Barking Up the Right Tree

The Pass Lake Forest, 
Deception Pass State Park

There's going to be a quiz, so don't whine that you weren't ready for that when it happens.  ;-)

For me, hiking is only 50% getting outdoors and exercising.  The other half is discovering what's out there, trying to learn something about it, then sharing what I learned through blogging.  This started when I was about 7 years old.  I spent many hours exploring the woods and ponds in the neighborhood where I grew up.  I never lost this fascination for nature.

Identifying the trees in a forest is one of the things I like to do.  The usual ID method is by looking at the leaves or needles.  In a mature forest, however, they may be up so high, they can't be seen well enough to distinguish.  Sometimes, the tree tops are totally hidden in the canopy.  The trunks and their bark might be all that is visible.  This makes it necessary to learn to identify trees using only their bark.

The following six photos show the bark of trees common in this area.  See if you can identify any or all of these trees.  Email me the answers rather than posting them in the comments.  I will reveal the ID's in a future post.  This is meant to be a fun exercise and to help learn how to see the forest for the trees, as they say.




Here are some hints to help ID the trees:
  1. All the trees are native to the Pacific Northwest coastal ecosystem.  This is a strip that runs from southeast Alaska to roughly Cape Mendocino, California.  All of these photos were taken in the Hoypus Point Natural Forest at Deception Pass State Park.
  2. One of the trees doesn't fit with the other five in the group.  There is extra credit for identifying this difference.  (It's just like the S.A.T.'s)
  3. Number 2 and number 3 can be tricky to distinguish.  Number 2 tends to have strips in longer runs and deeper grooves.  Number 3 has a patchier look.
  4. The important characteristic of number 4 is a shingled look to the bark.
  5. All six trees have commercial value in the Pacific Northwest.
  6. One is the Oregon state tree, one is the Washington state tree, one is the Alaska state tree, and one is the British Columbia official tree.
Identify all six trees and you'll be ready for a hike in the woods.  Good luck.

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