Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter Tree Identification

Virginia Tech
As Francis Skalicky wrote in the Thursday News-Leader article, identifying trees in the winter can be a challenge.  I set out this year to learn to identify bark, which is possible on many big mature trees, but the saplings and small trees remain a challenge.  Dr. Michelle Bowe, a botanist from Missouri State University gave us a great session on winter twig identification at the Missouri Native Plant Society meeting this week.*

To many of us, even the names of twig structures are new.  The US Forest Service drawing will help.  A basic description is at this Virginia Tech site.  Once you look carefully at a few twigs, you will be amazed at the differences you can find in buds and scars.

US Forest Service-TAMU

There are a couple of ways you can approach this subject.
  1. The Springfield Conservation Nature Center’s “Nature Journaling – Winter Tree Identification” program will be held from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday.  Participants should dress for a short time outdoors. To register for this program or to find out about other Nature Center events, call 417-888-4237.
  2. There is a good key to get you started at VTree ID Twig Key.  A list of twig characteristics is available at this MDC link.  These will help with common native trees but to learn more including the smaller trees you will need a good resource such as Frances Main's Fifty Common Trees of Missouri, available at some MDC offices.

    * Dr. Bowe will be presenting twig ID at the January 2013 Master Naturalist meeting.

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