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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now is a great time of year for tree identification, because leaves both remain on trees, and are falling. Nuts are falling. Nuts and leaves can be used for positive tree identification. This is a fun part, for me and others in my family, of woodcraft. It helps one to get to know the woods better.

In winter, tree identification by bark alone, while possible, is challenging. In fall, leaves, nuts, bark and forest environment can be matched to arrive at a positive identification. Hiking and hunting are two activities that are complimentary with good tree identification skills.

I have been happy to experience the various types of oaks. Growing up in Michigan, I was familiar mainly with red oak, and to a lesser extent, white oak. Where we have lived in Pennsylvania and Indiana, chestnut oak and chinkapin are also present. These are interesting trees that grow in interesting places in the forest. The swamp burr oak, quercus bicolor, is one of my favorites, and a family member in Ohio has a majestic example in the back yard, leftover from when the land was cleared for the subdivision construction about 15 years ago.

Other nut trees such as hickory, beech, and walnut are interesting, and can be identified relatively easily at this time of year. My bike ride yesterday was littered with shaghbark hickory nuts, black walnuts and eastern white oak acorns. I got off the bike and spent some time digging through the specimens on the ground near the trees.

By improving one's tree identification skills, better understanding is possible for aspects such as alternate vs opposite branching, forest types and topography/drainage/soil type. Tree groupings such as birch-cedar, beech-cherry-hemlock, fir-spruce-aspen and others are quite interesting to learn about.

What are others' experiences with improving the understanding of what's growing, and why, in their local forests?
 

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Now is a great time of year for tree identification, because leaves both remain on trees, and are falling. Nuts are falling. Nuts and leaves can be used for positive tree identification. This is a fun part, for me and others in my family, of woodcraft. It helps one to get to know the woods better.

In winter, tree identification by bark alone, while possible, is challenging. In fall, leaves, nuts, bark and forest environment can be matched to arrive at a positive identification. Hiking and hunting are two activities that are complimentary with good tree identification skills.

I have been happy to experience the various types of oaks. Growing up in Michigan, I was familiar mainly with red oak, and to a lesser extent, white oak. Where we have lived in Pennsylvania and Indiana, chestnut oak and chinkapin are also present. These are interesting trees that grow in interesting places in the forest. The swamp burr oak, quercus bicolor, is one of my favorites, and a family member in Ohio has a majestic example in the back yard, leftover from when the land was cleared for the subdivision construction about 15 years ago.

Other nut trees such as hickory, beech, and walnut are interesting, and can be identified relatively easily at this time of year. My bike ride yesterday was littered with shaghbark hickory nuts, black walnuts and eastern white oak acorns. I got off the bike and spent some time digging through the specimens on the ground near the trees.

By improving one's tree identification skills, better understanding is possible for aspects such as alternate vs opposite branching, forest types and topography/drainage/soil type. Tree groupings such as birch-cedar, beech-cherry-hemlock, fir-spruce-aspen and others are quite interesting to learn about.

What are others' experiences with improving the understanding of what's growing, and why, in their local forests?
Awesome! Pay attention to buds and bud scars too! Many trees have radically different bark as they mature.
I think squirrel hunting taught me a great deal about trees and animal preferences for their fruit/seeds.
The white oak family has sweeter seeds than the red oak family but squirrels will usually eat all the hickory nuts first!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Awesome! Pay attention to buds and bud scars too! Many trees have radically different bark as they mature.
I think squirrel hunting taught me a great deal about trees and animal preferences for their fruit/seeds.
The white oak family has sweeter seeds than the red oak family but squirrels will usually eat all the hickory nuts first!
@eucman Agreed, bark is often unreliable as an identification characteristic as you point out. Buds and scars are very useful, I need to learn more about these.
 

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@eucman Agreed, bark is often unreliable as an identification characteristic as you point out. Buds and scars are very useful, I need to learn more about these.
Another way to tell trees is by their silhouettes , I was fortunate to have several tree classes while going to college. A good book for identification is ( A FIELD GUIDE TO TREES AND SHRUBS by George A. PETRIDES ) I was lucky to have him as an instructor years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Another way to tell trees is by their silhouettes , I was fortunate to have several tree classes while going to college. A good book for identification is ( A FIELD GUIDE TO TREES AND SHRUBS by George A. PETRIDES ) I was lucky to have him as an instructor years ago.
Yes, Peterson's guides are great. I have Eastern Trees and Eastern Birds, and use them often.

https://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-...n+eastern+trees&qid=1601342767&s=books&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.com/Peterson-Fie...n+eastern+birds&qid=1601342747&s=books&sr=1-3
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Two new-to-me species.

American chestnut, these were on our hike in Shenandoah NP in Virginia last weekend.

Shingle oak, this is along my bike ride adjacent to a corn field in central Indiana. The only oak I have encountered with smooth edged leaves, and is not a live oak.
 
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