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Getting to Know Trees

This past Saturday we had a lovely group of people attend our Winter Dendrology class. Dendrology is the scientific study of shrubs and trees before they leaf out and/or flower. Each species of tree is unique at this time of year giving away clues to its identification.

Group participants are hard at work.

Bob Bowles shared with us the importance of trees and the role they play in our environment. Our first tree/shrub was a precocious pussy willow (Salix discolour). This species grows only in a wetland area. This willow tree is one of 14 species in Ontario and the catkins were in full bloom. We learned there are male and female willow trees. The pussy willow we observed was male. We discovered that the buds and branches alternate from each other and have only 1 scale. Most trees have 2-6 scales. The bud scales are structures that are modified leaves covering the bud during the winter dormancy.

Pussy Willow Buds

White Spruce Needles

Photography Credit: Martha Lawrence

The group prepared to go into the wetlands and this is where Michael and I left the group. Our precious Charlie, our Labradoodle had passed the night before so we decided to let the group go on ahead. Charlie was head of the Welcoming Committee for the Nature Centre.

When the group returned a couple of hours later, we had a nice campfire going, throwing some good heat. We learned they had observed 25 species of upland and wetland trees. Thank you Martha for scribing and for taking photos. Martha's organizational skills, taking notes, recording data and her photography skills are second to none.

If you would like to learn more about Dendrology please click on the Blog links below.

Our next workshop will be a 2 part Alvar Flora Walk, May 6th and June 17th. We are hoping to see the dazzling displays of the early bloomers in May and the late bloomers in June. For more information please visit:

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