Can you identify the major species of trees in your area? What’s the difference between a tree and a shrub? How do we use the lumber or fruits of from a specific tree? How did Native Americans and our ancestors use them? Why do leaves change color?.
I have always been fascinated with trees and the stories they can tell. We spend a lot of time in the forest ; much of this country was covered with a dense forest canopy almost impenetrable to sunlight. I don’t think it’s too much to say that human history follows the history of trees and forests and vice-versa.
Here’s some of my favorite forestry references:
|My well-worn Golden Guide to Treesis a reliable source of information for tree identification. I have a couple of other guides but reach for the Golden Guide first because I find it easier to identify things from illustrations rather than photographs.The guide features over 730 species of trees grouped in 76 families. Each species description includes characteristics-tree shape, bark, leaf, flower, fruit and twig-for quick identification. As with any guide one must learn how to use it properly. Become familiar with the family descriptions and nomenclature featured in the front of the book and you will be a tree expert in no time.The Golden Guides have been around for decades and remain popular for their clarity, simplicity and utility. Available at Amazon|
|Oak: the Frame of Civilization is the compelling story of one family of trees, common in every temperate climate of the world, and how it shaped human history. Did you know that acorns were once a principal food crop for humans and livestock? that ink from oak galls advanced the written word?; ships and casks of oak facilitated the age of discovery? A highly recommended read. Available at Amazon|
|Forestry Merit Badge is an excellent way to get to know the subject. You can do your own self-study project by completing the requirements. No, adults cannot earn merit badges but they can certainly use them as a tool for learning. If you “prepare a field notebook, make a collection, and identify 15 species of trees, wild shrubs, or vines in a local forested area” and “Collect and identify wood samples of 10 species of trees. List several ways the wood of each species can be used.” you’ll have some fun and get to know a lot about the subject at the same time.
Forestry Merit Badge requirements
Leafsnap Tree identification iPhone and iPad App is a collaborative effort of Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution using photo recognition technology to identify trees.
“This free mobile app helps identify tree species from photographs of their leaves and contains beautiful high-resolution images of their flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark. Leafsnap currently includes the trees of New York City and Washington, D.C., and will soon grow to cover the trees of the entire continental United States.”
Leafsnap turns users into citizen scientists, automatically sharing images, species identifications, and geo-coded stamps of species locations with a community of scientists who will use the stream of data to map and monitor the ebb and flow of flora nationwide.”