Tree names omitting "tree"

1

In most cases I see authors write: oak tree, pine tree, palm tree, and etc. But can we just call them an oak, a pine, a palm?

  • The house was standing next to an oak (instead of an oak tree).
  • I was climbing a pine (instead of a pine tree).

SovereignSun

Posted 2017-05-10T19:13:29.850

Reputation: 23 612

Answers

9

You can, but many trees bear a fruit or other accessory that is known by the same name: a cherry, an apple, a walnut. Even in your examples, a "palm" is often a palm frond, and a "pine" is a needle of a pine tree.

Malvolio

Posted 2017-05-10T19:13:29.850

Reputation: 4 979

This is an excellent answer. "I was climbing an oak" is virtually always unambiguous, but many of the other short versions would require context to make sense. – Ben I. – 2017-05-10T20:14:07.543

2Her house is shaded by an avocado. – John Lawler – 2017-05-10T20:24:15.853

I would not say an apple to refer to an apple tree, or a walnut to refer to a walnut tree. Sorry, but no. I was climbing an apple sounds really funny. – Lambie – 2017-05-10T23:43:03.130

1@JohnLawler That must be a really big avocado. – user3169 – 2017-05-11T04:28:27.373

@JohnLawler Yeh, you are right, this sounds funny. – SovereignSun – 2017-05-11T06:04:48.650

2

Question: In most cases I see authors write: oak tree, pine tree, palm tree, and etc. But can we just call them an oak, a pine, a palm?

Response: for some trees yes, you do not need to say tree: A pine, an oak.

For others you do need tree: I was climbing a walnut tree.

If the word for the type of tree refers to the type of wood that characterizes the tree, you don't need the word tree. Mostly you can just use the noun. But not for: fruit-bearing trees. And that includes walnuts.

Because walnut is a type of wood and the fruit of a tree. Also, cherry, there is cherry wood and cherries that grow on trees. So, I was climbing a cherry tree. Not: I was climbing cherries.

If the context is clear, you can say palm for palm tree even though a palm is not a type of wood.

I was climbing the jacaranda or bougainvillea in the yard. [those words are only the type of wood, not a fruit of the tree].

Lambie

Posted 2017-05-10T19:13:29.850

Reputation: 26 929