Trees form some of the most beautiful and useful parts of our environment. If you love nature, then you agree that trees equal life. Not only do trees make the environment breathtaking and fascinating, but they’re also quite crucial for our survival on Earth.
Trees offer way more than just adding a glamorous look to Mother Nature. We need trees to prevent, eliminate, and reduce the effects of climate change. Trees also provide food and medicine, economic opportunities, clean the air, and help to prevent soil and water pollution. All these are a few benefits that the inhabitants of the Earth reap from trees.
It is thus quite essential for all outdoor lovers to learn a few tricks here and there on how to identify trees quickly. This could prove quite complicated and strenuous at first, but you can learn with time. It is crucial, especially for survival purposes or just a new hobby you can pick up to spice up your outdoor activities.
Here is a list of a few trees that can easily be identified and can be quite useful for food, medicine or just for firewood.
1. ASH TREE
Ash trees are mostly found in Europe, North America, and Asia. These trees are predominantly deciduous with a few evergreen species. There are close to fifty or more of ash tree species across the globe.
Ash trees have tall and straight stems, making them excellent lumber and timber producers for furniture and many other objects made from wood. Ash trees are opposite branching and have leaves that look like hickory leaves – many long and narrow leaves with serrated edges that grow on the same stalk.
Important to note
Ash trees are a great source of firewood. These trees can quickly get you that campfire you need for warming or to cook that camp dinner.
Ash trees are on the brink of extinction due to the unforgiving effect of the emerald ash borer beetle. Make time to see and take photos of these trees before they become history like the dodo.
2. MAPLE TREE
There are more than one hundred different species and subspecies of the maple tree. The maple tree is found in the Northern hemisphere and Asia. Asia has some of the most diverse forms of species of this tree.
The maple tree is easily identified by its characteristics leaves and the opposite branching of the leaves and branches. The maple leaves have a palmate vein structure with an edge that has a mixture of large and small teeth. The maple leaf is what you see on the Canadian flag.
The maple tree also has spectacular red and yellow coloration during the autumn.
Important to note
The maple tree is a good source of wood that can be used as firewood for campers or to make bows and other campfire kits. The tree provides edible seeds that can be boiled just like regular beans. The maple tree sap is drinkable, which is a life hack for campers and other outdoor lovers. The sap can be boiled and used to make sweet maple syrup.
3. OAK TREE
Oak trees are all-in-one survival kits; they can give you food, some wood for shelter and firewood, medicine and a lot more. There are over 600 species of oak trees across the globe, mostly in cold climates and some warm tropical areas.
Oak trees have the classic-looking acorn, which are the nut fruits of the oak tree. The acorn is a nut that is contained in a cupule, which is a cup-like structure.
Important to note
The oak tree can be used to produce medicinal liquid by either boiling the bark of the tree or bathing the acorn in warm water for an hour. This liquid can heal rashes, reduce inflammation, and heal other skin conditions.
The acorn is also edible aside from a little bitterness that can be removed quickly by crushing the nut and washing it several times in warm water – one hour each time. However, be cautious as the acorn may cause nausea and digestive distress if not well-prepared.
Pine trees are some of the common trees because they can be found almost anywhere around the globe. Their characteristics features make them easily identifiable.
Identifying features: They have needles that grow in two-five clusters. A most noticeable feature of these pine trees is their pine cones.
Important to note: Pinewood can be used to make waterproof glue, provide firewood, and the pine nuts are also edible.
5. BLACK WALNUT
Black walnut trees are mostly found in the Northern American continent, especially in the lower 48 states.
Identifying features: These trees are tall and woody. They have round nuts that look like green tennis balls when they are fresh, and they’re edible. The tree has alternate compound leaves.
Important to note: These trees have nuts that are edible and when boiled, the husk provides a great medicinal liquid.
These are trees that many outdoor lovers should be well conversant with. Willow trees are found in The Northern hemisphere, especially in the temperature regions with cold temperatures.
Identifiable features: These trees have flexible shoots and twigs. Their leaves are slender with toothed edges.
Important to note: The willow tree is an excellent tree to have in your knowledge books as it can provide pain-relieving medicine and firewood.
Looking for trees that can help you provide fire by use of friction and that have seeds that are good for tinder? Cottonwood is the answer.
Identifiable features: The cottonwood trees have very distinct leaves that are usually circular or triangular with very long stalks.
Important to note: These trees are used to provide quick-burning firewood and tannic acid used to tan leather.
Hickory trees are found in the Northern American continent, Asia, Mexico, and Canada.
Identifiable features: The trees are hardwoods with alternate compound leaves. Hickory nuts have double-layered nutshells.
Important to note: Hickory nuts are edible and can provide close to 193 dietary calories. The nuts can be eaten raw, making it a quick meal for someone in need.
Found predominantly in the northern half of the North American continent.
Identifiable features: Birch bark is quite distinct with its grey to bright white color and often peels off, forming papery strips. The birch tree has simple, alternate leaves that have small teeth serrated edges.
Important to note: The paper-like birch bark can be used to start fires, even when it is soaking wet. Birch bark can be used to make sweet tea and medicine. The sap of the birch tree is drinkable and can be used to make syrup.
Probably, you’ve only read of this tree in the Bible and would not know its tail from its head; here is how you can tell that you see one:
Identifiable features: These trees can grow up to 100 feet tall. They have smooth bark with patches of color like tan, white, green, and grey. The leaves look like the maple tree, except that in the sycamore tree, we have alternating leaves and branches.
Important to note: Sycamore trees provide good firewood and also have drinkable sap.
Cedar trees grow mostly on the Northern American continent.
Identifiable features: Cedars have a conical shape, commonly termed as the Christmas tree shape. The cedar leaves are scaly and branching.
Important to note: Most parts of the cedar tree are a good source of firewood and provide excellent material for friction fire or kindling. The berries of these trees are at times used as spices.
This is one of the most common and essential good to know survival staples.
Identifiable features: These trees have alternate, simple leaves with small serrated edges. The bark of these trees is quite smooth and light grey, which is one of the main elements used to identify this tree.
Important to note: The nuts of the beech tree are entirely edible and have very high calorific value.
The mulberry tree is known for its blackberries and can be a lifeline for anyone in a survival state.
Identifiable features: The trees have saw-like serrated leaves that alternate and are branching. The leaves also have a characteristic fuzzy texture.
Important to note: The berries of the mulberry tree can be eaten raw when ripe, cooked or dried.
It’s a pleasant surprise that the pawpaw tree is a native of the Northern continent.
Identifiable features: Large alternate, simple leaves, and fruits that look and taste like bananas with a touch of mango flavor. The fruits have brown seeds.
Important to note: The fruits of the pawpaw tree are entirely edible. The fruits are quite nutritious with every bite – providing up to 80 calories for every cup together with vitamin C and potassium.
15. BLACK LOCUST
These trees can be found almost anywhere around the world.
Identifiable features: A tree that has alternate compound leaves with paired thorns on the twines. The bright-colored and sweet-scented flowers are also a characteristic feature of black locust trees.
Important to note: The sweetly scented flowers of the black locust tree can be used to make homemade wine. This tree also makes excellent firewood. A caution though; the firewood can produce some toxic fumes.