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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Leaves in Absence? How to ID Trees in Winter

March 5, 2014

This story originally appeared on the CFAES website

CHARDON, Ohio -- The trees in Chardon’s Big Creek Park will still be bare at the end of March. And that’s good.

Part of northeast Ohio’s Geauga Park District, the park is hosting a Winter Tree ID workshop March 28. The program will focus on bark, fruit, twigs and other telltale traits.

“This is an advanced class for individuals who are familiar with using a dichotomous key,” said Kathy Smith, one of the instructors and a forestry specialist with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. “Identifying trees without leaves can be a real challenge.”

But it’s worth it, she said. Telling trees apart in the cold can help a landowner plan for spring. Work such as planting, pruning and thinning, for example, depends on knowing exactly what’s growing.

A dichotomous key, also called a single-access key, helps a user pinpoint a species through a series of a step-by-step choices and a narrowing-down process.

The workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the park’s Donald W. Meyer Center, 9160 Robinson Road, in Chardon.

The agenda includes basic identification clues, practice on samples, using a tree ID guide, and practice outside on trees in the park if weather and time allow.

Registration costs $35 person. Participants can register online at The registration deadline is March 21.

For more information, call 614-688-3421 or email

The workshop brochure, which includes a registration form, can be downloaded at

The workshop’s sponsor is the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, which Smith leads. The program is part of the college’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and is carried out by Ohio State University Extension, the college’s statewide outreach arm.

The workshop qualifies for four credit hours for landowners participating in the Ohio Forest Tax Law program.

Written by Kurt Knebusch; source material from Kathy Smith