Things to Do

Make Your Fall Hikes a Game with Our Leaf Checklist

Up for a challenge? Bring this tree species checklist on all your fall hikes and walks to see how many leaves you can spot.

By Michaela Satterfield

Oct 2019

Osage Oranges on a tree
Photo courtesy ShutterstockOsage orange trees make up one of a number to find on our list.

The leaves are bursting into every shade of red, orange and yellow. It’s time to lace up your hiking boots and get out to enjoy the views. Whether you decide to take a stroll through the neighborhood or venture into the woods, stay on the lookout for these trees—They’re all native to Missouri and reach the height of their fall glory around mid-October. Make it a competition to see who can find the most first, or simply test your own leaf-hunting skills.

The tree: White Ash

Fraxinus americana
How to identify it: Look for the ombre orange and purple leaves.
Where to spot it: Take a road trip. Routes that follow rivers ensure breathtaking views of forested bluffs.

The tree: Black Maple

Acer nigrum
How to identify it: Scattered yellow and orange leaves are the trademark of these trees.
Where to spot it: Look for them while lazing down the river on a float trip. You’ll have a clear view of all the fall sights along the river.

The tree: Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum
How to identify it: Vibrant red leaves, with some orange and yellow ones mixed in, are impossible to miss.
Where to spot it: Find all the flora and fauna at the Springfield Botanical Gardens. Its selection of maples is especially notable.

The tree: Northern Red Oak

Quercus rubra
How to identify it: You can’t miss the bright red leaves.
Where to spot it: Get lost on some country backroads. The lower volume of traffic in these areas means you can enjoy the views in peace and quiet.

The tree: Bitternut Hickory

Carya cordiformis
How to identify it: Keep an eye out for the golden yellow leaves.
Where to spot it: Visit a cemetery. They often have mature trees with beautiful leaves. Check it out when you want a spooky Halloween vibe.

The tree: Osage Orange

Maclura pomifera
How to identify it: Their leaves turn yellow, but their fruit is most recognizable. It’s about the size of your fist and has a bumpy green surface.
Where to spot it: Check out a local park. Word on the street is Phelps Grove Park in Springfield has a nice selection of Osage Oranges.

Take the Checklist with You

Download our southwest Missouri leaf checklist and take it with you on your next stroll through the neighborhood or local hike for reference.

Download 417 Magazine's Fall Leaf Checklist