Friday, April 27, 2007

Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day. The day set aside to plant a tree. My grandparents have a row of spruce trees in their side yard, thanks to all the grandchildren. Living in an apartment, as a child, I needed somewhere to plant all those Arbor Day seedlings. So every year, the weekend after Arbor Day I would plant another tree in the row. Now those trees are 12-30 feet tall and create a nice wind block and a nice reminder to me of time spent with my grandparents. For more information about Arbor Day: state tree, projects, check out their website.

Our plan for the day is to take a walk around the yard and then head for the woods. We'll look at the bark, the shape, the new buds, the placement of buds on the twig. Of course, I'll take along A Key to the Woody Plants of Minnesota by Brother Charles Severin, FSC. Yes, I live in Wisconsin, but this book works well for the entire Northern Midwest. We will use this book to key out trees we do not know. If you are unfamiliar with dichotomous keys check out this website. Basically a dichotomous key gives you two options for characteristics. You look at the specimen, decide which option is true and then go to the next set of characteristics. Each time you get closer and closer to the actual name of the specimen (tree in this case).

For example:

1 leaves less than 5 mm wide -go to number 2
1 leaves more than 5 mm wide -go to number 22

The weather forecast calls for a high of 65 and partly sunny. Looks like a great day to get outside observing trees.