Saturday, October 8, 2011

Big Trees: What it is and a book review

Today was the first time I stopped to listen to the wind under a white pine tree. It was much quieter than the wind under a white oak.

Big Trees. "I" of GAIN and I spent the morning with Chris from the Dallas County Conservation Board to learn about Big Trees.

She also climbed a few trees, which came in handy a couple times. The wind from the last few days made leaves scarce and hard to reach, so "I" went after a few for us as we learned terminology and how to use the key in our books.

The Big Tree Program is a way to recognize our big trees, their owners and finders. It is also a way for people and communities to get a little competitive with each other, just like geocaching. I think it is a great program that gets you to appreciate trees in a family friendly way. And I'm thinking WAYMARKS!!! Iowa has a couple of the nation's biggest trees (National Champions). Imagine that!

All trees must be nominated (see the link for the nomination form and someone will verify it). Dallas County is handling their year-long, county-wide program a little differently -- the hope is to not only identify the county's big trees, but also to record stories of the trees. One story came from a gal at today's program. Family lore says that two trees on her grandfather's farm were planted -- one for her aunt and one for her uncle. They would be around 100 years old today. How neat is that?

Book review. We used a new release (July 2011) of Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa. This book is SUPERIOR to any tree field guide I've ever used. (I own six.) It is similar to the Winter Tree Finder, but Iowa specific. Where the Winter Tree Finder would tell me that I've got a pine, Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa would tell what kind of pine. The dichotomous key inside is deep yet easy to use, and our naturalist explained terms like compound leaves in a way that made a lot of sense to me. I've also attended an Iowa Tree ICN class with the kids, presented by the IDNR Dept. of Forestry, but I learned much more in today's class. I believe the hands-on experience of using a book (which you can't do easily over the ICN) helped.

Aside from including Iowa trees (native and introduced), the book includes a large picture of the leafy branch, buds, flowers, fruits, and winter twigs. This is a very big positive for laypeople like me.

I will be buying my own copy this year. To purchase your own copy, visit these associate links from my home education company:
For an introduction to trees, my county has a tree-themed Park Pack that is suitable for the very young as well as more mature children to enjoy.

When was the first or last time you listened to a tree? Leave a comment.

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