Know Your Trees!

Learn how to identify 31 species of trees on the Tree ID Trail. This trail starts from the picnic area.

Trees are important to our world for many reasons. Without trees (and other plants) there would be no oxygen to breathe!

Trees also provide for hundreds of products we use every day. Besides lumber and utility poles, did you know photographic slides and film come from trees? Cellulose, or wood fiber, is used to thicken shampoo, toothpaste, ice cream and salad dressing.

Trees are a renewable resource! They are replanted and grown to provide more resources for the future.

And just about every paper product we use is made from trees. Notebook paper, newsprint, fast-food bags, grocery bags, paper towels, toilet paper, and diapers are just a few. How many more can you think of? (Product information cited from Georgia-Pacific.)

In Georgia, pine trees (the species used for lumber and paper) are planted in long rows like crops. Only these "crops" are harvested every 15-25 years, depending upon the use of the tree. New seedlings are planted after every cut.

A clearcut area may look barren and lifeless, but by clearing away the previously planted trees, space is opened up for succulent plants to grow that were not able to compete in the understory before the cutting. This new growth is excellent food and shelter for wildlife.

So many trees...

There are 2 types of trees: Hardwood and Softwood.
Hardwoods are deciduous meaning they lose their leaves in the Fall.
Softwoods are conifers, or cone-bearing trees. Their leaves are in the form of needles.

The most common types of hardwoods you will find at Dauset Trails are oaks (red, white, water, and post), hickory, yellow poplar, maple, beech, cherry, sweetgum, sourwood, red mulberry and dogwood.

The most common conifers at Dauset Trails are loblolly pines, shortleaf pines and cedars.

They all look alike- how do you tell them apart?

For example, how do you identify a dogwood?      By its bark!

Actually, the bark is a good place to start because with a little bit of practice, you will notice each tree has a different color and texture on their outer layer.

Leaves are great, but won't help in late fall and winter. Buds are always available but are harder to memorize.

Pignut Hickory
Black cherry
Red Oak
Yellow Poplar
Loblolly Pine
Shortleaf Pine
Eastern Red cedar

Images cited from "Important Forest Trees of the Eastern United States" USDA-Forest Service

Print a Poster!
Click this picture to reveal a leaf poster
from the GA Forestry Commission.

Trees can be aged by counting inner rings. Trees are made of woody tissue that forms every year as rings. These rings grow from under the bark inwardly and reveal a lot about a tree.

By counting the rings of a felled tree, you can determine the age, how wet or dry the growing seasons were, when a fire swept through the area, when damage or scarring occurred, and more.
Rings grow wider in the spring and summer wet seasons and slow down in the winter season. Each ring has two colors: the light color is the wet season growth and the dark color is the cold or dry season growth. If the light color portion of the ring is narrow, then there was not much rain that year. When aging a tree, just count either the light or the dark portion, not both.
How old is the tree above?

cross section of Eastern Red cedar- rings are hard to see in this photo.

The layers of a tree (from outer to inner): Bark, phloem, cambium, sapwood, heartwood, pith.

The Bark grows in a variety of texture and thickness and protects the tree from disease, animals and fire.

Phloem carries sap (sugar and nutrients dissolved in water) from the leaves to the rest of the tree, and in the spring, from the roots up to the rest of the tree.

Cambium is a thin layer of growing tissue that forms more phloem and sapwood.

Sapwood transports the nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves. Old sapwood forms heartwood.

Heartwood is the central portion of the tree and provides strength.

Pith is the core of the heartwood and is more evident in young trees. In mature trees, the pith may be hollow, chambered, or spongy.

Trees not only benefit the planet with oxygen, they provide us with materials to make products for everyday living. Trees are also excellent sources of food and shelter for wildlife. How many ways do you think birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects benefit from trees? The key is a balanced use of trees for people and the natural world.

This introduction to the world of trees is a great start. For more information, study the many excellent field guides and reference books available at bookstores everywhere. Know your trees!