Adult Opportunities

Winter Tree Identification (online and in person)

Learn to identify trees after they have shed their leaves for the winter.

Content Detail

Develop the skills to identify winter trees using clues found in buds, fruits, leaf scars, bark, and branching patterns. Leaves are one of the first characteristics taught when identifying trees. By learning to use other parts of the tree for identification, participants can develop the skill to identify trees even in winter when leaves are gone.

The class begins with a self-paced online lesson, where you will learn the foundational skills and terminology related to identifying deciduous trees. Then come to The Morton Arboretum for the field session, when you will develop and hone your tree ID skills with the guidance of the instructor. As you walk the grounds of the Arboretum, you will work with other participants to practice identifying trees using the skills you learned online.

This program includes self-paced online components and an in-person session.

Instructor: Kim Shearer, curator of collections and manager of new plant development, The Morton Arboretum

Continuing Education: This class fulfills a plant identification requirement for the Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program. Learn more about N-ACT.

Age: 16 and older

Course number: N100

Kim Shearer, curator of collections and manager of new plant development, The Morton Arboretum

Kim Shearer is curator of collections and the manager of new plant development for The Morton Arboretum’s Daniel P. Haerther Charitable Trust New Plant Development Program. She came to the Arboretum after completing her master’s degree in horticulture with a focus in plant breeding and genetics at Oregon State University. Her experience and education has been primarily focused on the propagation, development, and evaluation of tree and shrub species from around the world. In addition to overseeing the Arboretum’s collection, she also manages the New Plant Development lab, engages audiences around the country to promote trees and shrubs through the Chicagoland Grows® Plant Introduction Program, and works closely with academics and the nursery industry in the evaluation of tree and shrub selections.

What to Know

This program includes an online component you will complete on your own, and one scheduled in-person field session.

Please provide a unique email address for each registrant at registration.

Registrants will receive an email with instructions on how to access Treelearning, the Arboretum’s online learning portal about one week before class. Access lasts for 60 days.

Complete the online components before the in-person session. It should take about 60 minutes. The self-paced activities do not need to be completed in one sitting. Your instructor will not be online with you.

The in-person session will be held mostly outdoors. Plan to stand for long periods and walk on uneven ground. Please dress for the weather during the in-person session, with long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy footwear.

Bring water, a snack, and materials for taking notes in the field.

Recommended: Bring a copy of the Winter Tree Finder, by May T. Watts and Tom Watts, available in The Arboretum Store or from your favorite online retailers.

N-ACT Certification: This class fills a plant identification requirement for N-ACT participants. Learn more about the N-ACT program.

Program Schedule

Section B

Thursday, February 1, 2024, noon: Access self-paced online components.
Friday, February 9, 2024, noon to 4:00 p.m.: Attend on-site field session.

Section C

Friday, February 2, 2024, noon: Access self-paced online components.
Saturday, February 10, 2024, noon to 4:00 p.m.: Attend on-site field session.


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