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Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication.

Vol. 34, No. 1 - October 1987 - Emporia State University Tree Trail

Volume 34, Number 1 -
October 1987

Emporia State University Tree Trail




Editor: Robert F. Clarke

Editorial Committee: Tom Eddy, Gilbert A. Leisman, Gaylen Neufeld, John Parrish

Online edition by: Terri Weast

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of to Kansas teachers, school board members and administrators, librarians, conservationists, youth leaders, and other adults interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as supply lasts. Send requests to The Kansas School Naturalist, Division of Biological Sciences, State University, Kansas, 66801-5087.

The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April of each year by Emporia State University, 1200 Commercial, Emporia, Kansas 66801-5087. Second-class postage paid at Emporia, Kansas.

"Statement required by the Act of August 12, 1970 Section 3685, Title 34, United States Code, showing Ownership, Management, and Circulation." The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April. Editorial Office and Publication Office at 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas 66801-5087. The Naturalist is edited and published by Emporia State University, Kansas. Robert F. Clarke, Division of Biological Sciences.

Emporia State University Tree Trail

by Delta Kappa Chapter Beta Beta Beta

Travelers in foreign lands remark on the exotic architecture, animals, birds, and customs -- and, especially, the trees. At home, these same people go about their lives, living constantly among trees that they are familiar with, but about which they know very little, not even their identity. In a way, these persons might as well be in a foreign land. Certain satisfaction and enjoyment comes with a knowledge of nature, and one step toward a broader knowledge is identification of common trees. It's easy -- and here is one way to do it. Use this booklet and walk the trail indicated on the Emporia State University campus. On pages 8 and 9 is a map of the campus with the trail marked. The numbers on the map refer to the tree identification and description. Stop at each numbered location. Find the marker identifying the tree. Look up paragraph describing the tree and examine the bark and the leaves. See how the tree is shaped, how the branches grow, seed pods
or flowers, if any, and how this tree differs from other trees. Then move on to the next numbered stop and repeat your observations of the tree there. You'll be surprised how quickly you become familiar with putting the right name on any given tree. These trees grow elsewhere than the campus, of course; so you can transfer this newly-gained knowledge to other places. It is easy to get caught up in this game, and there is no limit to the eventual satisfaction that can be acquired from increasing your horizon -- beyond the campus, beyond the community,
the state, beyond the country.

The honorary biological society, Beta Beta Beta, of Emporia State University, has prepared this booklet, and they invite you to learn more about the common native and ornamental trees of Kansas. This trail takes you on a tour of 40 species of trees and occupies about an hour at leisurely pace. Enjoy yourself!


Emporia State University was founded March 7, 1863, as Kansas State Normal School. Since that time the school's name has changed three times and the campus has grown considerably in size.

To make the campus more beautiful, trees have been donated to honor a number of past presidents and athletes of Emporia State University. In the early years of the school, several senior classes donated trees. In 1893, an elm tree was planted in memory of former President Taylor. In 1918, another elm was planted in honor of former president Butcher. The oak trees that are to the west of Plumb
Hall were dedicated to the memory of Mike Rostetter, a football player who was killed in World War I. Elm trees were planted in memory of McKinley Pratt, a baseball star, and evergreen trees were planted in memory of William Hays, a prominent football player. In 1923, the evergreen trees in front of Plumb Hall were planted in memory of the name, Kansas State Normal School, which was being changed to Kansas State Teachers College. As of 1936 there were sixty-five different kinds of trees on campus.

About twenty-five years ago, Dutch elm disease swept through North America, destroying American elms. Because 50 percent of the deciduous trees on campus were elms, the campus suffered a huge loss of large shade trees. The campus was replanted with a variety of trees, which has contributed to the large diversity of trees found there today.

