Here in Vermont, we’ve got 70+ species of trees that we choose from to make our Twiggie Parachutist, and as a naturalist I always like to know what materials I’m using. Beginning to ID what tree your twig came from can be tricky, at least until you know what to look for. An introduction to tree identification would first teach you to split out the dozen or so conifers from the larger group of broad-leaf trees. Easy peasy.
To sort the broad-leaf trees, we can look at phyllotaxy, the arrangement of leaves and twigs on the branches, which gives us 2 smaller categories (see image above): those with opposite branching and those with alternate branching (there’s a third, uncommon group of oddballs, like buttonbush and catalpa, with whorled branches, where 3+ branches come emerge at each node).We’ve only got about 15 or so species of trees with opposite branches, so this makes it much easier to identify a tree with opposite branches. Just remember: