How to identify a purple flowering tree

Written by kyle lanning
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Purple-flowering trees add immensely to the beauty of a landscape. Many varieties of trees produce purple flowers. If you want to plant one, learn the differences among them so you can find the best one for your landscape. Identifying trees may seem like a challenging task, but once you know what to look for you will be able to positively identify any purple-flowering tree.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Horticultural encyclopedia or online database

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  1. 1

    Look at the leaves of the tree. Leaf analysis is one of the best ways to differentiate tree species. Examine a leaf's structure, size and edges. Use your horticultural encyclopedia or an online database to identify it.

  2. 2

    Analyse the flower. Flower analysis is an incredibly useful method for identifying trees. Find a section on purple-flowering trees in your encyclopedia or online database. Flower characteristics that identify a genus or distinguish one species from another include colour, bloom time and structure.

  3. 3

    Check out the bark of the tree. Bark characteristics can narrow your search. Look at the bark's colour, structure and other eye-catching features. For instance, does the bark look as if it could be easily peeled off?

  4. 4

    Assess the tree's size, shape and canopy structure. Though not as distinctive as the qualities cited above, these characteristics can confirm an identification or further help you narrow your search. Bear in mind that trees of the same species may differ in size according to climate and that some trees appear full-grown when they are not.

  5. 5

    Determine whether the tree bears fruit or nuts. This can be a challenge because fruit and nuts usually don't appear on a tree until the flowers have begun to die off. However, if you notice fruit or nuts on a tree, or you recall seeing them under that tree, that information can help you make a positive identification.

Tips and warnings

  • Use an illustrated horticultural encyclopedia. Most garden centres have them on hand for customers' use.
  • If you see a purple-flowering tree that has not yet produced leaves, you can identify it using other characteristics. (If it is early in the season and the buds are small and come directly off the branches without the presence of leaves, the tree is most likely a Redbud (Cercis sp.).

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