ESU Tree Map


1. WHITE CEDAR (Thuja occidentalis)
Northern white cedar is very similar to western red cedar. They differ by the waxy white band on the underside of the foliage of the white cedar. The white cedar also smells of apples cooked with cloves. This tree is often referred to as "arbor vitae", which is Latin for "tree of life", because of its evergreen foliage.
2. BRADFORD PEAR (Pyrus callervana)
Simply known as the Bradford, it is often used in urban areas for ornamental purposes. The Bradford blooms in April with white flowers. The leaves are glossy, dark green, and nearly round. During fall, the foliage turns a brilliant purplish-red and is most attractive.
3. REDBUD (Cercis canadensis)
This small unique tree is also known as the Judas tree or Junebud. In the fall, the fruits of the tree are long, flat crimson pods that hang on the old stems as well as the new ones. The tree is most easily identified by its heart-shaped leaves and rosy-purple flowers which appear on the trunk as well as on the branches. In the spring, the flowers appear before the leaves.
The fruit of the mulberry tree is an aggregate fruit, which means many individual fruits make up one berry. Humans and birds eat these fruits, which are black, white, or red in color. The mulberry leaf comes in several shapes with toothed edges and rough surfaces. The leaves of some species are used as food for silkworms. The tree has a characteristic rough, scaly, pinkish-brown bark.
5. TREE OF HEAVEN (Ailanthus altissima)
Also called the tree of paradise or smoke tree, the tree of heaven is native to northern China. Its name comes from a translation of a Chinese phrase meaning "very tall tree." In cities, it can withstand smoke and gas from factories; it is a rapidly growing tree in urban and rural environments. Its huge leaf, which may have ten to forty leaflets, falls off completely while still green.

HACKBERRY (Celtis occidentalis)
Belonging to the elm family, it is often mistaken for an elm due to its similar appearance. Its dark purple berries ripen in the fall and remain on the tree throughout the winter, providing food for birds. The tree is often recognized by its bark, which is roughened by corky warts and ridges, and its leaves are usually covered with insect galls.


7. BRISTLY LOCUST (Robinia hispida)
Also known as the rose acacia, the bristly locust is planted as an ornamental tree. In two years the tree may grow to be 10 feet tall. The stems are covered with reddish brown bristles with 4 to 8 inch leaves having as many as 9 to 15 egg shaped leaflets. The flowers, which bloom in May, are large and rose pink.
8. RUSSIAN OLIVE (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
Commonly used for wind breaks because it does not usually get over 5 meters tall and is highly immune to drought, disease, and poor soil conditions. Its bushy growth makes a perfect nesting place for birds. An outstanding characteristic of this tree is its thin split bark. Its leaves are grey to dark green above and silvery-white beneath.

HONEY LOCUST (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Known in some regions as the honey-shuck, the pods provide food for several small animals and are sometimes fed to livestock. The wood of the honey locust is often used for construction purposes, fenceposts, and railroad ties. The leaf on this tree is compound, having many small leaflets on each stalk. The thornless variety of honey locust is used more for ornamental purposes because it does not have the typical three-barbed thorns.

Honey Locust

10. HAWTHORN (Crataegus sp.)
This tree represents a very complex group of dense shrubs or small trees. The fruits, which are apple-like, persist on the tree into the winter and provide food for numerous birds and mammals. This tree is infected with cedar apple rust, which is a fungus that requires moisture and is detrimental to its host.
11. SEPTEMBER ELM (Ulmus serotina)
September elm is a rare southern species that has flowers and fruits appearing in autumn. It has a thin bark which makes it susceptible to fire. The leaves look like typical elm leaves but are smaller.
12. PIN OAK (Quercus palustris)
Also known as the swamp oak, the pin oak is often used as an ornamental tree alongside streets. The tree is usually found in poorly drained areas and on the edges of swamps. Small leaves, thin branches, and tiny acorns are the familiar characteristics of the pin oak. In the autumn, the leaves turn brilliant red.

KENTUCKY COFFFE TREE (Gymnocladus dioica)
This tree was named by Kentucky pioneers who made a bitter drink from its seeds. In the winter you can see the thick brown oblong pods hanging from the branches. The Kentucky coffee tree is characterized by twice-compound leaves and hairy twigs, which in the winter appear to be painted with grey paint.

