Our world is filled with nature’s wonders. From mountains and oceans to beaches and forests, every region is filled with the most precious gift of nature – trees. Trees are the reason for our existence. The oxygen they give out helps us breathe and stay alive. This article will discuss the 28 most common trees in the world. Read on to learn!
- 1. Red Alder (alnus rubra)
- 2. Oak (quercus)
- 3. Sycamore (platanus occidentalis)
- 4. Pine (pinus)
- 5. Fir (abies)
- 6. Elm (ulmus)
- 7. Willow (salix)
- 8. Magnolia (magnolia grandiflora)
- 9. Birch (betula)
- 10. Tulip Tree (liriodendron tulipifera)
- 11. Butternut Tree (juglans cinerea)
- 12. Cedar Trees (cedrus)
- 13. Ash Trees (fraxinus)
- 14. Aspen Trees (populus tremuloides)
- 15. American Beech (fagus grandifolia)
- 16. Basswood (tilia americana)
- 17. Boxelder Maple (acer negundo)
- 18. Cherry Trees (prunus)
- 19. Cottonwood Trees (populus deltoids)
- 20. Crabapple Trees (malus)
- 21. Crepe Myrtles (lagerstroemia)
- 22. Cypress (cupressus)
- 23. Flowering Dogwood (cornus florida)
- 24. Ficus Trees (ficus benjamina)
- 25. Fig Trees (ficus carica)
- 26. Palm Trees (arecaceae)
- 27. Linden (tilia)
- 28. Poplar Tree (populus)
From climbing the highest branch to having a summertime picnic, many of our best memories are rooted in nature. Trees are vital for our existence. It is not easy to imagine what our world would look like without great and mighty forests, parks, or even that one single tree we have in our own backyards.
Trees are no stranger to our planet. They have been around for thousands of years. Currently, our Mother Earth is home to more than 3 trillion types of trees that play a vital role in our lives and enable us to enjoy them. Our survival depends on all plant life worldwide, including grasslands, underwater vegetation, and trees that currently grow on our planet.
Learning how to identify tree species is an important skill, just like knowing how to start a campfire. Different types of trees have different heights, leaves, branches, barks, and colors that are all essential characteristics of tree species. If you can spot the differences between these characteristics, you are one step closer to becoming a tree identification master!
Scroll through this list of the 28 most common trees in the world below to learn more about the mighty species that protect our water, clean our air and provide habitat for the wildlife around us.
1. Red Alder (alnus rubra)
The Red Alder is a deciduous tree found mainly in western North America. It grows in barren areas or areas that have burnt down in the past. The tree’s roots interact with the soil and add nitrogen to it. Thus, it mainly grows in soils that need nitrogen to get healthier. Red Alder trees have thin gray barks with white patches and wavy, toothed leaves.
2. Oak (quercus)
Oak trees have more than 300 known species globally. There are over 90 different species in the United States alone. They produce hard and durable wood that is resistant to most diseases. The White Oaks have broad leaves, and they produce sweet acorns that take a year to mature. On the other hand, Black/Red Oaks have bristled leaves and produce bitter-tasting acorns that take two years to mature.
3. Sycamore (platanus occidentalis)
The Sycamore is a large hardwood deciduous tree. The wood from this tree is tough and dense. Sycamores can grow up to 40 meters tall and have a flaky bark which gives the trunk a red and brown multi-colored appearance with patches of white and gray. True Sycamore trees are broadleaf species. Their leaves have toothed edges and three to five lobes.
4. Pine (pinus)
Pine trees are large, evergreen, coniferous trees that are very easy to identify. They produce softwood and hard cones, called pine cones. Some species of pine trees can even grow up to 81 meters tall. Their leaves consist of clusters of green needles. White Pine and Red Pine are two common Pine tree species found throughout North America and Europe.
5. Fir (abies)
The Fir tree is an evergreen, coniferous tree that has approximately 50 different species. As it grows, it produces green, purple, or blue upward-pointing cones. These cones turn golden brown as the tree grows up. Fir trees have a dense needle distribution that gives them a fuller and greener appearance. The needles are soft and flat and tend to have two white stripes at the bottom.
