Have you ever wished you knew more about trees so you could identify their species more readily? I sure have. I’ve gotten to know the trees in our yard and at our hunting property pretty well, but take me away from either of those sites and I’m unable to identify most trees unless I can see their leaves. But that one key element of identification doesn’t help much in the winter time….
Some Resources to Help Identify Trees
I recently ran across an article in the Landscape Management magazine entitled “Step by Step: How to identify trees.” It gave me a couple of resources and I thought I would share what I learned with you.
First, I was surprised to learn there were 23,000 different kinds of trees in the world.
Second, there are a number of on-line resources available:
- The Arbor Day Foundation has a program to help you identify trees called “What Tree is That?” Unfortunately it relies almost entirely on leaf characteristics which doesn’t help me much during the winter months either.
- There is a smart-phone resource available called “Leafsnap” developed by researchers at Columbia University, University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution which allows you to upload a photo of a leaf. Again not very helpful in the winter months — and I don’t have a smart-phone.
- There is an Andriod-phone app developed by researchers from the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech called “Virginia Tech Tree Identification.” It goes beyond a leaf and allows you to input info about the trees’ twig. I checked out the companion website and found it to be helpful, but a little overwhelming.
The article intrigued me, of course, so I did some websurfing and found an on-line course on “Identifying Trees by Bark and Buds” by Jay Hayek from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. It is an excellent resource and his photos are awesome.
Finally, I found one I could handle offered by Tree Bark Identification. It helps you identify trees by keying out the bark and the branching, but it only covers the states east of the Mississippi.
And, then of course, there’s always our friendly WDNR. They have a number of great resources listed, including some of the ones I’ve listed above. The UW-Green Bay’s Herbarium at the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity’s key to the Trees of Wisconsin is the one for me.
All in all, I had a pretty educational morning and I feel really good about what I’ve learned. ‘Hope you will, too.