Kentucky Coffee Tree

14. FLOWERING DOGWOOD (Cornus florida)
The dogwood is best known for its white flowers that show in the early spring. The flowers have four large white petal-like bracts surrounding a number of perfect flowers. In the fall, clusters of small red berries are present. This tree is a cultivated species, and the flowers are pink colored. The wood is ideal for making spindles for thread since the wood is rather compact.
15. OSAGE ORANGE (Maclura pomifera)
Originally found in the valleys that were inhibited by the Osage Indians, this hardy tree has been adapted for hedges and windbreaks. This usually small and thorny tree has a very distinguishable fruit, commonly known as the "Hedge Apple," which resembles a large, green orange.
16. SUGAR MAPLE (Acer saccharum)
Also known as the hard maple, this tree is valued in the manufacture of furniture. The sap of the sugar maple is used for making syrup. It takes about 32 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. The fruit and seeds ripen in late summer and provide food for many kinds of animals. The leaves of the sugar maple are dark green on top and paler green underneath. In the fall, the leaves tum colors that range from yellow to orange to scarlet.
17. BASSWOOD (Lilia glabra)
The American basswood, or linden, is a hardy tree that can grow to 80 or 90 feet tall. It has small clusters of flowers that lie beneath a modified leaf, so that birds and insects have to look underneath to find the nectar-rich flowers. The basswood forms a dense shade in the summer, making it a good lawn tree. Its leaves are large and heart-shaped and its pea-sized fruits hang from the modified leaf in the autumn.

GREEN ASH (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
Green ash is commonly found near rivers and moist lowlands. The wood is heavy and hard which makes it very popular for tool handles, baseball bats, and skis. The tree produces a large number of seeds, which grow quickly upon dispersal.

Green Ash

19. AUSTRIAN PINE (Pinus nigra)
This tree, which is also known as the black pine, bears long straight needles which are arranged two per bundle. This tree has rugged, closely spaced branches, resulting in a very knotty low-grade timber. Austrian pines are used in North America and Europe for shelter belts. When the tree is young it is dense and straight, and when it is mature it has a flat-topped crown and plated bark.
20. SCOTCH PINE (Pinus sylvestris)
The Scotch, or Scots, pine is so named because its native range includes Scotland. The Scotch pine has become the traditional Christmas tree. It has short needles which are arranged two per bundle and the bark appears orange underneath irregular scaly plates.
21. WHITE PINE (Pinus strobus)
This is the tallest pine in eastern North America. The Indians used the bark of the white pine as a cough remedy. During pre-revolutionary times, tall straight specimens were reserved by the British crown for ship masts. Occasionally a tree can still be found with the Royal mark on it. The needles, which come in bundles of five, are long, flexible, and bluish green.
22. ENGLISH OAK (Quercus robur)
This particular variety of English oak, which is native to Europe, grows in a columnar form similar to Lombardy poplar. It has leaves that are similar to those of white oak but are less deeply lobed.
23. CRABAPPLE (Pyrus sp.)
There are about twenty-five species of crabapple. They are small scrubby trees with five-petaled pink or white flowers. The small apple-like fruits can be made into jelly.
24. PONDEROSA PINE (Pinus ponderosa)
The ponderosa pine, or western yellow pine, is widely used for lumber. Because of its value it is cut sparingly to insure future supplies. The tree has rigid long needles that are usually grouped in threes and a bark that is cinnamon-red to nearly black.

BLACK WALNUT (Juglans nigra)
A prized hardwood, black walnut is used for gunstocks, furniture, and cabinets. The leaves are large and have a distinctive aroma. The seed is covered by a thick husk that was used by pioneers to make brown dye and by poachers to kill fish. The seed is edible once removed from the shell. The tree can be identified by its fuzzy twigs and light brown, chambered pith observed
in a cut-open stem.

