You are here

Taking Photos of Trees for Expert Identification and Urban Forest Inventories

Publication Number: IS2006
View as PDF: IS2006.pdf

Extension personnel often receive questions regarding the identification of a particular tree. Digital photography, email, and text messaging make submitting specimens for identification very quick and easy.

Digital Photography

  1. Take close-up photos of the specimen with a digital camera. Please consider the following:
    1. Select a specimen that shows as many distinguishing characteristics of a species as possible.
    2. If there is a dramatic variation in leaf shape on a single plant, include photographs of all leaf shapes (Figure 1).
    3. Unique characteristics are particularly important to include, such as thorns, twigs and branching pattern, or fruits and nuts (Figure 2).
    4. Include a photograph that shows the characteristics of the bark (Figure 3).
    5. Finally, send a photograph of the tree in the landscape to show its form (Figure 4).
    6. If necessary, crop the photos to reduce their size for easier downloading. 
  2. When sending your photographs to Extension personnel, include your contact information and any description you would like to provide about the plant, such as its size, history, or habitat. If you like, you may use the Tree Identification Request Form in the attached pdf. 
This is an image of leaves.
Figure 1. Leaf (enlarge image)
This is an image of tree flower.
Figure 2. Flower (enlarge image)
This is an image of bark.
Figure 3. Bark (enlarge image)
This is an image of a landscape and form of tree.
Figure 4. Landscape & form (enlarge image)


Information Sheet 2006 (POD-04-15)

By Jason Gordon, Assistant Extension Professor, Forestry; and John D. Kushla, Associate Extension/Research Professor, North Mississippi R&E Center.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Mississippi State University Extension Service is working to ensure all web content is accessible to all users. If you need assistance accessing any of our content, please email the webteam or call 662-325-2262.

Select Your County Office


Portrait of Dr. John Kushla
Extension/Research Professor
Agroforestry, Christmas trees, GIS, forest soils, pine silviculture

Related Publications