Tree Identification and Classification

Author: Robert L. Vaessen e-mail: robert robsworld org


     O.k.; Alright; I admit it. I'm a 'tree hugger!' Trees are amazing. I find them calming, re-assuring, beautiful, sensuous, and very interesting.

     I guess I've always felt this way. I can remember growing up in North Eastern Wisconsin. Trees were everywhere. They provided a framework for my tree forts. Lent cover to scores of games of 'kick the can'. Afforded me privacy, and solace when I needed it. I was always climbing up in trees, discovering the animals and plants that made their homes in and around trees. Even a fall of more than twenty feet didn't dissuade me.

     My true fascination, and current interest in identifying various tree species, didn't manifest itself until I returned from a seven year tour of service in southern Italy. Although a very beautiful country, I found the lack of non domesticated trees disturbing and unfortunate. Southern Italy is heavily farmed, and nearly all stands of trees have been cut down and replaced with vineyards, orchards, or fields. My next assignment to Fort Meade Maryland reminded me how much I love trees. And re-kindled my interest in them. The smells of the forest are enticing and wondrous. The sun-dappled patterns of light that dance among the autumn leaves, the swaying of their slender limbs in a gentle breeze, their crown of green and golden leaves. All these things mean a great deal to me.

     I began by simply taking walks through the forest, simply appreciating the sensuous nature of these silent and somber souls. I found that I would pause every so often, and examine a tree. Noting a peculiar trait, or interesting leaf structure. I soon realized that I wanted to know what to call them. I had learned to differentiate quite a few species while growing up in North Eastern Wisconsin, but I had no idea that there were so many different species. I soon bought my first 'tree identification' guide. "The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees (eastern region)" by Elbert L. Little. By far my most used guide. Since then I have purchased others. "National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Trees (western region)" by Elbert L. Little, "Trees of North America" by C. Frank Brockman, Peterson field guide 11A "Trees and Shrubs" by George A. Petrides, Peterson field guide "Rocky Mountain and Southwest Forests" by John Kricher and Gordon Morrison, and a few others. The Audubon Guides remain my favorites.

     Since purchasing the tree identification guides, I have been venturing into the woods on short outings, and attempting to classify those trees I found interesting.

Trees Identified

Trees identified on base at Fort George G. Meade, MD.
Trees I identified at Brandywine Park while stationed at NSGA Sugar Grove, WV.
Trees identified while we were stationed at Misawa AB in Northern Japan.
Identifying trees in Aurora, Colorado. The Front Range of the Rockies.

     I recently started identifying the trees at my current duty station; Buckley AFB, Aurora CO. I've been here a while, but I haven't had many opportunities to enjoy this hobby at my new location. I recently found a suitable location to do some hiking and tree identifying. Sandy creek and Star Ranch recreational areas are nearby places where I can spend some time enjoying my hobby, and I hope to spend more time there in the future.

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Author: Robert L. Vaessen e-mail: robert robsworld org

Last updated:Sunday, June 10, 2001

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