Sunday, March 9, 2014

Barking Up the Right Tree

In most cases, trees can be identified by their bark alone. Local legend and world famous botanist, Asa Gray (1810-1888) began his long career as a plant taxonomist by learning to identify trees this way. The different textures, colors and patterns are in most cases quite distinctive. The bark of a tree almost always changes as a tree matures, so learning to recognize the bark of a single species can be more involved than one might think.
The bark of a mature American Basswood shows long, dark vertical fishers 
American Basswood
The bark of the Black Cherry is dark and fractured into relatively even-sized chips
Eastern Hophornbeam bark peels off in thin vertical strips
The bark of a healthy American Beech tree is smooth and gray
Yellow Birch bark peels horizontally and may appear  quite golden 
Bitternut Hickory has a network of fine shallow fissures - note the intersecting line of sapsucker holes
Hickories usually have very straight trunks
A mature Big Tooth Aspen's bark has fissures that are wide and deep
Big Tooth Aspen bark has the look of a distant mountain range
River Birch bark can be extremely peeled and is often copper-colored 
A young White Birch has very white bark, which peels into long rolls
The bark of Wild Grape Vines peel vertically and can look very shaggy
This Grape Vine managed to tie itself into a knot
The bark of a medium age Quaking Aspen is smooth and light with a greenish tint
Quaking Aspen is the beaver's favorite food
The bark of a mature Sugar Maple can be quite variable 
A Sugar Maple trunk covered with moss
Northern Striped Maple (Moosewood) bark is green and has thin wavy stripes
Fairly wide ridges - some running diagonally, characterize the bark of Butternut
Pin Cherry has dark bark with irregular darker horizontal lines
European Buckthorn bark is dark and usually peels horizontally into rolls

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