Monday, December 8, 2008

Tree study going strong

The tree study is going well so far. Today, Alex looked up what type of trees we had in our old neighborhood in the Arbor Association book, and then I had him go out and figure out what kinds of trees we have in our new neighborhood. His best guess was a White Oak. But the book had white oaks only listed on the east side of the country. I had him look closely at the details: 'grow in stands' (place with a lot of the same tree variety) and between our neighbors and us there were 26 that he could see from our front yard. That sounds like a stand to me. 'Has a leaf with rounded lobes and has a rounded crown of branches.' Check, and check. But still... we are not in the middle east part of the US. So I had him check the placement on the map, just to make sure it didn't include somewhere close to us.

Above, he is mapping where the book said the White Oaks were most prevalent, he took string and mapped from each place they said. The book says that they only grow from 'west Missouri, to Maine, to Florida, and then back to Texas." We are in Washington. Not anywhere near there. We were stumped... we definitely have some type of White Oak in our backyard. So we asked the almighty Google for help. Sure enough, we found this in short order:

As far as we can tell, the differences are in the leaves. White Oaks have 5 - 9 lobes, most of the time having more than 7. Garry Oaks have 5 - 7 lobes, numbering in the lower numbers more often. There is also a slight difference in stature. Our oaks are smaller.


We also looked at bark from our Tree Ring Discovery Kit. We figured out how old the red oak was that we had the rounds from, and then identified all of the different pieces of the trunk (heartwood, sapwood, cambium and inner/outer bark layers).

After that, we saw a new bird in our yard... a spotted Towhee... and the lesson moved on. Cyan drawing what she saw out the window, Alex looking up birds and listening to the sounds they make in his bird book. There is a lot of nature in this little yard. Here are pictures from the ten minutes after the lesson before Logan drug me away for an episode of Blue's Clues.

This is a busy little yard. :)

And let me introduce you to the squirrel we have so aptly named "Spider Squirrel" or "Spidy" for short.

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