Dendrology; The science and study of woody plants, specifically trees and shrubs. We had our second workshop, led by Bob Bowles, this past Sunday on the 24th of April. A group of very enthusiastic participants outfitted themselves with loops, magnifiers and compasses, donned rubber boots and then proceeded to hike through muddy trails, trekking deep into the heart of our wetlands.
Participants deep in the heart of our wetland
Participants are hard at work
Bob talked about studying winter dendrology during March and April. There is just a small window to complete observations and learn, from the early part of spring until the trees and shrubs begin to leaf out and flower. Before leaf out occurs the student can observe the bud shape and the way it is arranged on the twig or branch. The shape and colour of leaf scars and bud scales, along with the structure of the bark of the tree help with the identification of the species. Trees form buds during the fall months in preparation for winter. It is these buds we study in the winter and early spring to help with the identification of the species.
Here is a 'short list' of some of the terms we learned:
Terminal Bud - the bud at the end of a twig
Bud Scales - protects the developing leaf
Lateral Bud - buds along the sides of the twigs.
Leaf Scar - attachment of a leaf to the twig from a past season
Bob also talked about the location of trees, whether they grow in the forests and woods, in the wetlands or where the land transitions from the upland forests to the moist lowlands.
Here are just a few tree species we discussed and learned about their habitat. Knowing which trees grow in certain areas also helps with identification.
Upland Trees - White ash, American elm, Sugar maple, Oak, White spruce, White and red pine
Lowland Trees - Black ash, Willow, Eastern white cedar, Silver maple, Freeman's maple, Poplar, Black spruce, Speckled Alder
Transitional areas - Green and red ash, Cherry, Yellow and white birch, Tamarack, Eastern Hemlock
Black ash is our major wetland obligate tree species here at the Nature Centre. Jayne Peacock, a participant in both workshops, took this wonderful photograph of the terminal bud on a black ash tree. Bob Bowles submitted his beautiful sketch of the ash bud.
Bob gave us another mnemonic to work with for the various species of ash tree buds; 'white is tight, black is slack, green and red are in-between'. As seen in the photo the lateral buds are slack in relation to the terminal bud. Note how they are also opposite each other. Another indication of an ash tree.
We also observed fungi, mushrooms, mosses and lichens during our journey through the wetlands. Bob pointed out several species including Stair-step moss (Hylocomium splendens) and New York Scalewort (Frullania eboracensis). Bob Bowles submitted this exquisite drawing of stair-step moss, abundantly found in our wetlands.
We definitely have enough material for future workshops and blogs on these living organisms.
Overall it was a great learning afternoon with sunny skies and temperatures above 18C. Everyone had fun, learned about dendrology and undoubtedly got a workout.
We will keep you posted about our upcoming Alvar Tour walks, Moss workshops, Trail Blazing workshop and much, much more.