In my last post I described being fooled by a grove of White Poplar Populus alba I initially thought were Big-toothed Aspen Populus grandidentata. And on the same day I was fooled again in identifying another Big-toothed Aspen. This time by Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides.
After the encounter with the White Poplar I headed to Johnson County Park to take notes on Honey Locusts Gleditsia triacanthos. While taking those notes I noticed another birch/aspen tree across the road.
So I started working through the winter field marks to ensure it was the expected tree for the area, Big-toothed Aspen.
The bark seems good for a Big-toothed. A slender tree around 50′ high with light, gray limbs. The branches basically ascend in a vertical manner.
And now here is where my rookie status takes over. The tree has lower limbs so I can examine the twigs and buds.
And here is where I’ll make a comment on Field Guides.
Looking and reading about Big-toothed and Quaking Aspens I still thought my ID was correct on Big-toothed. The field guides don’t point out the difference enough on the twigs to accurately differentiate them.
And so soon I’ll be writing a post on Tree Field Guides pros and cons.
Still thinking it’s a Big-toothed Aspen I noticed some leaves on one of the trees. And the ID is made.
So where did I go wrong?
1. For starters I’m still a rookie and learning the nuances of tree identification. When I got home and examined the twig/bud I confirmed the ID.
2. The field guides in their attempt to cover too many trees are either lacking in words, lacking in photos, or aren’t clear to a rookie.
3. According to 101 Trees of Indiana Quaking Aspen only occur in the northern part of Indiana. So did someone plant them in Johnson County Park?
4. I could be all wrong and when spring arrives I’ll positively ID the tree.
I now can’t wait to find a Big-toothed Aspen so I can compare it to Quaking Aspen and White Poplar.