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Memory Tricks For Identifying Tricky Sticks

Page history last edited by Will 9 years, 9 months ago


I associate the common name with the plant and the scientific name so I have something to base it on that is more familliar than latin.

American Elm: Elm sounds like Ulm So it is backwards; Ulmus americana. Also the Elm tree is shaped kind of like and umbrella and shields the rain so remember Ulmbrella, kind of like it's raining, get under the Ulmbrella. Ullmus americana.
Enlgish Walnut:

Regia sounds like Regina, could be an Engish name, so Juglans regia

Pecan: Carya sounds like Carrie; "Carrie is from illinois;" Carya illinoensis (small ball like fruit; in Juglandaceae fam)
Norway Maple:

Platanoides sounds like a platte for land lay-out; wide and broad like the sheet of paper that the platte is on; Acer platanoides

Also, the tree is becoming invasive, which one might think of as annoying; "annoying" sounds like "platanoides"

Tree of Heaven:   Ailanthus sounds like Olympus- the Gods in "heaven" are on Mt. Olympus; Alainthus atissima
Queen Anne's Lace Daucus sounds like Duchess; not a queen, but close; carota carrot- carrot duchess; Daucus carota
 Chickory:  I always see it on the side of the road; I see Cicorium from in-the-bus; sounds like intybus; Cicorium intybus
Red Clover: Trifolium pratense (just like it means, "of pasture") Three leafed plant of the pasture- horses love clover, horses live in pastures; Trifolium pratense
Virgin's Bower: This is bad, but clematis sounds like Chlamydia to me! haha and a virgin should not have such a disease; Clematis virginianum
Beggar Ticks: Desmodium sounds like imodium- you might beg for immodium; ticks stick- those funny eye-shaped seeds that stick to you
Real Strawberry: Fragaria sound slike fragile- real strawberries are fragile and are not foreign- fragile from virginia; Fragaria virginiana
Milkweed: Looks long and tall like the mediical symbol asclepius; medical doctor from Syria; Asclepius syriaca
Hemp Dog Bane: Think cannabis; hemp; weed; canine for "dog"= cannabinum; Apocynum cannabinum
Cherry Birch Tree: Betula lent-a birch beer to me; barks smells like root beer; Betula lenta
Virginia Pine: Exactly like it sounds: Pinus virginiana
Common Blackberry: So common it is from PA; Rubus pennsylvanicus
Staghorn Sumac: Rhus sounds like red- red stems and fruit; typhina sounds like typhoid- bad disease; this plant=poison; Rhus typhina
Horse Nettle: The little fruits are round like the sun; solanum- horse from carolina; Solanum carolinense
Teasel: Sylvestris- the teasle head looks like sylvester the cat's tail; Dipsacus sylvestris
Wild Black Cherry: GW cut the cherry tree; he pruned it alright; prunus; serotina- daintily serrated edges; Prunus serotina

Asian Bittersweet :


Red Elm:

English Ivy:

European Wey:

Evening Primrose:


Winged Sumac:


Common Apple Tree:


Black Locust:

Many things are made and sold in Asia; sell sounds like cel-atstrus; orb could be some widget being sold; they sell orbs in Asia; celastrus orbiculatus 

The top of the plant kind of arcs over the stem; Arctium

Think Elm/Ulm (sounds so simillar) and red, rubra; presto, you have Ulmus rubra!

Hedera sounds like a snobby English woman's name; Hedera ilex

Pretend you are a colonist "It's the European way- tax us back ta the mother land"  Taxus baccta tee hee


Own the ethereal beauty when you are at the evening ball; Oenethera

I have always seen it near water; it is popular near the delta; Populus deltoides


She uses the ruse of being tired to cover up that she copes with drugs (poison plant);Ruse copallina

They love water; thyphoid comes from contaminated water; Typhylatafolia


In antiquity, males were not domestic; they did not back apple pies- but they can!; Malus domestica

Erica chewed gum; tatses like gum; in the Ericaceae family

Scientific name of Robinia Pseudoacacia. Robinia reminds me of robin from Batman and Robin, a pair of crime fighting superheroes. the Black Locust has paired thorns, just like bat man and robin are paired up



Think it's a cornus?? Perform the CORNUS TEST.It's as easy as ABC, all you have to do is

A.bend the leaf over and over (like a burger not a hot dog)until it forms a perfect crease

B.Open it up ...the leaves are now split in half but if it's a cornus, you should see white thread like subtances holding the halves together.



Pinus Strobus (White Pine) - Like STROBE lights


One good way of identifying  Platanus occidentalis could be by it's leaf.The bottom of the leaf is hairy so if you remember  "HAIRY BACKSIDE"!!!




