Thursday, 22 November 2007

Tree identification

Many of the skills and crafts we practice, require us to be able to identify various species of trees. For the majority of tree species that drop their leaves each autumn, this has now been completed and may be seen as a very challenging time to learn to identify trees, but actually it is one of the best times, because if you can identify trees without leaves, it makes identification so much easier once the leaves are again on the trees.

Here is the bud of a Sycamore tree

When teaching tree identification I give each student some blank sheets of paper and a roll of 48mm wide sticky tape. A we walk they collect a piece of twig about 25 -30mm long with at least one bud on. This is placed on a sheet of paper and completely covered with sticky tape. The sticky tape will preserve the bud while any excess moisture can escape through the back of the paper. Once preserved in this way, they will last a life time. Students are then encouraged to make notes about key identification features and can also add leaves and fruits at different times of the year. Gradually a unique and individual field guide is produced by each student which they may refer to whenever they need it.

Here I have stuck down both the leaf and bud of the Sycamore

This method works equally as well for plants and flowers. Below is a picture of a collection made by a class I worked with while in Canada.

The Nature Detectives website here has some fantastic free resources to download to aid identification of leaves, twigs and much more.

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