6. Elm (ulmus)
Elm trees are common trees found primarily in forests. There are about 35 different types of Elm trees, including the American and European Elms. They are hardwood, deciduous trees and are therefore difficult to work with as a building material. They have pointed oval-shaped leaves that range between 7 and 16 cm long.
7. Willow (salix)
Willow trees are deciduous trees with around 400 different species. They have the most distinctive shape out of any tree in the world. Their long drooping branches have a striking appearance. Willow trees can either be small shrub-like trees or grow to medium height. They have elongated oval-shaped leaves in green, yellow, or blue. Most willow tree species feature dark, furrowed barks.
8. Magnolia (magnolia grandiflora)
Magnolia trees are evergreen or deciduous trees that grow in a range of environments. They are the most obvious choice of tree to plant in a garden. They grow fast and have softwood. These trees produce large, fragrant flowers and cones that look like berries. The easiest way to identify a Magnolia tree is by the fruit (cone-shaped seed pods) that is unique compared to other kinds of trees.
9. Birch (betula)
Birch trees are a tree family containing about 60 species of hardwood trees. They have a papery, white, or silver bark and long braces that droop slightly. They have small, thin, triangular leaves. The wood from Birch trees is often used as firewood or in the furniture construction industry. The oil extracted is used in both cooking and medicine.
10. Tulip Tree (liriodendron tulipifera)
The tulip tree is a softwood tree with attractive yellow-green or orange-yellow flowers. For this reason, it is used very often for aesthetic purposes rather than construction. It has a brown or ashy gray bark that darkens as the tree matures in the presence of moist soil. Its leaves are almost rectangular and feature four to six lobes.
11. Butternut Tree (juglans cinerea)
The Butternut tree is a slow-growing, deciduous tree native to North America. You can easily identify it by its small green balls (edible nuts) that grow among its leaves. The Butternut tree grows in moist soil and has a light gray bark that gets rougher with age. It has large, pointed leaves that grow directly from the branches.
12. Cedar Trees (cedrus)
Cedar trees are large trees that can reach a towering height of 50 meters. They are often used as ornamental trees. It is pretty easy to identify Cedar trees as they are one of the few kinds of trees with scaled leaves. They have dark green or blue foliage that grows in spiral clusters.
13. Ash Trees (fraxinus)
Ash trees are common in countries that have harsh climates – hot summers and chilly winters. The two main species of the Ash tree are the Green Ash with green leaves and White Ash with white leaves. However, the appearance of both these types is almost identical, which is why it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.
14. Aspen Trees (populus tremuloides)
Aspen trees are native to cold regions with cool summers. They are primarily found in the north of the Northern Hemisphere. They extend south in high-altitude areas such as mountains. The leaves of the Aspen tree are broad but relatively small. The petioles are very flat. They give the tree a trembling appearance even when it’s not windy.
15. American Beech (fagus grandifolia)
The American Beech is a sturdy tree native to the eastern United States and southeast Canada. It grows to a height of 50-80 feet. It has a smooth, light gray bark. Unlike other trees on this list, the American Beech enjoys shade and can flourish very well without a lot of sunlight. The branches of the tree are pretty hard and strong. The leaves are small, toothy, and glossy.
16. Basswood (tilia americana)
The Basswood tree is native to eastern North America. It can grow as tall as 80 feet. It produces white flowers that bloom by mid-June and fill the air with a pleasant fragrance. Basswood is commonly found in deciduous forests throughout the Midwest, especially in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The tree needs a specific amount of nitrogen and high pH levels to grow. It has gorgeous leaves that shine when the sunlight is directly overhead.
17. Boxelder Maple (acer negundo)
The Boxelder Maple is species of maple tree native to North America. It is a fast-growing tree and is simply called Boxelder in some countries. Even though this tree is common, it is not very popular because it is very short-lived. It is vulnerable to pests and insects all over the world. The branches of the Boxelder tend to shed in a short time, and the trunk starts to weaken. You can identify the tree by its ash-colored compound leaves and thick twigs.
18. Cherry Trees (prunus)
The Cherry tree is a fast-growing, medium-sized, deciduous tree commonly found in North and South America. It has a brownish-gray bark with deep green, oval-shaped leaves. It usually grows in moist hillsides or rich soiled bottomland. The wood of this tree is strong, light, stiff, pale, and coarse-grained. It is always in demand in the building material industry for tools, fence posts, cabinets, and even tires. Apart from being a great source of timber, the Cherry tree is also an excellent food source for many wildlife creatures.
