In January I attended a class at the North Carolina Arboretum on winter tree identification. We were given a wonderful little book called, "Winter Tree Finder" by May and Tom Watts, which I recommend if you want to identify trees in the winter. The teacher of the class, Marc Williams, has two websites: www.botanyeveryday.com and www.plantsandhealers.com and offers courses online.
I decided to ask a question I have long pondered: is there a 'bright line' between whether a plant is a shrub or a tree? And the short answer is 'yes.' Basically a single trunk is a tree and a shrub has multiple trunks. Based on this criteria, he said a crepe myrtle is a tree. The first picture below is of a witch hazel (shrub) and below that is a red bud, which is a good example of a single trunk tree.
w He said bark is NOT very helpful in distinguishing between types of trees because the look of a tree's bark changes over the lifetime of the tree.
I did learn that the number of needles in a 'bundle' coming out of a 'fascicle' (point where the needle bundle fastens to the tree branch) DOES make a big difference in identifying the type of pine tree it is. I had always thought the number of needles in a fascicle was rather random, not knowing that ALL the fascicles on a tree have the same number of needles attached.
The scars are also critical in tree identification. There are leaf scars, vein scars and bud scale scars. Good clues to a tree's identity can be obtained by noting whether the leaf scars are alternate to each other on a twig, or opposite to each other. It also matters whether the leaf scars are 'whorled' or not. Leaf scar shape matters as well; they can be heart-shaped, shield-shaped or C-shaped. TO be honest, I had never given the slightest thought to those 'marks' on the twigs of trees. Now that I know they contain important information I will pay them more heed.
I also learned that branches coming out of a trunk at a 90 degree angle are stronger than branches that come out at any other angle. Not that this helps with tree identification, but I thought it was interesting information nonetheless. See below for two examples of this.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
April 16 - June 25
Solo show of tree photographs at
301 N. Washington St.
August 3 - August 29, 2018
Tryon School of Arts and Crafts -- 373 Harmon Field Rd. Tryon, NC
August 7, 2018
Noon - 1pm "First Tuesday"
speaker "For Love of Trees."
Ruthie will present an audiovisual show of photos, music, poems and anecdotes relating to trees.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Rd.
August 22 from 2 - 3
Poemscapes: These Trees
Fusion of tree photographs with poems about trees. Photographer Ruthie Rosauer will share stories about some of her favorite trees.
301 N. Washington St.
October 13 from noon-4
Mountain Made Gallery
November 16 - 18
"Tis the Season"
Holiday Fair at
David Event Center
761 New Boyleston Highway