When I started going on nature walks I thought it was an activity suited to only certain times of the year. I’ve come to learn, though, that each season has something to teach us about the natural world around us. This time of year, as leaves fall and trees are showing buds for next season, we can learn to identify many trees by their bark and their buds. Here are two trees with very distinctive bark, which live side by side in the forest at Marie Curtis Park.
The tree on the left is a black cherry. Naturalist Miles Hearn talks about the bark of this tree as being much like burnt cornflakes, a perfect and easy to remember description.
The tree on the right is very distinctive. I can’t think of another like it. It’s a shagbark hickory. The bark is indeed shaggy, isn’t it? This is a good time of year to have a close look at this particular tree in Marie Curtis Park. It is guarded by many prickly blackberry bushes, and the cost of getting a close look is measured in scratches.
In some cases, seeing the leaves is a huge help in identifying trees, but here are two examples where ID is easy without seeing any leaves at all.