The Problem With Trees

Trees are plants. They bloom. My botany project, a Dent County Flora, needs pictures of these trees.

Each of the plant entries requires several pictures. For trees this includes the winter bud, the bark, twigs if there is something special about them, the tree, leaves, flowers and fruit.

The problem with trees is their height. At five foot and change, I don’t have much height. Trees tower over my head.

bark of a shingle oak tree
Tree bark is the easy picture to get of a tree. It doesn’t matter if the tree is in a crowd of other trees. The trunk is in easy reach. And the bark helps in identifying the tree. This particular shingle oak is an old friend. It grows at the base of the hill pasture and has gotten steadily bigger over the almost thirty years I’ve known it.

I’ve never been much of a tree climber. I’m not about to learn now. That leaves me staring up at the things I want pictures of.

One solution would be to cut some trees down. This is not the solution I want to use. First because I don’t want to cut down three trees (one for winter buds, one for flowers and leaves, a third for the fruit) of each kind. Second because I don’t use a chainsaw any more.

Another solution is to find the same trees being used as yard trees in town. I suppose this is cheating in a way. However, I definitely find the trees out in the wild before I resort to this solution.

the problem with trees is reaching the bud of a shingle oak tree
Leaves are a favorite way to identify a tree. Unfortunately leaves are not reliable in the winter as many trees drop them in the fall. Oaks don’t easily drop their leaves, but they shrivel up and get torn off by the wind. guide books to winter trees go by the bark and the winter buds. Each kind of tree seems to have a unique winter bud arrangement. Notice the arrangement of these buds. Each is covered by scales to seal out winter weather. Luckily these buds are within reach with my hooked walking stick.

Still another approach is to find young trees with branches within reach. As I have an eight foot walking stick with a hook in the end, this young tree can be fairly tall. I can reach up ten to twelve feet easily to snag a branch and pull it down as long as it is supple and long enough to get down into grabbing distance.

This last method works well for winter buds, leaves, twigs. If I am lucky, it works for flowers and fruit. Most of the trees like to put their flowers up high, out of reach.

The main problem with trees is their height. Once I solve that one for a particular species, I’m left with two others. One is getting to the tree at the right time to see the flowers and fruit. The other is identifying the tree correctly which can be a big problem with hickories and oaks.