Learning winter tree identification
We had a great introduction to winter tree identification in Glen Providence Park on a cold, beautiful, sunny Saturday morning in January! Two hours were just enough for John Wenderoth to use his forestry background to get us started- as he pointed out, the “10,000 Hour” mastery theory would indicate that we have 9,998 hours to go to master tree identification! But he gave us some helpful pointers, including that 80% of the trees in our area are Ashes, Oaks and Maples. Seventeen of us put John to the test, as he graciously fielded quite a number of questions!
John explained the use of identification “keys”– books that guide you through a fixed sequence of identification steps, which with practice and patience will lead to accurately identifying a tree. One compact and handy book is the Winter Tree Finder (and its counterpart Tree Finder for summer)- which you can find online, or at the nearby Tyler Arboretum book store.
We toured the trees on the Sledding Hill, starting by checking out the line of intriguing Osage Orange trees along the southwest border. Their odd-looking fruit repels insects, and the trees were once planted as a “living fence” for livestock, due to sharp spines and a thicket-forming habit. Those in the park appear to be quite old, and the Sledding Hill is shown as pasture on an 1875 map, so perhaps they were once planted as a fence!
Of course we admired the magestic White Oak, which we believe to be well over 100 years old. We discussed bark, tree forms and branch patterns while we made our way around the Sledding Hill, examining its trees including Hemlock, Sassafras, White Ash, Walnut, Horse Chestnut, Black Cherry, and Apple. While we didn’t visit them, we couldn’t resist talking about the two American Chestnuts we found in the park, and we did visit the park’s uncommon Japanese Chestnut. We ventured just a bit into the Mountain Laurel Trail– which has some truly grand trees!
It was a fun and informative morning- thank you to John Wenderoth for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm about trees, and to everyone who joined us!