Taking Photos of Trees for Expert Identification and Urban Forest Inventories
Extension personnel often receive questions regarding identification of a particular tree. Digital photography, email, and text messaging make submitting specimens for identification very quick and easy.
- Take close-up, clear photos of the specimen with a digital camera. Please consider the following:
- Select a specimen that shows as many distinguishing characteristics of a species as possible. These would include leaves, twigs, flowers, fruit, bark, form, and position in the landscape.
- If there is dramatic variation in leaf shape on a single plant, include photographs of all leaf shapes (Figure 1).
- Unique characteristics are particularly important to include, such as thorns, twigs and branching patterns, or fruits and nuts (Figure 2).
- Include a photograph that shows the characteristics of the bark (Figure 3).
- Make note of the type of site on which the tree is growing (wet, dry, flooded, etc.)
- Finally, send a photograph of the tree in the landscape to show its form (Figure 4).
- If necessary, crop photos to reduce their size or use a medium-quality setting.
- When sending your photographs to Extension personnel, include your contact information and any description you would like to provide about the plant, such as its size, history, or habitat. If you like, you may use the Tree Identification Request Form on the back. Send photographs via email to your urban forest inventory facilitator/coordinator/team leader, or regional Extension Forestry Specialist.
Tree Identification Request Form
Specimen includes: leaves/twigs/fruit/stem/other
Plant origin: naturally occurring/planted/unknown
Plant size (approx.): height/diameter (at breast height)
Form: single stem/multi-stem
Publication 3678 (POD-09-22)
Revised by Brady Self, Associate Extension Professor, Forestry, from an earlier version by Jason S. Gordon, former Associate Extension Professor.
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