Friday, December 20, 2013

The Shape of a Tree

When the last leaf has blown away and the trees are left bare - that's when you can see the true shape of a tree. Each kind of tree has its own shape and pattern of branching. Some have branches that alternate up the trunk, like oaks. Others have branches that come off the trunk in pairs - "opposite" branches. That's what maples do. Some trees have weepy droopy branches, like the willows. And others, like Staghorn sumac, are tipped with fruit clusters that the birds love to eat in the winter.

The shape of the tree is its "skeleton", with the trunk and branches making up its bones. Some of those bones are white, some are dark. Some are smooth, some rough.

Grab your sketchbook or journal and go on a tree skeleton hike. Draw the structures of your neighborhood trees - and maybe do a rubbing of the bark. It's a good way to get to know the trees without their leaves on.

Today is STEM Friday - head over to the STEM Friday blog to see what other people are talking about in science, technology, engineering and math.

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