We are doing winter nature studies with the blog Handbook of Nature Study and this week our topic was evergreens. Because we were so interested in learning how to identify deciduous trees last week, we decided to stick with the same theme and work on identifying evergreens this week. We used The Tree Identification Book to help us sort out one evergreen from another.
Evergreens can be identified based on the type of needles they hold. There are three different needle types:
1)Needles growing in clusters growing from one place on the twig. If these clusters are held in bundles of 2, 3 or 5 needles, it is a Pine. If there are many needles in a cluster, the tree is a Larch.
2)Needles growing singly with only one needle attached to each spot on the twig. If the needles are 4 sided, it is a Spruce. If they are flat, they can be either a Fir, Yew, Hemlock. or Bald Cypress.
3) Scalelike or Prickly Needles. If the needles are scalelike they are either a White Cedar or an Arborvitae. If the needles are either prickly or scalelike or a combination of both, then the tree is a Red Cedar.
After you determine what type of needle type you are looking at, you can further identify the tree based on its twigs, cones and more specific leaf arrangements. Ryan and I looked for an example of each needle type when we were out investigating evergreens.
Here is a example of a tree that holds its needles in clusters. Because there are 5 needles in each cluster on this tree, we determined that this is a White Pine.
If you click on the picture above, it should enlarge so that you can see the book better and look at samples of leaves that are held in clusters.
Above is a tree that has its needles growing singly. Because the needles are 4 sided, we identified it as a Spruce of some sort.
The page above shows trees that have needles growing singly. On a different page we were able to compare actual sized spruce cones and determine that the tree we were identifying was a Colorado Spruce.
Shown above is a tree which has scalelike leaves. After comparing the examples of scalelike needles, we determined that this tree is an Arborvitae.
The picture above shows the different types of scalelike or prickly leaves and what evergreens they are associated with.
If your kids like playing detective, they will enjoy learning how to identifying trees. If you are doing winter botany, I would suggest starting out with the evergreens because they are easier and work your way up to the deciduous trees. Enjoy!
If you are interested in seeing my other Winter Wednesday posts, please click here.