This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info: guerinw@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Identifying trees in winter

Learning to ID trees from their growth habit is a tough challenge, one that is made even harder by the variation within each species. Here are some examples with what I hope are helpful hints. These are trees I pass every morning on my way to work.

Hickories (Carya glabra and C. ovata) can often be easy to spot by their winter habit. Characteristic are the twisty, curling smaller branches. Click on the photo for a close-up.

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is the tree that most resembles a baobab -- with an often massive central trunk and coarse twigs that twist upwards at the very end. Zoom in on the crown at 8:00. 

I love this little row of sassafras trees -- unique structures with very small crowns on top. The fact that they are clonal and come in groupings is very helpful also.

You don't see open-grown basswoods (Tilia americana) very often. They usually have a somewhat awkward form in winter. Note the arcing branches in the lower half of this tree.

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