What Type Of Tree Is That?

What Type of Tree is That? Gingko Tree by FlowerChick.com

Have you ever been taking a walk and you come across a magnificent looking tree and wondered, “What type of tree is that?”

Recently I completed a tree identification course from the online offerings at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. I’ve always wanted to learn more about trees! It frustrates me when I’m going for a walk and see a majestic tree and don’t know what it is. I’m constantly asking myself, what type of tree is that? Hmmm, I think it’s a maple but it doesn’t have the typical leaf shape …

This was a beginners course as I have a lot to learn about trees and I wanted to start out with the basics. There are so many different types of trees in our area it’s truly mind boggling. Take the oak family for example … there are over 600 varieties and not all of them have the classic oak shaped leaves.

I thought the above video was interesting and a different way to identify trees besides the usual visual clues. Smelling twigs, who knew? ; )

Where To Find Gardening Courses

Most local arboretums, botanical gardens, and state extension services offer courses to further your gardening knowledge for a low cost. For instance, I’m a member of the local arboretum and their classes range from $10 – $50. You can sign up for courses even if you are not a member. The guest prices are just slightly higher and still a very good deal.

They cover a lot of topics too! Some of those currently offered at Morton Arboretum include: Basic Nature Photography, Invasive Species Identification, Winter Pruning Tips, Starting Vegetables From Seed, Botanical Names Demystified, and Growing a Productive Edible Garden. They add more subjects per season … there are a lot of interesting courses to choose from no matter the time of year.

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The Leaves and Acorns of a White Oak Tree

Wintertime is the perfect time to bone up on various gardening topics! It’s cold outside, your garden is dormant, why not increase your knowledge base and discover a new hobby?

A good way to start is to do a Google search for classes, or see what you can find on You Tube. If a certain topic grabs your attention, then watch a few videos. If you want to take a deeper dive into the subject matter, then sign up for a course.

What Type of Tree is That? My Experience Taking An Online Tree ID Course

The course I recently completed through the Morton Arboretum on “Basic Tree Identification” included two eLearning training modules you could access at your own pace for up to 60 days. Also included were exercises where you could apply your skills, helpful bonus materials, and a test at the end to access your knowledge.

There were 10 engaging activities in total … I really enjoyed the coursework and learned a lot about trees in the process. Now I’m itching to take another course now that we’re stuck inside more in the winter!

I found the above video helpful to identify trees after their leaves have fallen. Really makes you think more about the bark characteristics …

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Test Your Tree Knowledge

I put together this short quiz so you can see how much you know about basic tree id … have fun and enjoy!

Welcome to your Basic Tree ID Quiz

1. What type of tree has a fan-shaped leaf?
2. Which tree is the official state tree of Illinois?
3. Which of these trees is known for its "helicopter" (samaras) seed pods?
4. What tree has cordate (heart-shaped) leaves?
5. What makes pine needles unique from spruce or firs?

(Answers at the bottom of this post)

There’s No Time Like The Present To Take A Class

Conifers by FlowerChick.com

Winter is nature’s dormant time; it gives us a chance to slow down and renew our bonds with the natural world … take a walk, appreciate the bone’s of trees, watch the birds, read that book you’ve wanted to, and perhaps learn something new.

Look to the future. No matter how long you have been gardening, there is always more to learn and something new to try: Composting, Vegetable Gardening, Hydroponics, Bonsai, Organic Gardening, Fruit Trees, Success With Roses …

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Online gardening courses are great way to overcome feeling overwhelmed and gives you a plan of (garden) attack. You can probably find gardening courses in your area, both in person and online, or some are a combination of both. They offer the convenience of taking them whenever you have the time and pause whenever you need to take notes or try something out.

Tree Quiz Answers:
  1. Gingko
  2. White Oak
  3. Silver Maple
  4. Linden
  5. Always grow in clusters from a single origin point on a branch
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