Winter Botany

  • Participants in a winter ecology walk compare the winter buds on a plant specimen to those pictured in a guide.
  • Conrad Vispo teaches participants on a winter ecology walk about a coniferous tree.

We are offering a series of winter ecology walks (Nov 2016 - Feb 2017; check calendar for details) as an opportunity to become more familiar with the art of identifying woody plants without their leaves. We have compiled some Winter Botany resources to help walk participants and people who are interested, but can’t come to the walks, to delve deeper into the mysteries of winter botany.

On Saturday, Nov. 19th, which turned out to be the last balmy day of this fall, we met here at the Creekhouse for a brief introduction to the many different clues which can be helpful in identifying plants in the winter. Amongst other things, we were reminded to consider overall shape (gestalt) of a tree or shrub; to look at the bark; at the arrangement of twigs and buds (alternate vs. opposite); at the size, shape, color, and texture of the buds; to check if freshly broken twigs have a distinct smell; to not forget to look for leaves and remains of fruit on the ground; and to always be aware of the habitat where the plant is found.

Then, our multi-generational group spent a couple of hours inspecting in some detail the characteristics of trees and shrubs growing on Hawthorne Valley Farm’s recently acquired Schnackenberg Road property.