Big, obvious and extremely slow moving...

When all else is hiding or dormant, you can always count on trees to be there for you to observe. Its perfectly fine to make separate observations of several individuals of the same species in the same general area, especially it is particularly common or they are at different stages of growth. It is also completely acceptable to make more than one observation of the same individual on different days or by different observers. Each time you make an observation of an individual organism, you become more skilled at both observation and at recognizing that species in the wild. Each observation that is uploaded adds to the depth and breadth of information about that species available to us all.



If you are not sure which tree species you are observing, it helps to collect several images of the tree to help out with a good secure identification:

  • the whole tree in its environment
  • the bark on the trunk
  • the leaves or needles – a branch showing how the leaves or needles are attached is very useful; for some species you might need both the top and underside of the leaf as well. If there are no leaves on the tree, look on the ground underneath for fallen ones and/or take pictures showing the leaf buds on the twigs.
  • the flowers and/or fruit if present

When you upload your observation, add notes about anything you noticed that doesn't show up in your images - like the fragrance of the flowers or the stickiness of the leaf buds. Remember to choose the cultivated/captive option if you know (or suspect) that someone planted the tree that you are observing. There is a good chance that the tree is planted if there are no other similar trees nearby, especially if is growing in a mown lawn or planted in evenly spaced straight lines. :) Once you are familiar with a particular tree, you will know exactly what features are needed for an identifier to be sure about the species. Then you will be able to highlight what is needed in only one or two images.

Seven different native tree species are commonly found growing wild inside the boundaries of our CNC area. Wild trees can be found all along the creeks and rivers as well in many of the city parks. Some native trees are particularly good at springing up in the gaps in our built environment. Look for seedlings and saplings nearby established trees. Before you go you can also use the 'Explore' and the taxon pages to check out the observations that others have already uploaded.

Manitoba maple
everywhere
this is the most frequently observed tree in our survey area – almost as easy to find as falling off a log. It may be starting to bloom – reddish tipped clusters held toward the end of the branches but with leaves only just emerging. Seeds from last year will still be hanging on the tree in some places as well as scattered on the ground underneath. The purplish-red colour of the smooth bark of the twigs that grew last year contrasts with the grayish ridged bark of the main trunk and older branches. There may even be maple seedlings sprouting if the soil is warm enough.
Bur oak
riverbank forests, nature parks like Assiniboine Forest; undeveloped land with ‘bush’
the second most frequently observed tree in the survey area. It very likely will not have any green leaves or flowers during the survey period – it is the last tree in our area to leaf out in the spring. There still may be a few brown leaves hanging on to a twig so you can see the distinctive lobed oak leaf shape. The dark bark is very rough and ridged. Oaks are slow growers but are long-lived so they can get quite large. The central trunk spreads into a globular crown – some feel the somewhat crooked branches give it a spooky appearance.
Trembling aspen
nature parks like Assiniboine Forest; undeveloped land with ‘bush’
this is the second most commonly observed tree in southern Manitoba – inside the survey area you will have to work a little harder to find it. Trembling aspen is one of the earliest trees in bloom – round buds expand into fluffy catkins which then form strings of green fruits that explode into fluff. Aspen seeds do not have particularly good germination rates. The tree compensates for this by being very good at expanding a few trees into a forest of trees through root suckers. In spring, you can see which trunks are actually part of the same tree because they all come into bloom at the same time. Aspen bark is quite smooth and thin – they can actually photosynthesize through it – so in the spring, it can have a greenish tinge. The bark produces a whitish powder to prevent the tree warming up too fast before it is safe to do so. Older aspen bark can be roughened and black in places, scarred by damage from animals and fungi.
White spruce
near planted spruce
the only evergreen tree in our list, this conifer is a favourite for planting in yards and shelterbelts - and often downwind from those plantings you will find seedlings and saplings growing wild. White spruce needles are four-sided and whitened along the sides. They are attached to the twigs singly in a spiral pattern around the twig, but are more thickly clustered on the top of the branches to get the best light.
American elm
riverbank forests
The silhouette of the elm's single trunk with arching spreading crown is very familiar to Winnipeg residents as it was planted extensively on residential streets. It can also be found along the rivers within the city, though both planted and wild trees have been hit hard by Dutch elm disease. Leaves have prominent veins and are heavily toothed - with a slightly lopsided leaf base. Flowers are in drooping clusters like the maple but the fruit is oval and flat.
Eastern cottonwood
riverbank forests
This relative of the trembling aspen can grow very tall with huge trunks with heavy flattened ridges. Leaves are triangular with wavy teeth. The pointed leaf buds can be gummy and young trees have thin greenish bark so look for some old leaves to make sure you have a cottonwood and not a balsam poplar.
Basswood
riverbank forests
Basswood trees have a distinctive fruit that often persists on the tree through to spring. It is a pale brown hard 'berry' dropping from an elongated 'leaf' Trees can grow quite large and have bark with soft flat scaly ridges.
Balsam poplar
nature parks like Assiniboine Forest; undeveloped land with ‘bush’
Medium sized trees with a single trunk branching into a narrow crown. It can be confused with trembling aspen or eastern cottonwood- look out for the long pointed copper brown buds. In the spring they will be very sticky to the touch and a have a fresh exotic smell.

Each tree you spend time observing supports a host of other living organisms - from the fungi and lichens seen on the bark, the insects feeding in the flowers, the birds feeding on the insects. Go ahead and add observations of them as well. Each observation builds up our collective knowledge of the whole. Each new connection between organisms I find reminds me how connected I am to the natural world around me - linked to all as are all living things.

Publicado por marykrieger marykrieger, 12 de diciembre de 2020

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