fast-growing tree, a 10-year-old silver maple can reach about 8 meters tall, but its quick growth leads to  brittle wood, thus it can be used as pulp for making paper. Lumber from silver maple is used in furniture, cabinets, flooring, musical instruments, crates, and tool handles, because it is light and easily worked.  They are often found by water (Scioto river!). Besides, they are one of the  primary food sources for squirrels, chipmunks and birds.

The silver maple tree

The opposite  toothed simple leaves with palmately veins


American Basswood (Tilia americana)

Here comes the 5th tree in my field trip, American basswood. it has alternative single slightly-toothed and heart-shaped leaves and light-brown bark with narrow, well-defined fissures. It is often used to help control erosion along stream banks (Scioto river!). The inner bark of basswood was used as a fiber source for making ropes and fishing nets. The basswood tree also has other uses, such as creating basswood oil. For that reason, it is essential in making various types of paints, varnishes, inks, dyes, and other similar products.

The tree bark of American basswood

The heart-shaped alternative single slightly-toothed and leaves


Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The 6th tree along my trip was a tulip tree ( not tulip of course lol). it has alternative single lobed leaves with a very cute looking! This was a newly grown little tree near the children’s playground. They are easily recognized by their 4 lobes leaves, It grows taller under the competition for sunlight while shorter in a open area (what a lazy dude). Since it is late fall now, I didn’t get a picture with the flower but I got one from wikipedia shown at the bottom. It prefers deep, fertile, well-drained and slightly acidic soil (acidic again!). The wood (called tulipwood) of North American species is fine grained and stable. It is easy to work and commonly used for cabinet and furniture framing.

P.S. Liriodendrons have been reported as fossils from the late Cretaceous and early Tertiary of North America and central Asia, how cool is that!

The little tulip tree!

The cute alternative single lobed leaves

Liriodendron tulipifera foliage and flower. Morton Arboretum


Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)

The 7th tree (almost there!)I found is a chikapin oak. It has alternative lobed single leaves with round leaf base, and it is native to eastern and central North America. Chinkapin oak is monoecious in flowering habit, The staminate flowers are borne in catkins that develop from the leaf axils of the previous year, and the pistillate flowers develop from the axils of the current year’s leaves. It is typically found calcareous soil and rocky slopes (someone must planted it in the park), and weakly acidic soil (acidic again!). The chinquapin oak is especially known for its sweet and palatable acorns. It can be eaten raw, providing an excellent source of food for both wildlife and people!

The tree bark of chinkapin oak

The beautiful alternative lobed single leaves with round leaf base


London Plane Tree (Platanus occidentalis)

The last one is the London plane tree. it is always confused with Sycamore, and it can be distinguished by the number of fruit clusters: London plane tree typically has the round fruit in groups of 2 while sycamore has only one. It has alternatively arranged simple leaves with palmately  lobed margin. We can see from the picture below that London plane tree has pale-grey bark and it’s kind of exfoliating. The young leaves in spring are coated with fine, stiff hairs, but these hair wear off by late summer. Also, The London Plane is one of the most efficient trees in removing small particulate pollutants in urban areas.

The distinguishable  tree bark of London plane tree

The alternatively arranged simple leaves with palmately  lobed margin

The dry fruit I picked up under the tree