Plant ID forum: mystery tree

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shiloh
Sep 21, 2016 11:25 AM CST
Found this tree in Louisville, Kentucky. I've looked through all my books but no luck identifying it. My first guess was persimmon, but the leaf shape and bark are wrong. Please help!

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shiloh
Sep 29, 2016 7:56 AM CST
Bump. Confused
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Sep 29, 2016 8:22 AM CST
It has an interesting growth pattern, but I don't recognize it. It will probably help to tell us where the tree is growing along with anything else you notice about it.
Porkpal
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Irises Keeper of Poultry Roses Dragonflies Birds
Bulbs Foliage Fan Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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Henhouse
Sep 29, 2016 2:28 PM CST
Are the leaves showing any color yet? Any fruit, seeds or nuts? Evidence of past flowers? They look too small to be a Persimmon.. I considered Styrax japonicus... but it doesn't look right..and I'm not sure about the bark.. I think the bark is smoother on Styrax. The other tree I considered was the Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus). It has rough bark and has an awkward growth habit.
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Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
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ViburnumValley
Oct 1, 2016 8:18 AM CST
Hi Shiloh:

I'll be the irascible curmudgeon, and complain about the quality of the images. In none of those above can one make out whether this tree is opposite/alternate arrangement nor whether those are simple or compound leaves.

Feel much better now...

From the last picture alone, showing the habit, I would say this is a Styphnolobium japonicum (formerly Sophora japonica) - Japanese Pagoda Tree or Japanese Scholar Tree. The other species it has some reminiscence of is Robinia sp., possibly an older specimen of the clone called 'Twisty Baby'. It seems like in a relatively sunny location that there would be evidence of former flowers, seeds, etc. - but I can't make out any there.

This looks like a front yard tree, possibly in one of the Highlands neighborhoods. I work for Louisville Metro Parks, and I would be happy to go look at this tree in person and make the positive ID - if you could provide an address.

Barring that...take some clear pictures of stems, leaves, and buds. It is always easier to do so by collecting a sample and taking it to where there is good light, and you can focus on details (top and bottom sides) of leaves, buds, etc.
John

shiloh
Oct 4, 2016 3:24 PM CST
John, I agree about the image quality. I was not entirely forthright when I said "found this tree in Louisville . . ". My sister actually found it and sent me the pics. So, I can't go out and take more (I'm in Nashville). From the close-up of the foliage, a portion in the upper right corner makes me think the leaves or leaflets may be opposite. Not sure if pinnately compound. Of your suggestions, Robinia seems more likely to me, except for the leaflet size. Again, the picture makes scale difficult to determine, but the leaflets look to be in the 3"-4" range, whereas I think Robinia is more like 1"-2" range.

I will see if my sister can get more pictures and the address.

And thanks for all the responses. At least I have some better ideas now.
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Irises Keeper of Poultry Roses Dragonflies Birds
Bulbs Foliage Fan Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Image
Henhouse
Oct 5, 2016 6:55 PM CST
I think John could be right about Sophora (sorry, they've re-named so many plants I can't keep up with the new names).. Robinias have a rounder leaf than what I can make out from the pictures. I was thinking it might be a smaller tree because it was so close to the house.... (I should really know better than to think that) Rolling my eyes.
When counting, try not to mix chickens with blessings.

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