5 Trees You Can Spot on a Winter Hike
There’s more to the outdoors in winter than cloudy skies and cold temperatures. Take a winter hike! Next time you bundle up to hit the trails, take a look at the nature around you. See if you can spy these five trees that show off some of the best features of their bark during winter.
Common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) is as the name says, a very common tree, and is easily identified by its thick and narrow ridges. In the close-up photo, you can see the layering on the tree bark. I call it the Grand Canyon tree.
Another common tree, black walnuts (Juglans nigra) feature deep furrows in the bark. Take a closer look, and you will see a beautiful chocolate-brown coloring under the tree bark.
American elm (Ulmus Americana) trees are identified by their squishy feel and “ice cream sandwich” bark. When you peel the bark off, you can see the alternating light and dark layers, just like the colors of an ice cream sandwich. (Not a yummy treat though!)
Pin oaks (Quercus palustris) are easily identified by their dead lower branches. Most tree species self-prune as they grow, but pin oaks do not. I’ve also noticed the lower branches arch toward the ground, while the live upper branches arch up, giving the tree a very distinct shape.
The honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) can easily be identified with its ominous three-pronged thorns. While on your winter hike, look closely at a honey locust. The thorns only grow on the trunk and begin at 5 feet up from the base of the tree. Why? Evidently, the reason the honey locust’s thorn clusters grow so haphazardly is because they deterred mastodons.
Nature Interpreter, Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve