Our Tree Identification Project: Mapping & Gathering

We’re taking on a project – to identify every tree in our backyard!  You can read about the beginning of our project here.

Tree Identification Project

The leaves are starting to fall fast and furious, so we began the first part of our tree identification project over the weekend.  I started out by making a very rudimentary map of our backyard.  I walked the backyard and drew a circle on my map for every tree.  Each tree was given a letter (Tree A, Tree B, etc).  I knew we had a lot of trees, but was still surprised at the final count: 26!  (To put into perspective how exciting this is for us: in our last home we had five small trees.)

Eli and I then began the process of collecting leaves from each tree.  Once we had a leaf, I wrote the corresponding letter of the tree it came from on the back of the leaf in Sharpie.  I also made notes on my map if the tree had some distinctive characteristic, such as shaggy bark, or if it produced berries or nuts.

Beyond the connection with nature we get from just observing the trees and their leaves, we found ourselves making other discoveries in our backyard.  Beneath the oak tree there is a small woodpile.  Eli pointed out that there were all kinds of mushrooms and fungi in and around it.  We also noticed a few different kinds of animal droppings and we wondered together what kind of animals might lurk around the woodpile.  And then Eli spotted this guy:

Walking Stick Insect

He might not be a tree, but he is a walking stick!

Next up is the big task – figuring out exactly what kind of trees we have.  In preparation I’ve checked out just about every book on tree identification our library had!  I’d love to know if you’ve used other resources besides books.  Have you searched online?  Is there an app for that?  If so, we’d love to hear what’s been helpful to you!  We’ll update you on our progress next week!