Survey of common tree names

Beth Lynch elynch at NWU.EDU
Thu Jun 1 12:48:43 CDT 1995

        I am a graduate student in Cognitive Science at Northwestern
University.  My colleagues and I are studying classification of trees by
experts of different types (taxonomists, landscapers, parks workers, etc.)
in order to determine how people form the biological categories they do.  I
am writing to request your help in our project by filling out a brief
survey simply listing the common names of various species of trees in your
geographical area.

        If you are interested I will explain a bit about what we are doing.
One question we have is how language affects categorization.  From both
reasoning tasks and sorting tasks, we have evidence that, whereas people
usually put trees of the same genus together (or reason about them in the
same way), they are more likely to group unrelated trees together if they
share a genus name (e.g. White Ash and American Mountain-Ash) and less
likely to put related trees together if they don't share the genus name
(e.g. Boxelder and Sugar Maple).  This may occur because, for example, the
American Mt-Ash looks more like the White Ash than its own relatives and
the Boxelder does not look like the other maples.  Or it could be that
things with the same label are more likely to be grouped together
regardless of what they look like (i.e. common labels may highlight

        In order to distinguish these two alternatives we are looking for
some trees that have different common names in different parts of the
country.  Hopefully in one case the tree will have a label which marks its
genus (e.g. Manitoba Maple, Ash-leafed Maple) and in another case the tree
will have a label which doesn't mark its genus (e.g. Boxelder).  So towards
this goal I would really appreciate it if you would list the common names
of these trees in your geographical area.
email address:
Where do you work/live?
Please list the common names for these tree species.  Also note if the item
is more commonly something other than a tree (e.g. a shrub), or if you are
unfamiliar with the species.  Thanks!

Lithocarpus henryi
Magnolia cuminata
Magnolia grandiflora
Nyssa sylvatica
Ostrya virginiana
Platanus  Occidentalis
Populus deltoides
Rhamnus caroliniana
Thuja occidentalis
Tilia americana
Tilia heterophylla
Viburnum lentago
Zanthoxylum americanum
Acer negundo
Acer pensylvanicum
Acer pseudoplatanus
Amelanchier arborea
Aralia spinosa
Araucaria araucana
Broussonetia papyrifera
Carpinus caroliniana
Catalpa bignonioides
Celtis laevigata
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
Chamaecyparis thyoides
Chionanthus virginicus
Cladrastis kentukea
Corylus colurna
Cryptomeria japonica
Ilex amelanchier
Juniperus scopulorum
Laburnum x watereri
Liriodendron tulipfera

Feel free to add any species which have multiple common names, at least one
which marks the genus AND one which does not mark the genus.

Please send back to me at elynch at  Thanks so much for your help!!!

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