On my list of 33 things I’d like to accomplish in the next 3 years, item #22 is to learn to identify 10 trees. I have a fond memory of hunting down trees with my grandfather for my 5th grade leaf project (ahem). This was my grandfather’s element, he could identify them by sight. He passed away many years ago, and I added this goal in honor of him.
I think this leaf project might be easier this time around, as I live a mile from Spring Grove Arboretum. I walk there 3-5 days per week. It’s at Spring Grove that I learned about Champion Trees; Spring Grove is home to 5 of Ohio’s celebrated specimens from the National Register of Big Trees. (Bad. Ass. Register.)
This morning on my walk I decided to start my tree identification project with the first Champion I came across, which happened to be the dawn redwood. That wasn’t a name I’d expected to read in an Ohio park, but they are in fact related to the humongous sequoias and redwoods that come to mind. The dawn redwood is actually native to China, and critically endangered in the wild. It was once considered extinct. There is a special preserve in North Carolina dedicated to this specific tree, which is slated to open to the public in 2035. Mark your calendars.
Where was Wikipedia when I was in 5th grade? This project is going to be enthralling (to me), I can already tell. I’ll have to keep working on the identification piece of the goal… knowing a few facts about the dawn redwood is nice, but the aim is to be able to identify one that isn’t wearing a name tag.