19. Cottonwood Trees (populus deltoids)
The Cottonwood tree is a large, fast-growing, deciduous tree commonly found in North America and Mexico. It grows best in areas with rich and moist soil, such as lakes and streams. It is considered an ornamental tree because of its appeal. The Cottonwood has a smooth, light green-yellow bark that turns ashy gray as the tree matures. The leaves of the tree are triangular-shaped and relatively long.
20. Crabapple Trees (malus)
Crabapple trees are small trees belonging to the rose family (Rosaceae). They are stiffer in form and spinier than the standard apple tree. They are deciduous and have pretty attractive fall foliage. Crabapple trees start as shrubs and have a moderate growth rate. Most Crabapples have a relatively short to a medium lifespan that hardly exceeds 100 years. The tree has oval-shaped leaves with serrated edges and a grayish-brown bark.
21. Crepe Myrtles (lagerstroemia)
The Crepe Myrtle is a family of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees belonging to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, northern Australia, and some parts of Oceania. It is mostly planted and thrives well in regions with warm climates. The tree produces flowers in shades of white, purple, and red, depending on the species. It has dark green, oval-shaped leaves and a colorful, mottled bark that sheds when the tree reaches maturity.
22. Cypress (cupressus)
The Cypress tree is a coniferous tree native to the west coast of North America. It grows in small pockets where the soil is the moistest. It is a large tree that grows to an average height of 130 feet. It has a life expectancy of 10 to 25 years. Cypress trees have drooping branches and attractive dark green foliage. They produce the finest timbers in the world that are resistant to weather and insect damage. Wood from the Cypress tree has traditionally been used to make paddles, dishes, and bows.
23. Flowering Dogwood (cornus florida)
A Flowering Dogwood tree is a small-sized, deciduous tree commonly found in eastern North America and northern Mexico. It grows well in areas exposed to a lot of water and a good amount of sunshine. The Flowering Dogwood is commonly known for its light yellow and white flowers that blossom during spring. The bark of this tree is quite scaly and has an ash-brown color. The leaves are oval-shaped that turn a beautiful brown-red color during fall.
24. Ficus Trees (ficus benjamina)
Ficus trees are also called weeping figs and are known for their glossy, deep green foliage. They have long lives in the wild and as domestic plants. They are low-maintenance plants with black or white bumps on the stems. The most common Ficus species, Midnight, has curly and dark leaves. On the other hand, Starlight has deep green leaves with white edges, and Judith has deep green leaves with yellow edges.
Related: Rubber tree varieties
25. Fig Trees (ficus carica)
The Fig tree is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia. It is part of the mulberry family. It grows well in deep and moist soils. It is a small, shrub-like tree that grows to a height between 22 and 32 feet. The Fig tree has fragrant waxy leaves as well as attractive flowers. It has a smooth, white bark and produces delicious, fleshy fruit.
Related: 31 Fantastic Fig tree varieties
26. Palm Trees (arecaceae)
The Palm tree is a tropical tree that has more than 2600 species. It is one of the most planted trees worldwide because it provides a range of benefits. It is cultivated for food products, wood supply, oil, fuel, and much more. It has evergreen leaves, known as fan palms, that have adjacent leaflets known as fronds. You can find the Palm tree in parks, coastal boulevards, and hotels. However, these trees only grow in regions that do not experience frost.
27. Linden (tilia)
Linden trees are large deciduous shade trees with large heart-shaped leaves and clusters of fragrant yellowish-white flowers. There are around 30 different species of linden trees and shrubs that typically grow to a height between 65 and 130 feet. You can quickly identify a Linden tree by its thick furrowed trunk, rounded crown, and dense leafy foliage. Most Linden tree species thrive in full sun but need partial shade. They grow best in moist soil with excellent drainage.
28. Poplar Tree (populus)
Lastly, we have the famous Poplar tree, a large deciduous tree that produces small clusters of drooping flowers. You can identify Poplar trees by their white/gray/black barks and triangular, ovate leaves. They are fast-growing trees and grow well in wet, moist ground. The White Poplar is the most common Poplar tree. It has a white bark and white and green leaves. The Black Poplar and Balsam poplar are also common Poplar species.