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Tree ID in the Winter

Offering up photo diaries of wildflowers and trees, birds and bugs, and maybe some critters as I wander and learn about the natural beauty of our world.
February 7, 2012

This is a very short version of a Daily Bucket I threatened to do awhile back and then ditched when I realized not too many folks know about the trees I see. Well, it's back... And I was not the only one to think of this. Here's the upcoming program by the Leon County Extension Agency "Deciduous Tree ID in Winter"  

I considered attending but I've been on Stan's hikes before and know the spiel. Also the class is quite large so the field trip may be congested. On the other hand, the class and field hike is mostly women (with a few I know) so that's an added attraction.  Anyway, anyways -- here's a handful of pics with some Tree ID basics.

The Florida Natural Areas Inventory has a detailed list of the natural communities. Recommended reading for anyone heading out for a hike anywhere in Florida. Here are 3 common trees of the upland forest.

Southern Magnolia in front, a young Live Oak leaning back, and a Beech behind them holding onto brown leaves late into winter. The magnolia and beech have smooth bark but their overall branching is different. They also seem to attract different lichens.  Of course, one is evergreen and the other is not. The Live Oak has a noticeable brown tint to it, and like other oaks and hardwoods, the bark fissures get bigger with age.

You may recall me talking of spruce pines. Here's one posing with its small cones and short needles. The bark of younger trees looks more like a hardwood such as hickory or sweetgum.

Loblolly pine - rougher bark, longer needles in bundles of 3 and cones are prickly. The bark is heavy and not flaky like the slash pine that was planted for timber and then spread everywhere.

Last one - sparkleberry, one of my favorite understory trees. Note the red tint and blistered bark. Side branches tend to run up straight striving for light. Strong and lightweight, those branches make the best walking sticks.

I could go on, and on and on, but you get the idea. You don't always need to see the leaves or flowers to identify a tree. With observation and practice one can easily learn other ID points like the bark and overall structure.

Rainy day here along the Gulf Coast; great day to stay inside and do this diary. Still I did get an early walk before the rain hit - had to check and see if more wild hogs invaded last night. Not good!

So, if you got wild hogs in your neighborhood, if you have a "ken bee" story about being chased by "something", if you have insights about tree identification, you know what to do - tell us!

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