Week 2: Early Spring Tree ID Using Bark & Buds
Early spring is a great time to try to identify deciduous trees by their bark and buds. This week our pocket nature guide will teach you how to identify 3 trees in our region this way; Northern Red Oak, Red Maple, & American Beech.
LEAF & BRANCHING PATTERNS:
Alternate: Climb up the branches or buds one at a time
Opposite: Branches and buds appear in pairs
Ridges and Furrows: Vertical ridges separated by deep furrows
Vertical Strips: Strips running from top to bottom that are at least three times longer than wide
Smooth/Unbroken: Not peeling, cracked, or furrowed
TREES WE WILL IDENTIFY:
Northern Red Oak: (Quercus rubra)
Bark Color: Greenish brown or gray, with rusty red inner bark
Bark Type: Wide, flat-topped ridges run vertically down the tree and
look like ski trails; dark, shallow, reddish furrows separate the ridges
Branches: Alternate and heavy
Buds: Alternate, sharp and tapering with hairs near the tip, resemble a crown
Leaves: Bristle-tipped lobes (some may still be on tree)
Red Maple: (Acer rubrum)
Bark Color: Light to dark gray
Bark Type: Almost smooth to crackled, vertical, plate-like strips; on older trees, strips curl outward on either side; sometimes bull’s eye target caused by a fungus
Buds: Opposite, short, red balls, often clustered, on red twigs
Leaves: Opposite, 3-5 lobes with edges irregularly toothed
Fruit: Winged samara
American Beech: (Fagus grandifolia)
Bark Color: Silver-gray or grayish green
Bark Type: Smooth/Unbroken (often pockmarks or cankers caused by beech bark disease)
Buds: Alternate, long, slender, come to sharp point
Leaves: Alternate, 3-5 inches long, hooked teeth on edge (some remain until new leaves form)
Fruit: Bur filled with two triangular shaped seeds
Do not be afraid to go out on a limb . . . that’s where the fruit is.” Anonymous
Note: Don’t pick more than one bud/tree as the leaves they
become are necessary to produce food
Bring some sheets of white paper and crayons/pencil outside
Place the paper against the bark of a tree and make a rubbing
- Compare the different types of patterns made in your bark rubbings.
- Can you identify any of the bark patterns listed above?
Gather five to ten acorns like a squirrel
Hide each one in a special place like under a rock or beside a fallen log, making sure to remember where you placed them
Leave your acorns behind and do another activity
When you return to the area where you hid the acorns, try to find them
How does it feel to be a squirrel?
How many did you find?
Did you find some acorns that your family members hid?
What will happen to the acorns you didn’t find?
Opposite (Red Maple) Alternate (Red Oak)
Click the PDF icon to the left. Set to print at 95% or fit
to page. Cut around the grey border before folding.