Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tree Identification Workshop sponsored by the Friends of Gatineau Park

Attended this workshop which took place at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre, 33 Scott. Rd. Chelsea Quebec. This park is located north of the City of Ottawa and took a little more than an hours drive to get there from here. Since moving to Kars I have spent very little time in the Gatineaus but while living in Ottawa it was quite popular for our family. There are many excellent and well maintained cross-country ski trails there. The International Gatineau 55 Cross Country Ski Race event used to be held there.

The Tree identification workshop was a full day from 930 to 1630. Like all events it is the few little gems of information that make these events worthwhile. The level of the workshop was a basic introduction or Tree identification 101, but it is good since it gets one organised in understanding the methods of identification. We spent some time understanding the use of Keys for identification. We learnt about terminology for identifying leaves, names for leaf shapes and terms for parts of the leaves. I was particularly interested in easily distinguishing the types of ashes that we have on our woodlot. There are white, black and green ash that are common around here. I learnt that black ash is the only ash that has no stalks on the leaflets. That was a start for me anyway.

A simple trick to help in tree identification is the MAD-VE Rule. MAD-VE stands for Maple, Ash, Dogwood, Viburnum (- not Virbinum, sorry), Elderberry. These are the only trees that have opposite leaves, stems and buds. All other trees are alternate.

Another gem, the leaf of the slippery elm has a sand papery texture, whereas the leaf of the American Elm is smooth.

We also discussed tree silhouettes and much more. It was a good introductory course.

In the afternoon we did a field trip and went through a few tree identification exercises. What struck me was although this area is only about 40 km away from home the selection of trees have changed quite a bit. For example bur oaks which are common in Kars are just not heard of in these parts of Gatineau Park.

The field trip focused on identifying Basswood (American Linden), White Spruce, Slippery Elm, Tamarack (Eastern Larch), American Elm, Trembling Aspen, Paper Birch, and Red Oak.

Myself and two other classmates almost walked into a black bear sow and her cub, which added considerably to an already exciting day. We heard later for the park staff that a sow and cub have been relocated away from the area and that these two where likely the same pair that have returned.

To check out the many other events in Gatineau Park go to:

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