While inspired by Gabriel Popkin’s “Cure Yourself to Tree Blindness”,  I photographed and studied a few trees today. In the article which is linked below,  Popkin describes a sensation called tree blindness and what it’s like to cure it. I believe tree blindness to be the state of ignorance that most of us find ourselves in when we encounter nature as a novice. In my opinion, you don’t know you’re tree blind until your curiosity finally drives you to learn about the environment around you. Tree blind is that feeling you get when you don’t know the name of a tree, but you want to. I definitely had that feeling while I was in the field this morning.


Red Maple

This is a red maple tree, AKA Acer rubrum.

Red Maple

As seen in the pictures, the leaves are oppositely arranged in simple complexity. The leaf margin is lobed and toothed. I found this tree in my backyard, which is located in eastern Ohio. Red, sugar, and black maple trees are responsible for maple syrup production. However, trees need to be a minimum of 10″ in diameter to be eligible for tapping, so this specific tree is unable to be tapped.


Black Poplar


The black poplar tree, AKA Populus nigra, is defined by alternate leaf arrangement, mostly simple leaflets with a few complex exceptions, and serrate leaf margins. This tree is also located in my backyard in eastern Ohio. Most species of poplars are dioecious. This means that they develop individual male and female flowers. The flowers are pollinated by the wind.

Boxelder Maple

This boxelder maple or Acer negundo was found in Friendship Park, which is located in Smithfield, Ohio. The boxelder maple is characterized by opposite compound leaves, with 3 to 5 toothed leaflets. The boxelder maple has been called the poison ivy tree because it’s 3 parted leaves resemble those of poison ivy. Fun fact: the boxelder maple is the only maple in Ohio with compound leaves.

Pignut Hickory


This pignut hickory was found in the woods along a county road in Smithfield, Ohio. The scientific name for this tree is Carya glabra. The leaves are pinnately compound and alternately arranged. Each leaf has 5 (sometimes 7) serrated leaflets. The wood of hickory trees is strong, flexible, and shock resistant, so the wood is often used in sporting goods and tool handles.



This mulberry tree, also known as a Morus tree,  is located in my backyard in eastern Ohio. My tree hasn’t quite bloomed yet, but the leaves are simple, oval and lobed with toothed edges. The leaves are arranged alternately. Mulberries can be made into wine, juice, tea, or jam and they are an excellent source of vitamin C.


The cherry tree is also known as a Prunus tree. The leaves are identifiable because they are alternately arranged, pinnately complex, and oblong with entire margins. I found this tree in a section of woods in Rayland, Ohio. Cherry trees have lenticels in their bark, which are pores that facilitate direct gas exchange between the tree and the air around it.


I found this walnut tree in the woods near my house. The scientific name for a walnut tree is Juglans. My walnut tree didn’t have many reachable leaves, but they typically have alternate arrangement with pinnately complex leaflets that are serrately toothed. Walnut trees have deep taproot that produce chemicals called juglones. Juglones prevent other plants in a close proximity to the tree from growing.

Shagbark Hickory

This shagbark hickory was found in the same location as the walnut and cherry tree – in the woods of Rayland, Ohio. The shagbark hickory’s scientific name is Carya ovata. It is identifiable by alternate pinnately complex leaves with serrated margins. The wood from these trees is used as firewood and also as a smoky flavoring agent for barbecuing, according to


Is my tree blindness cured?

Not even close. I am definitely still tree blind even after all the field research from today, but that’s the main reason I joined the Ohio Plants class. I hope that week by week I start noticing things in nature, like Popkin said would happen. I relate heavily to this article because he created the mood that I felt while photographing and botanizing these plants. I started recognizing when I had already seen each leaf type before, unless there were stark differences in the arrangement, complexity, or leaflet shape. I call that a win for today.