The last few days have been brutally cold, so even thinking about going outside and looking at trees has not sounded like much fun. But today it warmed up to 28, so we headed out. The book discussed birch trees so I was determined to find them even though I hadn't noticed many in my travels. Luckily after Ryan's archery class, we spotted a paper birch (Betula papyrifera) which had been planted many years ago by the archery club and quickly snapped a shot of it shown above.
Later, on our way home, we discovered many river birches (Betula nigra) used in home landscapes along the way and Ryan managed to snap a picture of the grouping above as we drove by. What frustrated us though was the vast majority of trees we could not identify. I felt especially silly because I have taken a tree I.D. class in the past, yet seem to have only retained residual knowledge. Luckily, I kept all of the reference guides and I pulled them out the minute we got home.
The picture above shows Ryan using a magnifying glass to look at a leaf scar on the twig of a paper birch. I told Ryan that each species of tree has a different leaf scar which can be used to help in identification- just like how humans have fingerprints. The book "Woody Plants in Winter" by Core and Ammons features line drawings of leaf scars for all trees along with a key used to identify woody plants. After spending some time looking at tree reference books and learning how to tell the different birch species apart, we decided that we would like to continue our investigations and learn more about other tree genera.
Here are the reference books we used in today's explorations with links to Amazon if you are interested:
-Woody Plants in Winter by Core and Ammons gives a key useful in identifying trees in the winter along with showing leaf scars.
-The Tree Identification Book by George W.D. Symonds. This book shows closeup pictures of the bark, fruit, branching habits, and twigs of trees. If you were going to only purchase one of these books, this should be the one.
-Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs by Michael A. Dirr This book has lots of written information and has color pictures of trees in both winter and summer, along with its fruit and flowers.
-Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael A. Dirr A great guide that gives descriptions of leaves, cones, habit, growth rate etc...
This Winter Wednesday activity has stoked our interest in the trees of our area and I look forward to our continued explorations. I am especially interested in discovering the name of a particularly majestic craggy branched tree I see quite often in these parts. I think it is some kind of an oak.
To see past Winter Wednesday posts, please click here