Why You Should Learn How to Identify Trees

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Here on the farm we’re learning how to identify trees, and we wanted to share our thoughts about why you should learn how to identify trees, too. In our day and age it’s easy to instantly get answers from our phone for questions like, “what tree is this?” But we believe that there is still value in doing things the old fashioned way, digging deeper, and really learning the characterisics of trees and how to identify them on our own.

Building Relationships

We want to be at home in the outdoors, and part of that is being familiar with plants and animals. It’s hard to feel at home with someone if you don’t know their name, or anything about them. Which is where Tree ID comes in for us. The more we learn about the trees in our own yard, the more like old friends they become, and the better relationship we have with the world around us. Just like with people, names are the quickest thing to learn about a tree, and are the beginning of our relationship with it. But don’t stop there! When we start to dig deeper into the characteristics of trees, then we begin to deepen our outdoor relationships, and that results in being much more at home with the world around us.

Large sycamore leaf laying on the ground surrounded by other leaves

Observation and Attention

With most of us today, our attention and observation skills are a bit rusty. As we’ve started diging deeper into tree identification, we’ve noticed that we’re learning to slow down, look closer, and pay attention to details that we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. Observation and Attention are such valuable skills for every area of life, and it’s been exciting to see how this new study is helping us to hone these skills. For instance, we’ve learned about the difference between simple and compound leaves and how to tell which one a tree has (we’ll teach you more about this in another post!). The girls are pointing this out everywhere, and we’re looking a little closer to see if we can see those little leaf buds that give away the answer. Honing observation and attention skills alone is a great reason for you to learn how to identify trees, but there’s one even more important one.

Hand holding branch showing leaf buds
Look at the tiny leaf buds where each leaf joins the stem

The Knowledge of God

Psalms is full of references to how creation points us to God and declares His glory to us. Which is why we believe that the study of the world around us, and in this case particularly trees, teaches us about God, brings glory to him, and inspires us with awe for God as the Creator. Studying the works of an artist, is a way of honoring the artist, and no earthly artist is as worthy of study as God is. Have you looked closely at his handiwork lately? As we learn how to identify trees, we are constantly reminded of what an incredible Creator God is.

Hand holding sweetgum leaf showing leaf veins
Notice the veins on the back of this Sweet Gum leaf

Want you join us?

So, what do you think, Friend? Are these good enough reasons to dig deeper into how to identify trees for yourself? Do you feel at home amongst friends when you are outside? How good are your observation and attention skills? Do you long for a deeper knowledge of God? We hope you’ll join us and learn how to identify some of the trees in your own backyard. There are so many characteristics that make each tree unique. Go outside and take a look.

Hand holding oak leaves
Can you see the tiny bristles on the tips of these oak leaves?

Some Ideas to Get Started

We’ll dive into what all we’ve been learning in another post/video, but here are a few ideas to get you started looking closer at the trees around you.

  • Does it have leaves or needles?
  • What shape is the leaf?
  • What are the edges of the leaf like?
  • Does the bottom of the leaf feel different than the top?
  • Notice the veins in the leaf.
  • Look closely at the bark. How is it similar or different than a nearby tree?
  • Does it have flowers, fruits, or seeds that you can see?
  • Compare the leaves, or bark of a few different trees

How Did It Go?

Once you’ve looked a little closer at your nearby trees, come back and tell us what you’ve discovered. There is always more to see and learn, and we’re excited to have you join us as we learn how to identify trees!

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