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Street treesOne of the most fun things the average backyard naturalist can do is to identify and list all the trees in his or her neighborhood. If your street looks anything like the one at the right you have it made, for there are lots of trees to know there, as you can see.

Though when I made the list I lived in a forest and therefore may have a longer tree list than you might develop, you may be interested in seeing a tree list for my own backyard.

Other pages in this section will introduce you to tree features you will need to look at if you begin identifying and listing trees. These pages focus on the following topics:

So, how can you begin on your own list?

TREE IDENTIFICATION

First, here are some sites on the Internet that can help you identify trees:

You probably won't be wanting to carry your computer down the street too often so really you need a good field guide for the trees. Take a look at the tree field guides at the right.

WHY TREES MAKE GOOD STUDY SUBJECTS

Trees make a good study topic not only because there are good field guides to help you identify them, but also because the number of tree species is just about perfect. My own field guide to North American trees includes about 730 species, and the list of trees for the woods outside my trailer lists 57 species.

Well, these are numbers an average brain can wrap itself around. If you decide to spend a summer learning all your area's trees, figuring out 57 species is doable. If you chose to identify and list all of your area's insects, that would be impossible for a summer because there are too many of them. If you chose to list all your area turtles, you'd probably find 3 or 4, and then that would be it. But... a number around 50 feels good.

Another reason learning your local trees is fun is simply because they are interesting. Each species produces its own unique kind of flower and fruit. Some have edible fruits, some produce dyes and some are medicinal. Many kinds of wildlife utilize trees so when you see how trees benefit animals, you begin getting a feeling for how the Web of Life works, how everything in nature is dependent on everything else.

Finally, there's just something about a tree that is friendly and noble. It stands there all day photosynthesizing oxygen for us to breathe, providing shade, sharing itself with the rest of the world, and all it asks is to be left alone. This is a being worth knowing, worth getting close to.

THE iNATURALIST.ORG WEBSITE

Once you have identified a few species you might enjoy posting them at the wonderful iNaturalist.Org website.

TREE FIELD
GUIDES:

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