Tree Identification

Black Rock Forest is home to 65 species of trees and many species of shrubs. A dendrology identification key has been established to enable students to identify 25 of the most common woody species. The key uses leaf anatomy and structure as identification clues. Leaf-out at Black Rock Forest occurs in late April and leaf-fall begins in mid-October.

A close examination of tree leaves and bark reveals the various types of trees in Black Rock Forest. Students learn the distinguishing attributes of leaves that lead to the accurate identification of the tree species. Younger students can collect a pile of leaves to sort, discover leaf attributes and, later, identify the trees. On a dendrology hike, students encounter a wide range of trees to identify.

Older students can learn to distinguish woody plant species using leaf and bark characteristics in concert with a dichotomous key. They can then test their skills on a test course with numbered trees. Teachers can adjust this course to accommodate the difficulty level that is needed for their students. For example, a more challenging activity can be pursued in late fall through early spring, keying out species using only bark, twig and bud characteristics.  

Worksheets, glossary,  identification guides and instructions for collecting and pressing leaf specimens are included in the resources.