Birch Trees, Poplar Trees

14 Feb

Ohh, how GOOD it feels to sit down! For some reason my knee hurt more today – don’t know if it’s the weather (cloudy, gloomy) or some other causes, but the same walk took me longer because I was seriously gimping some of the time. But I did the full 1.8 mile walk; contemplating the next stretch, which will start me up the big hill. Maybe a few more days of the 1.8. And the new boots felt just great along with the new relatively inexpensive trekking poles. It’s all good.

Twice last year somebody asked me how to tell a birch from a poplar, especially if you can’t get close enough to see the bark. I’ve known I could tell, but I never tried to pin it down, so today I just tried to pay attention. The first thing I noticed was that the twigs of birch don’t turn white until they are larger in diameter, so that the tree always looks spare until you see the darkish twigs on the ends of the branches. So the popples are pretty much all the same color but not the birches. There are more than one species of both, and I noticed some of the poplars are more greenish than others and that the birches are always whiter than the whitest popple.

The other thing was that the birches always grow upwards rather than sideways. There are degrees of this of course – all branches grow upwards, but the birches are more that way and make a tighter V. So I walked along picking out the occasional birch from a sea of poplars and was surprised how many I could find that I hadn’t noticed before.

Oh, and I saw three enormous bird tracks, which look just like the picture in my tracks book of eagle tracks. Lots of eagles down by the river, but it was neat to notice their tracks.


2 Responses to “Birch Trees, Poplar Trees”

  1. david 02/15/2012 at 1:19 pm #

    When I studied forestry in Chicago we looked at the placement of the leaves and branches. Were they even with each other on both sides of the tree or alternate?

  2. mandosaturn 02/15/2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I’ll have to look next time. The Poplars I can see out the window appear to be alternate but they’re pretty far away. Recognizing trees in the winter is a different art form too. Now I need to learn how to tell maples from basswoods in winter so I don’t tap any more basswoods waiting for sap.. the only birch near me is tiny…

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