Friday, March 19, 2010


1. the branch of botany dealing with trees and shrubs.
2. the scientific study of trees and other woody plants.

A couple of weeks ago we were thrilled to notice beautiful trees all over the base flowering in the spring sun. This has led us to talking about how the flowers on trees will turn into some kind of fruit, whether it be berries, oranges, or whatever. Now whenever Hunter sees a tree with flowers on it he excitedly yells, "Mom, those are going to turn into fruit!"

I used to think that the clean-cut, carefully-manicured, overly-pesticided environment of the base was going to be void of many nature experiences. But things continue to pop up from mushroom discoveries to insects to leaves to birds. It's not exactly a nature preserve but there is still much to be learned and explored.

Dendrology, aka studying trees, is one thing I am very excited about. There are so many interesting trees around here and such a great variety, I can't wait to put them in our tree book and start learning the names of some of them. Even just on the base, there is this peculiar and interesting mix of palms, pines, and deciduous trees in all these crazy shapes and sizes. Today we found a palm tree that looked like a ten-foot pineapple and one with cactus-like spikes on the leaves.

I want to make tree-study a year-long biology adventure (i.e. pictures of the tree in spring, summer, fall, and winter) but with my eminent disorganization and sidetrackedness at times, this goal never seems to be realized (this has been something I have wanted to do since Hunter was two and a half).

But maybe with our upcoming focus on biology this year for kindergarten, my motivation will be a little higher and my persistence more consistent. Maybe.

But anyway, even if I don't manage to get a perfect picture with every desired tree at every season, we are still going to be setting out and exploring trees, doing bark-rubbings, collecting leaves, flowers, and twigs for our nearly-empty book, and maybe learning a thing or two about each. I love free resources and I love the internet, so for those of you who feel the same, here are some of the super dendrology resources we will be using:
  • has a wonderful online field guide of over 900 trees. You can browse by category (like Palms or Needle-leaf Conifers) and then narrow your search by biological families or by location (choose from fourteen different North American regions). It is very cool.
  • has a great Tree Identification Glossary. I really like this one and need to make up some Doman-style word cards with these.

For a physical copy you can carry around with you (you know, like when you're actually out there looking at the trees), we use the DK Smithsonian Trees Handbook. It's really nice and has tons of pictures, not only for learning about the species of trees themselves but for many dendrology topics in general, like identifying leaves and types of bark. It's very cool in my opinion.

Happy learning!

"As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth."
Psalm 103:15
Hunter is 5 years, 0 months old

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