Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - August 09, 2011

From: Kent, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Best of Smarty, Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of tree on Kent State University in Ohio
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello. I am fond of a very large (wide) tree on a university campus in Ohio. I have tried many plant ID search engines to try to figure out what it is. It is at least 12 feet tall and at least that wide with deciduous green leaves that are about 4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide at widest. Leaves are same size all over the tree and leaf density is very high. Branches are very low to the ground and go all the way up in a giant ball. The bark is smooth and gray. There is one large trunk about 1.5 feet wide. At about 1.5 feet high the trunk splits into 25-35 trunks 2-4 inches wide. Leaves are simple and alternate but not regularly spaced. Veins are alternate, with the main vein from the stem going to the finely-pointed top of the leaf. There are 4 points on each side and the leaf looks like a miniature Christmas tree. I found a single fruiting body on a branch on a short green stalk that comes to a marble-sized ball that has four ridges near the top. The husk of this has light brown wiggly hair-like projections about 1/8 to 3/16 inches long curled over at the top and appears to have two seeds inside about 3/8 inches long and 1/4 inch wide, triangular shaped, but with deflated sides. The drainage in the area under the tree is often not good; yet, it obviously thrives there. It gets direct sun all day. I think I am in growing zone 5b. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

ANSWER:

From your very thorough and detailed description, I think that the tree you describe is Fagus sylvatica 'Asplenifolia' (cutleaf or fernleaf European beech).  This is a cultivar of Fagus sylvatica (European beech) and, as its common name suggests, is native to Europe and not to North America.  There is mention of another cultivar, Fagus sylvatica 'Laciniata' that seems to be very similar, but I couldn't discover if the two names might be synonyms for the same cultivar.  You can see more photos by 'Googling' the botanical name.

The grounds department (or equivalent) of most universities keep an inventory of landscaping plants.   You might check with Kent State University Grounds Department to see if they have such a list and see if the cutleaf European beech is on it.

If this isn't your plant, you can visit our Plant Identification page to find several plant identification forums that accept photos for identification.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Identifying plant
October 21, 2007 - What plant is usually found growing in low-lying freshwater marshy places with a single, straight-stemmed plant that grows to about one-to-two feet in height. The branches and leaves are sparse with ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of bush/vine with purple berries
August 09, 2014 - I was clearing fence line and came across this plant it looks like a Bush but underneath grows like a vine it has long broad leaves that reminded me of Polk salad but it grows berry clusters the berri...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub looking like honeysuckle in Odessa TX
October 02, 2011 - Bought a shrub in Pecos, TX yesterday. It looks like honeysuckle but the brightest flat orange I have ever seen. Flower and greenery looked like honeysuckle but when I looked on the Internet under or...
view the full question and answer

How to tell Monarda citriodora from Monarda punctata.
September 18, 2015 - Hello! I'm wondering if you could clarify the differences between Monarda citriodora and Monarda punctata. Perhaps they do a lot of hybridizing, but I have plenty of conflicting info on...
view the full question and answer

Poison ivy in Hilliard OH?
June 15, 2009 - I found a plant with five jagged leaves growing close to the ground in the trees of Ohio. Is this poison ivy or a similar plant?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.