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Trees And Tree Blindness Pre-Thoughts

To begin with the article Tree Blindness by Gabriel Popkin there are a few conflicts from my own lived experience. Where in my experience of rural Pickaway county where there were Boy Scouts of America and other groups that taught about it as well as my family has those who dabble in naturalist hobbies. This isn’t everyone but, according to the opinion piece, it even says that the groups he deals with are ‘highly educated’ which I will assume means college education which is less than half the American population which seems like a small group to say people at large are tree blind. I would contest to say that it is more of a genus-level knowledge for most but, species and the edibility of fruits and seeds from trees in our environment. My closing on this opinion piece is that all people do not understand the specifics of the trees all around us. But, there is a reason to understand the concern over the wasted ability to utilize our natural environment as well as how to preserve our natural environment and its diversity if most don’t know about its diversity and uses.

Location 1: Tree Line Left After Farm and Subdivision Development 39.706931, -82.999674

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

I found this tree in my neighborhood in a tree line left over from the destroyed forest cleared for houses and farmland. The original habitat does not seem to be preserved but, there are many mature trees and saplings growing from the treeline. The telling features of this tree were the leaves being dark green on the top and light green on the bottom opposite leaves with entire margins with a pointed tip. The leaves are also simple. The most interesting thing I learned about the Amur Honeysuckle, from ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources),  was that it was only introduced to Ohio back in the 1950s.

Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

This tree was found with the Amur Honeysuckle in the tree line and part of the same tree line habitat that is a mostly destroyed grassland/forest. The telling features of the Common Hackberry were the leaves with their rough texture, asymmetry, and serrated margins. Additionally, the leaves are simple. Information on interesting uses in history, from Ariel Foundation Park, were majorly used by Native Americans namely the Dakota had hackberry fruit as meat flavoring.


Location 2: Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

*All trees found along the Cobshell Trail of the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. The general habitat of the area is a forest*

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

The main identifiers of this tree are the large star-shaped lobed leaves and the spiky ‘gumball’ fruits it bears. According to Yale Nature Walk, it got its name from Native American use of the resin on the inside of the bark as a thing to chew on like gum.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

The leaf of this tree is very telling being alternately arranged, broad and heart-shaped. Their coloring is dark green. An interesting fact is that although being names Cercis canadensis while not being found in Canada according to ODNR.

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Leaves again betray this tree’s ID with the five-pointed lobes with the top of the leaf being dark green and the underside being a lighter green. A fun fact I have known for ages is that the Sugar Maple leaf is the exact species on the Canadian flag.

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

White ash differentiates itself from other Ash trees by having a round stem and the leaflets of the leaf having clearly stalked leaflets on its odd-pinnate compound leaves. Interesting sports information, from The Louisville Slugger Museum, is that half of the pro baseball bats are White Ash!

Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium)

This tree’s leaves ID it easily. It has simple leaves that are oppositely arranged and have serrulate margins. Another clue that gives these leaves as the Blackhaw is the red-ish leaf stalks. The UK (University of Kentucky) College of Agriculture, Food and Environment had a fun fact that they taste like prunes and that is where the scientific name of prunifolium comes from.

White Oak (Quercus alba)

Finally the White Oak ID leaves again assist. The leaves are narrow at the base of the leaf and broaden towards the tip of the leaf showing obovate. It is also alternately arranged with each leaf having lobes with no sharp points ruling out Red Oak and Black Oak leaving it as White Oak. The ODNR named the White Oak one of the most important hardwoods.


Reflection on Tree Blindness

Tree Blindness is hard for me to say changes too much. I have always been into the natural world and knew at the minimum from experience in scout groups, family members who dabble in naturalist ways and my personal enjoyment of learning fun facts to spout (Now to teach my future students). My parents had taught me about fruit-bearing trees and what was safe and what wasn’t. But, my blindness was probably more like nearsightedness and probably due to the time it’s been since I have had to remember that information and expand on it. That’s what made this experience so eye-opening to me as I could recognize many genera but, to even say any information about these trees let alone their species other than the Sweetgum and Sugar Maple trees since they are very recognizable species to most Ohioans in my experience. I chose my local treeline first to see what the diversity was and it was minimal which is expected. I next decided Battelle Darby Metro Park would have great diversity having to catch up for a class while the class walked I found so many other species of just trees that were not included in all the species of the class really showing how diverse our local ecosystems are! I have little knowledge of trees is in the gymnosperms other than my favorite gymnosperm Ginko bilboa also known just as the Ginkgo Tree since it is the last surviving member. Tree blindness is not helpful for people who don’t understand where what we use come from losing the care for it leading to rampant deforestation and poor preservation practices all around. Learning how to differentiate species was easier than expected with so many species differentiating from their relatives fairly strongly in more than one way. Not to mention the knowledge of which species opens up so much more information to be learned as well as being more specific!