Black Walnut


SWEET GUM (Liquidambar stryraciflua)
Planted as a shade tree, the sweet gum has a star-shaped leaf that has brilliant coloring during the fall. The dried fruit, which is covered small horns, releases many winged seeds when cracked open. These fruits persist on the tree after the leaves have fallen.

Sweet Gum

27. NORWAY MAPLE (Acer platanoides)
Sometimes called the purple maple, the Norway maple was introduced from Europe because of its disease-resistant qualities. The tree has a beautiful spray of flowers in the spring. One characteristic is a milky juice that appears at the base of the leaf stalk. Ribbed bark is another recognizable feature.
28. MAGNOLIA (Magnolia soulangeana)
Magnolias need well-protected, sunny areas to grow in northern latitudes. They are often found in the south in warmer climates. The leaves are large and waxy. The flowers are large, usually white, cream, or tinted with pink or lavender.
29. AMERICAN ELM (Ulmus americana)
Otherwise known as the white elm, it can be found alongside streams and rocky hillsides in Kansas, its native home. Many of the trees have been lost due to Dutch elm disease. It can be distinguished by exceptionally large trunk and wide spread crown. One of the largest American elms is the "Custer elm" in Council Grove, Kansas.

SYCAMORE (Platanus occidentalis)
The sycamore is commonly found along streams and bottomlands. It can be 70 to 100 feet or more in height and recognized by its mottled bark. When the tree is young, the whitish inner bark can be seen as thin, irregular pieces of outer bark are shed. Older trees have a reddish or yellowish brown color to their bark. The bark is split and shed because it does not stretch when the tree grows. The sycamore can also be recognized by ball-like fruits that persist on the tree through the winter.


31. PAPER BIRCH (Betula papyrifera)
This tree is distinguished by its gleaming white bark, which peels off in papery strips. The inner bark has an orange color, and was used by the Indians to make canoes because it is waterproof. The twigs of this tree are thin and droop slightly; the leaves are small and oval.
32. GOLDEN RAIN TREE (Koelreuteria paniculata)
This tree is native to Asia and is widely planted as an ornamental. In July, the tree has branched groups of yellow, sweet pea-like flowers. These flowers dry to a brown color and persist far into the winter. The leaves have 7 to 15 three-lobed leaflets which are round toothed.

COTTONWOOD (Populus deltoides)
This is the eastern cottonwood, and it is the state tree of Kansas. It grows best near water, and the settlers saw cottonwoods on the prairie as a sign of nearby sources of water. This is a fast growing tree which is used in shelter belts, but the branches can break in strong winds. The leaves, which rustle in the wind, can be identified by their triangular shape.


34. GINKGO (Ginkgo biloba)
Sometimes called the maiden hair, the Ginkgo is native to China, being introduced to the west in the 1750's. It is almost identical to trees from 200 million years ago that are found imbedded as fossils. Each tree is male or female; only females have fruits, which give off a foul odor. The leaf can be identified by its fan shape and its parallel venation. 
35. SILVER MAPLE (Acer saccharinum)
Also known as the soft maple, the silver maple is a fast growing tree. Because it has soft branches, the tree will break easily in a strong wind. The bark is also very easily removed. It can be identified by its pointed, deeply lobed leaves, which are green on top and silvery underneath.
36. absent [sic]
37. BALD CYPRESS (Taxodium distichum)
This conifer has short leaves that are soft and flat. The leaves turn an orange-brown before they drop in autumn. Distinguishing characteristics of this tree are its feathery leaves, fan shaped base, and modified roots growing out of the water. These "knees" are hollow and are believed to provide air for the tree's roots when it is growing in water.
38. CATALPA (Catalpa bignonioides)
This large tree is a native to the mid-western states. Its leaves are large and heart-shaped. The catalpa is characterized by showy clusters of white flowers, thickly spotted with brownish purple. Its long, slender pods stay on the tree all winter.
39. PECAN (Carya illinoensis)
This tree is native to the southern United States. Its primary commercial use is for its nuts; the trees are planted in orchards for this purpose. The wood is brittle and has no real commercial value. Squirrels find the pecan a valuable food source in the fall and winter. It is the largest of the hickories (up to 100 ft.) and can be identified by its cylindrical, pointed fruit.
40. BLUE SPRUCE (Picea pungens)
Blue spruce normally occurs at high elevation, that have cold winters and hot dry summers. The needles appear to have a bluish color because of a waxy resin that helps the tree to resist droughts. Spruces can be from pines by the square needles of spruces as compared to the rounded needles of pines.


