Tree identification: how to identify trees

Photograph of a person identifying a tree from a twig

Learn how to identify trees with our top tips on what to look out for (Photo: Phil Formby/WTML)

All trees have clues and features that can help with identification. You just need to know what to look out for. This quick guide to tree identification will give you a few basic hints and tips.

The UK has at least fifty species of native trees and shrubs, and many more species of introduced non-native trees. Some can be easy to identify, but others can be more difficult depending on your experience.

There are many features, or parts of the tree, that give you clues to what species it is.

Basic tree identification tips

  • Look at the leaves or needles. Is it a broadleaf (usually deciduous) or is it a conifer (usually with needles or scales)?
  • Different features will be present through the seasons. You can use twigs, leaf buds and bark on leafless winter broadleaf trees.
  • Take notice of the surrounding area such as hedgerows, fields, parks, woodland or close to water. Some species are more likely to grow near water, in scrubland, parkland or in woodland.
  • Use as many features as you can, the more you use the more certain your identification will be. Take into account the overall shape and size of the tree, bark, leaves or needles, flowers, fruits, leaf buds and twigs.

Identify trees using our Tree ID app for Android and iPhone.

Other ways to identify trees

smooth leaved elm leaves
Spindle blossom

A-Z guide to British trees

Explore our guide to the trees of Britain and learn how to identify each species with images and descriptions.

Explore British trees

alder buckthorn leaf

Can you identify British trees?

Identify native and common non-native trees in the UK, whatever the season using our free Tree ID app.

Get our free Tree ID app