Tree Mysterious

mystery tree.JPG

Well, I’m stumped. I just can’t figure out what kind of tree this is. I’ve looked in online guides and in the several tree books I have, but nothing is quite matching. (It may simply be that I’m an incompetent researcher.)

I quickly dismissed the idea that these trees that I’ve found here and there on the north-facing slope were immature cherry trees. The leaves aren’t right. Then I wondered if it might be a hawthorn, but the leaves only come close to that.

For a while I speculated that these little trees might be black gums (also known to some as pepperidge), but when I began looking into that matter, again, the leaves betrayed me. Black gum are well known for their vivid red displays in the early fall in Missouri, but the photo above is only about three weeks old. The plant was still holding its nice, if pale, green well after the other trees in the forest had flamed out.

The best guess I have now is that it may be a farkleberry. Even that is tenuous, though. Farkleberries (which go by a half dozen other names) do grow in Missouri, and they have a delicate, bulbous white blossom in the early spring. I’m pretty sure I would have seen those before if they’d been there.

Here’s another photo that shows their branching pattern a little bit.

mystery tree 2.JPG

So do any of my gracious readers have any suggestions? I promise that if it turns out to be something that I really should have known, I will humbly admit it so.

Missouri calendar:

  • Naught for today. Seems like they could have come up with something.

8 Responses to “Tree Mysterious”

  1. Tjilpi Says:



  2. Florida Cracker Says:

    Leaves are too big for what my books show as farkle/sparkle berry HERE.

    It’s a very PawPaw looking leaf … maybe a little nitrogen starved.

  3. Wayne Says:

    I agree with FC on the sparkleberries, but the leaves look too elongated for pawpaws. My first thought was cherry, as well. Was this photo taken recently – our cherries have all dropped their leaves. Ahh – I see – 3 weeks.

    If it’s a juvenile the leaf shape and coloration may be atypical of the adult plant.

  4. Rurality Says:

    My first thought was pawpaw too but it’s not quite right for that, I don’t think. How big are the leaves? It’s a little hard to tell the scale. Could it be a rhododendron of some sort?

  5. pablo Says:

    Rurality – the leaves are 3 to 4 inches long, and inch across. And they are a bit waxy, like a rhododendron would be, but I’ve never seen any flowers on these.

  6. Jenn Says:

    My thought was Rhodi, too. But I’m no expert. That second view just looks very typical of the growth habit. Are the undersides of the leaves sort of fuzzy?

    The leaves don’t quite look like pawpaw.

    Keep us informed, I’m curious to know what it turns out to be.

  7. Cathy Says:

    Could it be a young sassafras?

  8. Xris (Flatbush Gardener) Says:

    My first thought also was that it’s a cherry of some kind. How long are the leaves? Are the margins smooth or toothed? They look like they’re closely alternate along the stems; is that accurate, or are they opposite?

    I don’t think it’s a sassafras. That would have irregularly shaped leaves, even in a young specimen.

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