I was very excited to have the opportunity to take a winter tree identification class. I attended a great University of Maryland Extension (UME) Master Gardener Advanced Training course with UME native plant specialist Sara Tangren last week. I assumed we’d be looking at bark. The classroom at the Extension in Westminster was filled with tree twigs… not bark.
I never took the time to really notice the details of a twig. The opposite leaf pairs on the stem are opposite side to side, then front to back. I never paid attention to that simple pattern. I recognized new stem growth and last years’ growth, terminal buds, leaf scars, vein scars, lenticels, etc.
Maple twig buds and leaf scars are opposite. A trick to remember trees that have opposite leaves is “MAD Horse Buck” – Maple – Ash – Dogwood – Horse Chestnut – Buckeye!
How well do you know your trees? Can you identify the trees in the images above? Do you know where to start and what to look for?
When we get tree identification questions at the Home & Garden Information Center, we look not only at the leaves or needles but also the leaf arrangement along the branches, the size and shape of the tree, the bark, buds, and fruits too.
If you want to get better at tree identification, like most anything, it helps to have a good foundation and to practice. If you are interested in getting better at tree identification, you may be interested in the upcoming events we are sponsoring.
Americans have a lot of lawn – an area over 8 times the size of New Jersey is dedicated to alien grasses and the constant mowing that they require. Much of this lawn is unused, even unwanted. This is the situation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which maintains about 100 acres of turf. Staff were interested in converting unused lawns to meadows for the cost savings and the environmental benefits: pollinator habitat, cleaner air, cleaner water. Unfortunately, no one on the staff had converted lawn to meadow before, so they teamed up with the Maryland Master Gardener program, and the Meadow Making Advanced Training class series was born!
Throughout 2016 and 2017, Master Gardeners and Goddard staff have worked side by side, learning how to convert unused lawn into native meadow by solarizing weeds, adjusting soil pH, remediating soil compaction, sowing native seeds, and monitoring the germination of native seedlings and weeds.
All that planning and preparation have paid off. On Tuesday I visited to assist Goddard staff with the monthly monitoring and maintenance of the meadow. Of the 34 native species originally sown or plugged, 24 were confirmed present, and some are even blooming already: Continue reading →