|White ash on left surrounded mostly by red maple in the background, note the ashes much stouter branches|
Compound leaves can be thought of "cheap disposable branches" (Peter Thomas's description in the incredible Trees: their natural history). This allows the trees to put more investment into quick vertical growth rather than into developing energy intensive branches lower down the bole. A somewhat contradictory result is that compound leaves are bigger and therefore weigh more, and so need a more robust twig to support them. Therefore, we might ascertain from looking at a twig if it's simple or compound. While I'm focusing on opposite twigs here, some of the thickest twigs are the alternate compound leaves of sumac.
Below I've broken down which of the MAD Capped Bucking Horse species are simple and which are compound:
|Butternut on left, staghorn sumac on right. Both have compound leaves attached to stout twigs|
I went ahead and did some homework and gathered twigs from most of these species. I arranged them in order of increasing diameter, and wouldn't you know it, this corresponds to relative leaf size! In the photo above, from L to R, we have honeysuckle, buckthorn, dogwood, red maple, sugar maple, norway maple, boxelder, white ash, elderberry. This wasn't exactly a perfect sample, but I did try to find "average" twigs.
Okay, so in a rough estimate, we have the following:
(from Peterson's Eastern Trees)
|Honeysuckle (s) |
Glossy buckthorn (s)
Red-osier dogwood (s)
Red maple (s)
Sugar maple (s)
Norway maple (s)
White ash (c)
Common elderberry (c)