Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tree and Forest Websites: An Annotated Guide

Introduction to 2012 edition

The following list of websites was created in 2008 and revised and expanded in February, 2012.   My hope is to update it each year, since the Internet is constantly evolving.   New websites are created, while old ones are constantly updated, revised, or abandoned.  I went through all the websites to check that links still worked in 2012, and deleted non-working sites, as well as changed addresses for sites that had been moved or restructured.  In addition, several new sections were added--one on identification of trees in especially difficult genera; one on Virginia forests, and one on forest education and advocacy organizations.   Hopefully this annotated list provides a handy guide for users, deepening their understanding and appreciation of forests and trees.  If you enjoy trees and have some spare moments to explore the sites listed,  I believe you’ll find many of them intriguing and rewarding.

The list represents a culling from hundreds of sites that might have been selected.  The three most important criteria for inclusion were: 1) usefulness for a variety of potential users, including naturalists, teachers and students at many levels; people seeking information on organizations active in forest protection; and members of the general public; 2) relevance to Virginia residents in particular, although I’ve felt comfortable going farther afield, since most species of trees and shrubs have a fairly wide range of distribution; and 3) coverage of a variety of topics, starting with identification and “branching out” to the other topics listed below under “Contents.”

Note that some sites appear under more than one heading; for example, the “Key to Leaves of Virginia Trees” entry appears in both the Tree ID section and in the Virginia Forests section.  Rather than send people back and forth, I have usually simply repeated the same information each time a site is listed.

The descriptions and judgments of the sites are my own.   I have tried to be as fair as possible in my descriptions and evaluations, but doubtless I have many blind spots.  Your comments on the accuracy and usefulness of different entries are welcome; as I mentioned earlier, sites undergo changes that may make what I had to say inaccurate or irrelevant.  As of February, 2012, all sites listed were up and running; if you find a site is no longer available, I would appreciate your letting me know.  I would also welcome suggestions for additional sites that might be worthwhile inclusions in the next edition of the list.  

Tony Russell ~ taorivertony@gmail.com

Skyline Drive
October 25, 2011


  1. Tree Identification
  2. Tree Identification: Various Genera
  3. Winter Tree Identification
  4. Tree Photo Sites
  5. Invasive Trees
  6. Riparian Forestry
  7. Urban Forestry
  8. Tree Health
  9. American Chestnut Recovery
  10. Comprehensive Forestry
  11. Virginia Forests
  12. Forest Education and Advocacy Organizations
  13. Miscellaneous

Tree Sites

A. Tree Identification

1.  Dendrology at Virginia Tech (http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/main.htm )
This is THE site for tree identification in Virginia, built around keys to tree identification and then fact sheets for a large number of species.  Each tree species has a page, with text and photos devoted to leaf, flower, fruit, twig, bark, and form.  The consistency and detail with which these six factors are applied throughout the entire site are the great strength of the VT project, and the descriptions are among the most useful and accurate I've seen.  The photos are also well done.  Though they are fairly small, you can click on each one to bring up a larger version.

 The http address takes you to the homepage.  To access keys, click “Tools” at the top and then “ID Keys” in the drop-down menu.  This takes you to both dichotomous keys (a leaf key and a twig key) and a multichotomous key.  Then, to access information on the tree, once you have identified it, click on “Fact Sheets” at the top of the homepage.  That will take you to a starting point where you can search the database for all or some part of a name (common or scientific).  

One minor quibble: the dichotomous key only narrows the possibilities to a group of species; it doesn’t normally lead you to a single species as an answer.

Created at Penn State, this is a fine tool intended to teach the key elements in leaf terminology.  It makes an excellent preliminary unit before moving on to tree and shrub identification using leaves.  The language and illustrations are simple and easy to understand; in addition, to check on understanding, each section ends by going to a Test Pilot for practice.  Sections provided include leaf structure, leaf blade shape, leaf grouping, leaf arrangement and venation, and leaf margins.  Highly recommended.

3.  Key to Leaves of Virginia Trees (http://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/forsite/key/intro.htm)
Eye-catching visual design highlights this key, created by Dr. Jeff Kirwan and James Ward for use with a 4-H tree identification project.  Click on “I’ve got my leaf, let’s get started!” and you’re propelled into the most usable dichotomous key imaginable.  Each choice features photos, with key features pointed out, to help you make your choice, all on a stylish black background with luminous red and blue lettering.  If you can’t learn with this site....  Highest recommendation.

4.  Bioimages: Key to common trees of middle Tennessee (http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/tree-key.htm)
A superb dichotomous key with both gymnosperms and angiosperms.  The neat thing is that each step has both very brief written choices as well as photos of the choices; you can click on any of the photos to enlarge them.  Highly recommended.

5.  LEAF: Learning Experiences and Activities in Forestry (http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/leaf/Treekey/tkframe.htm)
A site offered by the Wisconsin K-12 Forestry Education Program, this too offers practice in using a dichotomous key.  The choices are framed as simply as possible, and like the Virginia site above, this one has photos to illustrate the choices.  The site explains what a dichotomous key is, contains simple instructions on its use, has twenty-seven mystery trees to match and identify, and offers a list of the twenty-seven tree species.  Click on a name, and you arrive at a fact sheet, replete with photos, about that species.  A nice site.  Not as stylish and technically sophisticated as the Virginia site, but simple and clear, with some interesting add-on features.

A very useful guide to tree identification put out by the Ohio State University Extension Service.  Contains a key to deciduous and evergreen trees of Ohio, with clear, simple drawings to illustrate different forms of leaves, leaf margins, leaf tips and bases, and leaf arrangements.  Also contains instructions on using the key to identify trees, with the instructions geared toward a novice.  One of the handiest features is that trees are grouped by genus, with every genus having its own page.  Then the text, photos, and illustrations show how to differentiate between the various species in the genus.  The site is laid out well and is user-friendly.

