Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Tree I.D. trivia

Appreciation for what trees provide is what inspires me. In the winter, when trees are dormant, it can seem they are lifeless, but if you pay attention, there is still a lot going on. With the buzz term of 'sustainability' being tossed around in conversations nowadays, it only makes sense that we take a good look at one of nature's most reliable resources: trees. Identification can help in determining the usefulness of each type of tree.
Can you identify types of trees from the bark on their trunk? In the winter? I took a walk one day when there was snow on the ground, and just for fun, quizzed myself. I found out quickly that it is not easy to identify trees without leaves. Luckily, I had my expert husband to set me strait and point out a few common trees found in the mid-west:

ASH- (species term= Fraxinus) Green and White Ash are the most commonly found in the Midwest. There are also Black and Blue Ash, which are rare. The bark on young Ash trees is pretty smooth, but as the tree matures, a pattern of diamond-shaped ridges grow. It is still difficult to identify Ash by the bark. For further information on leaves and good pictures/descriptions this article was helpful:

 BLACK OAK- ( species name= Quercus Velutina) Is found from California to the East coast.  The bark on young trees is fairly smooth and gray, but becomes thick with deep furrows and turns black as it gets old (average is 80 years- depending on eco conditions).  All species of Oak trees are an essential resource for wildlife, highly desired in forests, and the lumber industry. The wood from Black Oak is a hard wood with an orangish-yellow color.
For more details on leaf and acorn distinction, you might try:
 CHINKAPIN OAK- also spelled Chinquapin and known as 'Yellow Oak' (species name= Quercus Muehlenbergii) is native to the large perspective of Midwest, but has spread into the deep South.
"Branches of Chinquapin Oak are light gray and range from flaky to platy, while its mature bark develops ridges that break into light gray blocks separated by dark gray, deep furrows. This species is yet another member of the White Oak group."
 HARD MAPLE- also know as 'Black Maple' and 'Sugar Maple' because these are the ones you 'tap' to get syrup. (species= Acer saccharum)  The contrast to 'Soft Maple' is mostly the texture of the wood, but there are distinct differences in the bark and leaves. Hard maple, as shown here, has dark gray bark and as the tree matures, dark brown fissures will appear and later peel from the side edge.
For basic descriptions of the many types of Maple:
Black Maple (aka- Hard Maple)
 HICKORY- aka- 'Shagbark Hickory' (species= Carya Ovata).
"The bark of a young shagbark hickory tree is brown, but it will turn gray as the tree ages. The bark bows and peels off of the trunk, giving it its distinctive name." How to identify a Shagbark Hickory tree
Interestingly, this tree is a member of the Walnut family. It produces nuts yearly that squirrels scramble over.  They are sort of tasty, but rather difficult to separate the shell from the meat.  My mother-in-law one year, decided to substitute Hickory nuts for pecans in a pie, which tasted fine, but unfortunately, didn't get 'shelled' completely, leaving a distinct crunch.
RED OAK- (species= Quercus rubra) is very similar to the Black Oak, with very subtle differences.  The bark on the trunks is also similar (the pictures of these in this blog appear different because of the age and exposure of each tree- can you tell which one is older and has had more exposure to sun, wind, etc.?). Red Oak typically will grow taller and have a broader canopy (spread of branches) than Black Oak. The real difference is in the fall, the Red Oak leaves will turn a deep red, compared to other species of oak will be a range of colors.  When harvested, the wood has a red tint in the grain. There are distinct differences in leaves, and acorns if you wish to pursue identification, here is a helpful resource:
WALNUT- aka 'Black Walnut' (species = Juglans nigra).  This tree is easy to identify (any time other than winter) by its leaves and when it bears nuts.  The distinguishing thing about the bark is the black color and the pattern of rounded ridges in the furrows.  The wood from these trees are in high demand because of the 'chocolate' color ingrained and the rich texture of the wood. It is definetely first choice for wood craftsmen.
There are other types of Walnut trees, grown all over the world, the type depends on the region/climate.
The Black Walnut (as shown) is native to the American Midwest.

We will have some high quality specialty wood items and gifts made from trees or about trees to offer on our website:  We just added some beautiful gift boxes with trees, made from high quality walnut. We also have wooden yo yo's in walnut, as well as in cherry, hard wood cutting boards and stone pendants that each are one of a kind.  Tell us your ideas...
For more specific identification information, this is a great article! 

1 comment:

  1. I love your webpaage-I am also a tree enthusiast with many pictures of wintering deciduous trees from Western NY.