Have you ever been on a hike and wondered what the paint on trees mean? It's not unusual and normally not a big deal, but if you see an orange X on a tree trunk in Missouri, it would be a good idea to stay out.

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I got curious about what orange X's mean in a forest. The colors and symbols used by the US Forest Service have special meanings. The color and the shape are important. The Healthy Journal was one of the helpful sites I found that said an orange X on a tree is used by the Forest Service to designate a boundary. Translation? You're about to enter a designated area by the government, so best to head the other direction.

Paint doesn't always mean keep out, though. Like I said, the color AND the shape are important. An orange slash down a tree trunk normally means this tree has been designated to be cut down.

What about a white circle on a tree?


There is another symbol to watch out for. The Family Handyman says that according to a University of Illinois specialist, a white circle on a tree means it contains an endangered species.

Generally speaking, if you see a tree marked with paint, beware. You might be entering an area you're not supposed to be in or it could even be the tree has been designated a hazard and will be cut down by authorities.

It's worth noting that paint color on trees does not necessarily have a universal meaning. Within a city, there may be a completely separate code for what markings on trees mean, so best to check with civic authorities for questions about that.

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