A collins guide, then once you've ID'd it, learn what makes it distinctive
well title pretty much says it all.
does anyone know the best way ?
The best way to lean trees is to go out look at them, try to identify them yourself, take note of features and if you cant identify them yourself look them up in a book or post a picture of them in places like this.
for example, beech, classic leaf shape, defined veins, line of hairs around the edge.
"Light a man a fire and he is warm for a few hours, Set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life" :-D
Take a bark rubbing too so that you can look back on them after the fall as the americans call it, when the trees are naked and have fewer features to identify them. Bark then becomes more important, and somewhat more challenging!
It's a huge subject, try not to take it all on at once, start a notebook, select some of the more useful trees, Hazel, Birch, Alder, Beech etc. then research those to death on the internet, collect photos, pictures etc. and go out and identify them in real world, collect leaves etc.
When you come across a tree you don't recognize take a photo and look it up in your books or internet when you get home.
“…my shoes are the hard soles of my feet, my bed is the earth, my food is only seasoned by hunger…”
go on a forestry and arboriculture corse? lol
thats what im doing and have lernt most of the comon ones but i have found that you can only lern by looking closely at them and noticing the small diferences between them
eg. hornbeem and beech - they are very similar exept there is two diferenced that can seperate them...
the leaves of hornbeem have jaged edges and beech has smooth edges but in winter it is harder because of the lack of leaves but it can still be done by looking at the buds, hornbeem has small buds and beech has long cigar shaped buds.
there is lots of other things to look at such as the bark, fruits/nuts/cones, shoots opersite or alternate on the stem? even the smell of the foleage if crushed.
i think tree ID is something which people overlook in bushcraft, you miss alot of opertunities, each tree has its own speciality and uses and i find it makes you look at them with a different angle and respect.
In this country it is really quite easy. We have such a limited flora compared to most places. Learn 10 tress and you will know more than 98% of people, really, I have tried this everyone thinks they know a few trees so you ask them which they can identify, the list often dries up at 4 or 5 and rarely passes 10. So out you go with a book of a camera and then back to check on the web.
Always look for seeds or flowering parts first, an acorn, an alder cone, catkins are much more distinctive than leaves which can be variable. Then look at leaves and the way they are spaced on the twigs, opposite pairs or alternate? last look at bark but be aware it changes a lot depending on the age and size of a tree so sweet chestnut for instance has very smooth bark up to about 10" diameter but an old one is very gnarled and often has spiral bark.
Learn the easy 10 first, lets say choose from these birch, hawthorn, oak, beech, ash, larch, scotts pine, rowan, alder, hazel, elm, lime (quite a few of these are split into several different species but don't wory about that to begin) depending on where you are you could have others like cherry, hornbeam, whitebeam, poplars.
If you learn 20 you are definitely into the top 1% of tree identifiers in the country...a sad state of affairs but true.
I now know Lime, Beech, Hawthorn, Birch, Horse Chestnut, Sycamore, Maple, Ash, Hazel, London Plane and Oak and I think that's it.. But it seems like you know so much more! But I actually was out scouting around my local woods today and I realised how many trees I don't know.. It seems like a load though when you're driving around..
What I did to learn those few (I actually started this in winter when there were no leaves around, probably making it harder) was pick up a tree identification book and every time I came across a tree I'd go through the key and identify it. You don't forget it once you've identified it, so it's quite a quick process. But then getting to know them deeper is probably the challenge, something else I need to do..
The easiest way to identify a tree is to put your ear against it and listen to the bark.
We have a lot more trees to learn, but some of yours may be in here.
Last edited by weaver; 23-05-2008 at 20:57.
While you're learning there's a useful free leaflet that's very helpful. It's like this online resource from the Forestry Commission here: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-5G2KV3 but printed on a double sided fold-up laminated piece of paper so it fits in your pocket and doesn't get wet. We picked ours up at a wood fair IIRC.
I found that learning the useful ones first helped.
I find that learning about what you can do with the tree helps to reinforce all the other info like leaf shape, bark, twig shape, fruits, seed, overall shape etc....
Unfortunately it seems to cost £3.50 from the publishers here: http://www.field-studies-council.org...aspx?Code=OP51 but I did pick mine up free from a wood fair so worth looking out. The www.field-studies-council.org also seem to have lots of other publications that I must try and resist...
not taking michael but look for a guide aimed at children... my kids have some and they are great i keep pinching them and using them. Dead basic and easily identifiable features. also cards on animal prints for tracking, wild flowers etc Think national trust type guide shops have them
Do you have a Botanic Garden near you?
Everything has little labels.