Tree Identification Tools

Dichotomous Keys
A dichotomous key is a tool that can be used to identify trees or flowers, animals, rocks, fish, and more.
"Dichotomous" means "divided into two parts." Therefore, a dichotomous key will always give two choices in each step and following all the steps will lead you to the name of the tree you're identifying.
  • Our online dichotomous tree key will help you identify some of the coniferous and deciduous trees native to Wisconsin.

  •  ​​Our printable summer  LEAF Tree ID Key and Tree Identification Terms will help you identify some of the coniferous and deciduous trees native to Wisconsin using their leaves. This key is part of LEAF Field Enhancement 1, Tree Identification.

  • ​Our printable LEAF Winter Tree ID Key will help you identify deciduous trees native to Wisconsin using buds, twigs, and other features.

  • Tips for printing the Winter Tree Identifiction Key:
    • Choose "Lanscape" page orientation​
    • Choose "Print on both sides"
    • Legal size paper works best, though Letter will also work
    • To ensure the pages print in booklet form be certain the paper is flipping on the short side; if the second page is printing upside down the pages are not flipping on the short side.

  • Urban Tree Key - Final.pdf - Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry
Lesson Idea
Here is a high school lab that Biology teacher Kevin Hall created. It uses the LEAF online Tree Key. ​
Word Document   PDF

Print, cut out, and laminate these cards of common Wisconsin trees. Hang them on trees to be identified or use them in the classroom. They are helpful resources when leaves, fruit, or seeds are not present or are too high on a tree to be examined. Supplement to LEAF Unit 7-8, Field Enhancement 1, Tree Identification.


Other Tree Identification Web Resources


Key to Wisconsin Woody Plants for the iPod Link​

American Forests' Tree Doctor
Confused but curious about pruning? Baffled by bugs? Stumped by a tree ID? American Forests' Tree Doctor is in and online. Send your tree-related questions to an expert at  and they'll respond directly to you. 

Dichotomous Tree Key - EEK! Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
This is the DNR's tree ID site for kids. It utilizes descriptions and line drawings. Link
National Arbor Day Foundation
Detailed information on dozens of commonly planted landscape trees that grow throughout the United States as well as tree terms, forest layers, tree classification, and anatomy of tree. Link​

Also from the National Arbor Day Foundation, line drawings of tree leaves found throughout the U.S. and an animated "how to" identify trees guide. Link
Tree and Shrub Identification - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Basic ID key with photos and descriptions of many Wisconsin tree species. Link
Trees of Wisconsin - Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
Features an on-line key and list of tree species with photos. Link

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Herbarium
An incredible collection of identification resources including photos, keys, and descriptions of natural communities, fungi, plants, and more. Link

UI Plants
A database on woody landscape plant identification, culture and usage for the Midwest, including native and introduced species and their major varieties and cultivars. Search by common or scientific name. Images and information on habitat, leaves, buds, stems, flowers, fruits, fall color, bark, and culture. Link