Wednesday, September 30, 2009


For some reason, this just popped into my head today. It's a mnemonic I learned for tree and shrub identification: MADCAP HORSE. It is used to help you remember which trees and shrubs have opposite leaves. It works here in NJ at least.

CAPrifoliaceae - viburnums and honeysuckles*
HORSE Chestnut

*I think viburnums are now in the family Adoxaceae, so this may be a bit confusing

I'm sure there may be exceptions to this mnemonic, but it's worked for me.


Fly or Die Dan said...

I teach horticulture as a high school senior elective. We use a variant of this for our class. We don't do shrubs so we just use MADHORSE. I did find out this year that there is actually a dogwood called the Alernate-leaf Dogwood (named for its alternate branching).

Mike said...

I just fell asleep reading your post. Thanks, Patrick!

Patrick Belardo said...

Dan - Why didn't they have classes like that at my HS?

Mike - Say what? Too long for you?

Fly or Die Dan said...

i don't know--they didn't at mine either, but I LOVE teaching it now!

Anonymous said...

FYI, not only elderberry but also Viburnums are now part of Adoxaceae rather than Capfifoliaceae. Also, not sure why adoxaceae was left out of this mnemonic? AMADCAPHORSE (the first a for adoxaceae) is how I learned it. It is suppose to be comprehensive for all northern hemisphere opposite and woody plants.

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I have heard before about MADCAP HORSE ... but I did not know the meaning , thanks for share it, it will be important in the future