A tree trail can be a valuable asset to your community. Biology classes and other people from the community can use the trail to observe, understand, and enjoy nature. This type of outdoor experience can greatly increase an understanding of trees and how they are important to our lives.

Expert help in planning is helpful and can be obtained by consulting a naturalist. Naturalists in your area can be found by contacting agencies such as the Wildlife and Parks Department, County Extension Office, or local college.

It is best to plan a trail in a loop pattern. The length of the trail will be determined by your location. For a one-quarter mile trail, 15-20 features are sufficient.

For the tree trail at ESU, Graviply was used for labeling the trees. Graviply is a hard plastic that consists of two layers of different colors. An engraver is used to form the letters that appear the color of the bottom layer. Graviply was ordered from Industrial Arts Supply Co., 5724 West 36th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55416-2594. The labels bearing the common and scientific names were then screwed into the trees. A spring was placed between the tree and label to allow for tree growth. For trees and bushes that are too small or have too dense foliage, markers will be needed that are placed on the ground. Markers were ordered from Aluminum Label, S & W Supply Company, Box 275, Girard, KS 66743. Because of weathering and tree growth, the labels will have to be replaced periodically. The trail should also be checked frequently for vandalism.

Your tree trail needs a guide pamphlet. This pamphlet can range anywhere from a one-page flyer to a booklet. Regardless of size, your pamphlet should have information about each tree which pertains to the purpose of your tree trail. For example, tree histories, identification, and the tree's relationship to ecology can be mentioned. Drawings and pictures are additional options.

For more information, the following sources might be helpful:

Trail Planning and Layout, Byron L. Ashbaugh and Raymond J. Kordish, National Audubon Society, Nature Center Planning Division, New York, NY. National Audubon Society, Inc., 1971.

"Trails for Enjoying Nature", The Conservationist, Alan Mapes, Jl/Ag '82, Vol. 37, pg 22-29.

American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums, 1965 Special Issue, '63.

For identification and other information:

Stephens, H.A. 1969. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines in Kansas. Regents Press of Kansas, Lawrence. 250 pages.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS - The following members of Tri Beta contributed to the completion of the tree trail: Pam Baldridge, Scott Baxter, Todd Gordon, Janet Graham, Ann Marie Johnson, Mark LaBarge, Cindy Palmer, Phyllis Schmitz, Theresa Spradling, Tanya Tims, Lisa Volland, Christine Yoder, and Dr. Dwight Moore, sponsor. We thank Gilbert Leisman for helping set up the route of the tree trail. We thank Drs. Robert Clarke, Gilbert Leisman and James Mayo for critically reading an early draft of this manuscript. We thank C. F. Gladfelter, Riley Stormont,
and Mary Bogan and her staff at William Allen White Library for information about the history of the trees at ESU. We thank Roger Ferguson and Richard Weatherholt for help with materials. The cover photo was furnished by University Relations, E.S.U., Kim Maxwell, Director.


Because of financial problems, we were unable to issue numbers 3 and 4 of Volume 33. These two numbers would have been mailed in February and April of 1987. We have been given the green light for at least two numbers in the present volume, with some hope for all four. At present, we are attempting to build an endowment fund that would ensure continued publication of four numbers each academic year into the future. The fund still has a long way to go. If you care to contribute (and I hope you will), please send your contribution to Endowment Office, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas 66801-5087. Be sure to indicate that it is intended for The Kansas School Naturalist fund. Thank you for your continued interest and support.

-- Editor, Robert F. Clarke

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