Natural History First Tree

This post is a personal to start keeping track of my Natural History first tree. As previously stated I’m going to start learning other Natural History objects to compliment birding. And this past week I identified my first tree.

A few weekends ago Mike pointed out several trees which could be identified mainly by their bark. With that experience and trying to identify leafless trees in my “backyard”, I’ve decided to wait a few weeks for trees to leaf before attempting to ID those trees.

So the first tree I identified is an evergreen with needle-leaves. And like birding there are steps to identifying trees. The process looked easier with an evergreen so I started there. Plus there was no need to wait for the leaves.

I’m using two sources to identify trees. Peterson’s Field Guides Eastern Trees by George A. Petrides and Janet Weir and The Tree Identification Book by George W.D. Symonds. I decided on those for a couple of reasons and after I use them for a few months I’ll give each a review. All I’ll say for now is I can tell each has strong and weak points.

Following is how I identified my first tree.

First Steps to Tree ID

  1. First step is to determine which of the categories listed in the guide the tree falls under. In this case it’s obviously a tree with needle like leaves.
  2. Are the needles growing in clusters or singularly? The needles appear to be growing in clusters. This means it is a Pine. I have identified it down to the genus level.
  3. Clusters of 2, 3, or 5? In this case the clusters are in groups of 5. A cluster of 5 needles narrows it down to an Eastern White Pine. My first ID!!
  4. Now to verify.
    1. How long are the needles? 3-5″? Yes- 4″.
    2. Cone – 4-8″? Yes 5″.
    3. Bark not scaly with deep furrows? Yes, to my untrained eye.Natural History first tree

So that’s the process. With a leafed tree it appears the process will be harder.

I haven’t double checked this ID with anyone so please let me know if I’m in error.

2 Replies to “Natural History First Tree”

  1. Congratulations on Tree #1! I saw that picture and immediately thought “white pine,” but if you asked me I could not tell you any of those features or how to differentiate it from a yellow or Virginia pine. I guess GISS works for trees too? Next relevant question: were there any Pine Warblers in this tree?

    1. No Pine Warbler but a Northern Cardinal has been spotted there a few times. Yes, GISS must work because both guides have complete tree views or silhouettes. But I’ll stick ID’ing them by 4-5 field marks for now.

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