Tree ID: a useful skill

Tree ID is a useful skill in more than one way.

The obvious one being of course is when working on trees to have a rough idea of what you are dealing with, the specific strengths and weaknesses of the species you are working on, what type of pathogens you are likely to encounter and what effect they have on the stability of the tree – to name but a few.

But the other day I came across another reason that it can be helpful to tell different species apart:

I was walking down the street with our youngest daughter when she points to a conifer and asks me whether I knew that the shoots of that tree are edible? My response was slightly incredulous as I was under the impression that almost all parts of the Yew tree are poisonous to a greater or lesser degree (they are)…

No, no, she says, I saw it on a kid’s program on TV: the young shoots of a Spruce are edible. I used to eat quite a lot of this stuff when I was small, she said.

Aaaaah, right. I see where the misunderstanding may lie…

So for the record, Nevena, this is a Yew:

And this is a Spruce:

Do NOT eat Yew, it is not good for you and is likely to give you a seriously crummy tummy. Spruce? Whatever. Maybe you can deep fry it, they certainly would in Scotland.

Anyway, the good news is she was nine when she was eating Yew shoots, she has survived to fifteen, so fingers crossed, she seems to have survived ok.

So as I was saying, bring on the tree ID skills…