Friday, August 18, 2017

Tree classification

I've decided to record some of my *very important* tree classification notes here. I can't believe my entire tree vocabulary has been reduced to "tree" my entire life. These wonderful Montessori conferences explain how small children will absorb any vocabulary you say to them, so you should start with flower and then specify "dandelion" or "rose". The more complex the word, the better it is for their brain. Well, now I can start to do that with trees. Every time I walk or drive around I try to look at the tree shapes and trunks and my head almost explodes from thinking about how many different types of trees there are in the world and how I will never learn them all. Creation is really very beautiful and diverse.

London Plane tree (English)/ Plátano (Português)/ Platanus (Latin)
The first tree I learned to identify, after cork oak and pines, is the London Plane. By the way, I am almost exclusively using the Kingfisher Field Guides Trees of Britain and Europe pictured in that post. I was very excited to learn the London Plane because they are everywhere, in every playground and I remember them from my childhood! I clearly remember the spiky balls and wondering if that's where walnuts come from. Well friends, it's not. This is a tall tree that is easily spotted by its scaling bark with patches of creamy white and by its globular, spiky fruits.

Jacaranda/Jacarandá/Jacaranda mimosifolia
This took me forever and online help to identify because they are not flowering right now. When they are flowering, their purplish/blue flowers are easily spotted and fall everywhere, especially on your car. They are very common in Lisbon. And around my house, too. Luckily they still have their woody seed pods, which are tough and 2-3 inches big. They have leaves twice divided into leaflets.

Silver Birch/Vidoeiro branco/Betula pendula
I was happy to find a silver birch tree because they also remind me of my childhood neighborhood. They have beautiful smooth, white bark, they are slender and have long, green catkins (those caterpillar-like "fruits" of trees).

Red bottlebrush flower/Callistemon/Callistemon
This is actually a shrub, and not a tree, so I didn't find it in my book. But it is so common and I've seen it so many times that I wanted to know what it was called. And now I can see the difference between shrubs and trees better.

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