Tree knowledge

We learned everything we need to know about trees in kindergarten……………right?  Not really.

I was amused watching a Jeopardy show a couple weeks ago.  Normally I’m very impressed at the vast knowledge of these contestants and it’s fun when I get something right.  But this time they had the category……….”Trees”.  Wow, I thought, a topic I could do well at.  Don’t you know that of all the topics on the board, these genius contestants picked the tree category  last ??!!  And as I recall they missed most of the questions.  Not only that, but even the show judges made a technical error in one of the answers when they confused the common name of “cedars” with the botanical name “cedrus”.  This is a common mistake since many plants are referred to as “cedars” but there are only a few members of the genus “Cedrus”.

It’s kind of like when folks refer to all needled trees as “evergreens” or “pines”.  When someone tells me they want to buy a “pine tree” and they are looking for a spruce, that’s an important detail for me.  The “evergreens” could be pines, spruce or fir in this area.  Of course “evergreen” could also include the shrubs such as juniper and taxus.  And then there are evergreen shrubs that could grow into large trees or the “broadleaved evergreens” such as boxwood or holly.  Did you know that the ginkgo tree is more closely related to pines than they are to the broadleaved deciduous trees, like maple and oak?  And there are cone bearing trees closely related to pine and spruce that drop their needles in winter, such as larch, bald cypress and dawn redwood making them “deciduous evergreens” or more properly………..”deciduous conifers” (cone bearing).  Of course “bald cypress” is not a true cypress but I’ll bet you knew that ”.    It seems with many topics, when you know a little you assume a lot.  Actually, it seems the more you learn about a topic, the more you realize there is to know!  I’m still working on learning about trees.  I’ll probably never be an expert.

But seriously, I hope you had a great holiday season, survived the arctic vortex and can enjoy the rest of the “quiet season”.