Tree Basics Class: Tree ID by Season: Winter


Winter unmasks nature, revealing our local woody trees in their most skeletal form. Participants learned that while leaves have mostly fallen from our deciduous trees, there are many other reliable ways to identify trees in winter by observing the bare bones of plants – branching structure, bark, buds and leaf scars.  Tree Steward Emily Ferguson especially emphasized bark as a way to identify our winter trees. The first hour was spent indoors going over what to look for to identify a tree in winter, then we went outside to apply what we had learned. Emily will offer her free class on Tree Identification in Spring on Saturday, April 11 at 9:30 at the Ivy Creek Natural Area’s Education Center. Visit our calendar to register when the course is posted.

Brush Up Your Pruning Skills

Brush Up Your Pruning Skills

Several Tree Stewards pruned trees recently along the JW Warner Parkway in Charlottesville. A team of six worked on a number of tree species having different growth habits and pruning needs. Tree Stewards assist Parks staff with pruning across the Charlottesville and Albemarle County areas – an important part of meeting our mission to support urban and rural forests. Winter is a good time to prune, since with the leaves off, it is easier to see the tree’s structure and make decisions about how pruning can improve the health and well being of the tree. Training on how to prune is available to the public at a free class at the Northside Library in Charlottesville on January 25th from 10:00 until noon. Visit our calendar to register for the session. The class will be followed by a field trip to put the principles covered in the class into practice on Saturday, February 12 from 10:00-noon (more details on this field trip will be provided at the class.) Come join us!

A Walk Through Living History at Highland

On December 6, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards completed this year’s series of tree walks with a tour of the grounds of James Monroe’s Highland. Sharon Hiner, who is both a Tree Steward and an interpreter at Monroe’s Albemarle County home, blended the historical with the botanical as she led participants around the property.

Along the route, she pointed out ways to identify some of the stunning specimens on the site, from a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) – rare in our area – to one of the estate’s signature white ashes (Fraxinus americana). Highland was known as Ash Lawn through much of its post-Monroe era.  In this winter walk, Sharon concentrated on the structure of the trees, as well as bark, buds, nuts, and cones for identification clues.

Other highlights of the walk included a three-centuries-old white oak (Quercus alba) that was already a mature tree when Monroe purchased Highland in 1793, as well as an eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) that also dates back to the Monroe era. The tour concluded with the opportunity to identify a “mystery tree.”

Sharon will reprise the 90-minute Highland walk in April and November 2020.  Other walks scheduled for 2020 will be held at McIntire Park, Pen Park, and Darden Towe Park. The tree walks are free and open to the public, but they are limited to 25 participants and registration is required. Please visit our classes and walks webpage to learn more.