Kalmia latifolia: (Mountain Laurel) The broad leaves on this tree are calming.


Polystichum acrostichoides: (Christmas fern) I think of a magical spell like the the movie Bed Knobs and Broomsticks

 (Treguna Mekoides is the first part of the spell to make objects come to life, it reminds me of this species name)



Goodyera pubescence: (Rattlesnake Plantain) -Has lines in design like Goodyear tires

                                                                - Think of Betty yelling PUBESCENSE at the screen while looking at this orchid



Quercus alba: (White Oak) Think of albino.


Rhus typhina:  (Staghorn Sumac) Think of sumac (as the poisonus sumac) which is dangerous as typhoid fever is dangerous. And you will rue the day that you got typhoid pronouned that same just spelled different (Rhus) and add an ssssssss.


Carpinius caroliniana:  (Muscle Wood) Think of the Asian Carp (or other carp) that are so strong and muscular they jump out of the water.


Caprifoliaceae Lonicera japonica : (Japanese Honeysuckle) Think of juice boxes; You suck capri suns which are in foil pouches, and you suck honeysuckles. If you loan your money to Sarah so she can go to Japan with her honey, you're a sucker.




Pinus virginiana (Virgina Pine)

     -remember by the funny pose Dr. McMillan did to mimic it

     - its ugly 


Salix nigra (Black Willow)

     -Likes to be near water, just like the Sycamore

     -Both are in Pocahontas


Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel)

     -Fruit is a 4-chambered capsule that looks like Janice the Muppet; flowers look like blonde hair too





"SEDGES have edges,

RUSHES are round,

GRASSES are hollow

Straight to the ground"

We met a guy named Ace in Canada= Canadian flag has a maple leaf on it= Maple genus is Acer!

I remember the family ending spelling - set it  to the mickey mouse tune (m-o-u-s-e) A-C-E-A-E 

Lagerstroemia indica- Lagers from India (lager is a type of beer)

The Box Elder Song

(sung to the tune of the Toreador song from the opera Carmen)

What lies before me?

Acer negundo

How do you know,

     how do you know?

Because...it has opposite pinnately compound leaves,

Can't you see, can't you see?!

That this is how I know...

     it's negundo,

it's Acer ne-gun-do.


(to the tune of the March of the Toreadors, still needs a little work)

Yes, it's a maple! Look at the samaras! It likes to grow by ponds and streams.

It can grow large, it's got many trunks, but it's not as strong as it seems.

It grows too quickly; its wood is real brittle; those trunks will splinter and break.

If you want to shade your home, or hang a swing, this is not a good choice to make.

That's box elder—Acer negundo. A wacky looking maple it's true.

But now that I've written this corny song I'll remember it and so will you.


(I in no way endorse the sentiments in the song below.)


For the beeches, it's easy to identify them by the rather pointy buds that kind of resemble the costume Madonna wore during her 1987 Who's That Girl tour


In a completely non sexist way if you remember Madonna as being a "beech" or another word that sounds close to it, look to see if you see her pointed costume any where on the tree, if so, it's a member of the Fagus genus


I always lump Norway and Sugar Maple together because the both have non serrate edges. I remember this by thinking that Norway is a really sweet place because i assume everyone there dresses crazy and skis all the time. So once you remember that you just have to look at the helicopter things and see if they're more than 90 degrees, if they are you have a Norway Maple!


For Pinus Virginiana we learned that McMillan finds it to be an unattractive tree. By grouping a Hillbilly from Virginia, i can remember it''s the ugly Pine tree from Virginia, Pinus Virginiana


to remember the difference between tsuga and pseudotsuga it helps to think that pseudotsuga has a larger name also has the larger needles of the two, making them easier to distinguish.


For wild strawberries i always think of how good they smell..Fragaria then take on virginiana and you have it


For silky dogwood you need to think of the characteristic red as well as the fact it is found among swampy areas (amomum) Cornus amomum

Comments (4)

bcc005@... said

at 10:38 am on Sep 22, 2009

I couldn't find the place where previous classes put their memory tricks- so I made one for us! Hope this helps- my werid brain and how I recall the names!

Dr. McMillan said

at 2:34 pm on Sep 22, 2009

I moved them here

kmf007 said

at 5:00 pm on Sep 22, 2009

I think of red clover as trifolium - three leafed but clover is so pretentious, trying to take over the field and that takes me to pratense, or at least close.
Also how about an update on the Food for Field Botanist? The olive spread? How about it/

bcc005@... said

at 3:31 pm on Oct 9, 2009

Sorry- couldn't figure out how to get my additions in the chart!

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