Most of us have basic knowledge when it comes to trees, but it’s very normal not to be familiar with opposite branching. Trees either have opposite branching or alternate branching and knowing the difference can help you identify a tree and understand any issues or concerns associated with it.
When side branches grow exactly opposite of each other, it is known as opposite branching. This applies to both trees and shrubs and opposite branching is far less common in trees than alternate branching which applies to a much higher number of trees. As there are a lot fewer types of trees that have opposite branching, they are normally a lot easier to spot and identify because there are such few options.
Trees that have opposite branching are:
>> Dogwood Trees
These are the most common trees you will come across consisting of opposite branching. This type of tree has very large blooms that are quite fragrant and come to a full blossom in the springtime. They are also known to grow small berries that vary in colour (white, red, or blue) and are not edible.
>> Ash Trees
There are roughly about 65 different species of trees in this category that have opposite branching and are easily identified through the compound leaflets found on the branches.
>> Maple Trees
There are many different species of maple trees, over 100 to be precise, all of which consist of opposite branching. Maple trees are popular in several countries and may be the easiest type of tree to spot that falls into the opposite branching category.
In addition to these three types of trees, there are other plants and shrubs that have opposite branching as well, such as winter creepers, burning bushes, and privets. Another source of identification is the type of leaves that you see because trees consisting of opposite branching can have simple or compound leaves.
Alternate branching is far more common and easier to spot because there are so many of them out there. Alternate branching has side branches that stagger and alternate in different directions throughout the branch and can be found on oak trees, cherry trees and cottonwood trees to name a few.