Greetings all! Welcome to the start of our journey into botany. I’m excited to introduce our botanical practice of today, tree identification. Spring has always been my favorite season, as the trees erupt with green and flowers everywhere you look, making every block of the neighborhood seemingly perfect. However, it seems that as the years pass, less and less people concern themselves with the specifics of what makes up the beautiful nature backdrops of our towns, neighborhoods, and parks. A man named Gabriel Popkin described this phenomena in this article Cure Yourself of Tree Blindness (which can be found at this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/26/opinion/sunday/cure-yourself-of-tree-blindness.html). Within this article he describes how he, and many of those he interacts with, have simply neglected to educate themselves about the important details of the world around them, and how they hope to change this about themselves. I find myself in a similar situation and hope you do to. So, without further ado, lets go outside and start learning!
To help myself further understand that nature and subsequent learning can happen anywhere, I wanted to find new trees throughout my day in the places I found myself. Lucky enough for me, I found myself at one of Cincinnati’s local golf courses, on a slightly rainy, but still great May morning with my brother and dad. Here I was able to observe many differing kinds of trees shown below. Unfortunately, I have not quite yet received a field guide to fully identify the trees, but for know, we can be content with practicing analyzing important details the trees present. At a later date, I will update with specific identifications, and some fun facts about the specific trees!
This first tree was found in the parking lot of the golf course. As you can see, it was a planted in a patch covered by rocks, but with normal gardening soil underneath. Some key features of the tree including its alternating, whorled, pinnately compound leaves. These leaves were made up of simple leaflets with entire edges.
This second tree was found in a similar environment as the first, with little surrounding room, as two of the tree’s sides were cut off by concrete. However, the tree seemed to be flourishing. One of my favorite parts of this tree was the dark brown, rick-looking bark. The leaves on this tree were simple at alternating nodes, with entire edges. It appeared that the leaves had been getting eaten by small bugs as well. As I’ve continued my education in Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife, I’ve come to appreciate golf courses more and more as centers where my family and I can go to pursue a hobby we love, while giving many kinds of animals and habitats opportunities to thrive. Golf is certainly a game that relies on the landscape around it, as it would not be nearly as enjoyable with beautiful lawns, forests, and ponds.
This third tree continued to create a great ambiance around the golf course’s club house. It had alternating nodes that led to simple leaves with entire edging. It even seemed like the nodes had extraneous things coming out of the nodes, whether they are seeds or leaves that still need to fully unfurl is yet to be determined, but a proper identification will certainly help figure it out!
The fourth tree was discovered about halfway through our front 9, with much more room surrounding it to grow. again, I thought the bark was a fascinating pattern, and I hope to discover if certain bark styles are helpful in identification. The leaf arrangement appeared to be opposite, but I must admit, I’m not totally confident with this assessment after further analysis of my photos. However, the leaves appeared to be pinnately compound, with simple, entire-edged leaflets. A closer look at the leaflet formation gives me greater confidence in my assessment of opposite leaf arrangement, as the leaflets appear to arranged in a similar manner.
The last tree found at the golf course had large, vibrant, lobed leaves with slightly serrated edges. The leaf arrangement was opposite, while the leaf complexity was trifoliated, which was certainly cool to find, as it seems that this leaf complexity may be not as common. This tree was found off to the side of the golf course, with much open space to grow into as the trees in this part of the course were quite thin.
In a continued effort to show myself the variety of trees I encounter in every day life, I left the golf course and was content to find three more trees throughout my neighborhood on a walk. These are those trees, with a thanks going to my many neighbors that help create a great neighborhood in the suburbs of Cincinnati.
This first tree I was draw to due to its dark-red coloring. The large leaves were lobed while having serrated edges and had with two leaves per node, giving it an opposite arrangement, which a simple leaf complexity.
This tree had more complex nodes than I had experienced up to this point. As you can see in the second picture, some of the nodes have two leaves porting from it, while one only has a single leaf. The leaves then ended with multiple leaflets that had entire edges.
The final tree analyzed had an opposite leaf arrangement that seemed to have whorls of leaflets at the leafs. These leaflets were lobes with definite serrated edges.
I hope that these pictures and descriptions give you all enough to think about. I hope to gain access to a field guide within the next day or two, but until then, perhaps the analyzations provided can give you readers enough context to do a little of your own research, and come up with guesses for the genus and species of these trees! I’m excited to do my best to identify and provide further ecological connections to these trees. As an outdoorsman myself, I certainly related to Gabriel Popkin’s article, and hope to gain the practical knowledge these trees can offer me. I am excited to find myself in an opportunity to begin my education in botany as the weather warms up to the summer months, and look forward to sharing many more outdoor missions with you!