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TBG Dallas participates in winter tree identification hike

Ross Devault

TBG Dallas recently took a trip to Oak Cliff Nature Preserve for a winter tree identification hike. Spearheading the group was certified Texas Master Naturalist, Bob Richie. Bob is additionally the past president of The Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association — Dallas’s local honeybee club.

So what did the TBGers learn? First of all, that tree identification relies heavily on the tree’s form. This means the tree’s general shape, habit, and size. More specifically this refers to the tree’s bark texture and size, presence of fruit or nuts, spatial relationship to drainage patterns, branching structure, and relationship to nearby trees.

The environment and trees of course play a role in landscape architecture, and TBG is proud to have a handful of certified arborists within the firm. Being educated on tree identification furthers our ability to make informed decisions as landscape architects and to protect and respect earth’s system of natural resources. In the words of Associate Ross DeVault,

“The more that we as designers are in touch with the native plants, soils, and natural systems of the contexts in which we practice, the more that we can leverage the wide-ranging social, economic, and environmental benefits of those systems to deliver high quality, memorable places.”

At one point leader Bob Richie took a moment to remind the gang of their responsibility as people, not just designers, to honor all parts of nature and not only the “more desirable” elements. For his example he used a hackberry tree, which is not as showy as the oaks and crape myrtles we are used to seeing, and often disregarded. However, the hackberry tree is an important part of the natural succession process. They provide key habitat and food sources for our native birds and mammals, according to an article by Duke Forest and further demonstrated by Bob.

So what did the group discover? They identified cottonwood, elm, live oak, Hercules club, red oak, pecan, bois-d’arc, hackberry, and sumac trees! Overall, the excursion made for a fun and informative event; and we are better designers because of it.