Nature Trees & Leaves Photo Guide Compound Leaves  
 Compound Leaves

Compound leaves have more than one leaflet, usually several, attached to the same leaf stalk. The entire stalk with all its leaflets come out of the same bud in the spring. The entire stalk and its leaflets fall off in autumn.

Mockernut Hickory
Black Walnut
Honey Locust

 Mockernut Hickory

Walnut family.
Carya tomentosa

Common name: White Hickory

Mockernut Hickory's compound leaves are 8- 20" long, and the leaflets are 2" to 8" long. Notice the nine leaflets (sometimes there are seven). 

Crush a leaflet in your hand and smell the strong, spicy smell! That strong scent is the best sign that it's a Mockernut Hickory.

It grows 50-80 feet. The branches start about 10 feet from the ground. Lower branches grow right out of the trunk.

 Black Walnut

Walnut family. Juglans nigra

The Black Walnut's compound leaves are 12-24" long, with 9-21 leaflets that are 2.5-5" long. The crushed leaflets give off a spicy smell.

The nuts grow singly or in twos. They have a thick green husk. The nut inside has a thick shell with a sweet nut. The husks will stain your hands brown.

The trees will grow 70 to 90 feet.

 Honey Locust

Legume family. 
Gleditsia triacanthos
Common names:
Sweet Locust, Thorny Locust.

The Honey Locust's leaves are both compound and bipinnately (doubly) compound. At the end of this twig you can see the bipinnate (double) compound leaf with its 14 sets of smaller compound leaves. To each side you can see a single compound leaf.  The leaflets are about .4-1.25" long.

Flat pods from 6-16" long hold many beanlike seeds in sweet pulp, which livestock like to eat.

Honey Locust can reach 80'.

Spines up to 8" long grow from the trunk and the twigs.  A spine can end with several points.


Sources: National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees, Eastern Region,by Elbert L. Little, 2000, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Flora of Missouri,by Julian A.Steyermark, Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 1981. Photos and text by Peter Callaway.

This is the Web site of the Bryant Watershed Education Project, based in West Plains, Missouri. Our site is a toolkit for exploring the Bryant Creek, North Fork, Eleven Point and Upper Spring watersheds in the southern Missouri Ozarks.
Learn more.

top of page Top