7.  UConn Plant Database of Trees, Shrubs, and Vines (http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/index.html)
An attractive, well-designed site (created by Mark Brand), highly recommended.  Plants can be searched for by Latin name, common name, or attributes. An  outstanding feature of this site is the quality and abundance of photos--there might be four or five photos of different trees to show the habit and form of the species, for example, or several photos to show variations in bark patterns.  Another is the range of information for each tree--habitat, habit and form, summer foliage, autumn foliage, flowers, fruit, bark, culture, landscape uses, liabilities, ID features, propagation, and cultivars/varieties.  Information under each of these headings is presented in a simple, user-friendly, bullet-point style.

 As a sidebar, another positive feature of this site is the photo gallery of “virtual plant walks” at five different universities in the area.

This is a tree identification tool from the UConn site.  Can be used with both wild specimens and cultivars.  A three-page dichotomous key with a very attractive layout---large type, with pairs of features in alternating pale salmon and pale olive color bands, so it is easy to move from one level to the next with a minimum of visual strain.  The steps are also presented in clear, simple language. Link to a glossary if needed.  Highly recommended!  

9.  What Tree Is That?   (http://www.treelink.org/whattree/index.htm)
Very nice online key to identifying tree species once leaves are on.  Offered by The National Arbor Day Foundation, and used by special permission to TreeLink.  Very user-friendly, with simple directions, and clear, well-written choices as one works through the process of making an identification. The site describes itself as “a guide to the more common trees found in the Eastern and Central U.S.,” but it enables the user to key out a much larger number of species than that description implies.  The site also contains an alphabetized index to the trees, merging common and scientific names, as well as a brief glossary, with terms explained in very short, straightforward language.  An excellent key for beginners, as well as those further along in learning trees.
10.  Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina (http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/index.html)
This site, compiled by Will Cook, attempts “a full list of the woody plants of north Carolina.”  It tells where each plant is found (mountains, piedmont, or coastal plain), and indicates whether the plant is common, uncommon, occasional, rare, or very rare. The site has separate sections for trees, shrubs, and woody vines, with over two hundred and twenty species of trees listed.  Click on the name of a species, and you arrive at a page devoted to that tree.  The pages are uncluttered, with good-quality photos of leaves, flowers, fruit, and bark.  The photo contents are inconsistent, however; pages for some species have photos for all the plant parts just mentioned, while other pages only have two or three photos.
The site also contains a summer key to common tree species (more than sixty species included), based on leaf characteristics.

 Since North Carolina contains topographical and climatic similarities to Virginia, this site is a significant resource for Virginians as well. 

An excellent site, copyrighted by Tim Rhodus, with separate sections devoted to trees, shrubs, grasses, vines, perennials, etc.  The tree section covers a variety of ornamentals and cultivars, as well as many native species in their natural form, so it provides a good supplement to those sites focused strictly on native species or invasives.  

 Material on the page for each species is presented in clear, non-technical prose, within a well-laid-out bulleted format.  The pages contain an abundance of information, including form, culture, foliage, flowers, fruits, twigs, trunk, ID summary, function, texture, assets, liabilities, habitat, alternative selections, and variants.

Another state’s university extension tree ID website.  This one features an interactive dichotomous key for summer identification, and is dependent on sketches and photos as well as description of tree characteristics.  Easy to use.

A nice site intended primarily for people working in urban and community forests; colorful, easy to navigate. Click “Resources” on the home page and a drop-down menu gives you choices such as Tree Facts, Tree Guides, Tree Quotes, etc.  Clicking on “Tree Guides takes you to the updated Arbor Day What Tree Is That” tree identification field guide.  There is also a link to get the app for iphone, or to access a mobile site for free id anywhere in the U.S.

14.  Tree & Shrub Field Guide (Harris County Flood Control District, Houston, Texas)  (http://www.hcfcd.org/dl_manuals.html)
A bit far afield for Virginia naturalists, but take a good look at it; you’ll like it.  Not comprehensive by any means, but concise and good at what it covers.  A downloadable 34-page guide in pdf format, with almost three-quarters of the species being ones you’ll encounter in our area.  To access it, go to “Manuals & Guides” in the box on the left side of the pace, and click on “HCFD Tree & Shrub Field Guide.”  

 Compact one-page entries for each species, with photos of leaves and fruit, a brief description, a brief note on preferred locations, short descriptions of the leaves and fruit, useful remarks, and the typical lifespan.  (A ruler is included in the photos to give a good sense of scale.)  For easier viewing, click on the percentage box above the slide and blow up the slide by increasing the percentage.

Backyard Plants” is a subsection of Jim Conrad’s “Backyard Nature” website.  It’s a commercial website, but not annoyingly so.  Extremely colorful and stylish, designed to attract a general audience and appeal to students.  There is a “special focus” section on trees, and numerous links to items such as stem types, plant defenses, tree bark, plant galls, and on and on, all copiously illustrated and full of interesting information.  Highly recommended.

The five sites below are much less authoritative, much less technical, and much less comprehensive than the sites above.  Nonetheless, I’ve included them because they have value for a person just learning trees, walking through the woods and trying to identify the more common species he or she sees.

Taken from “Fifty Trees of Indiana” by T. E. Shaw, this is a brief but handy guide to tree identification, approaching the task as a process of elimination.  It places tree identification for this limited number of species within the context of tree communities and tree “relatives,” and provides a simple chart for identifying them, based primarily on characteristics of their leaves.  Contains links to a glossary for tree terms, as well as to a variety of tree-related topics.

Just what the name says.  Nothing comprehensive, but some useful tips for identifying trees based on distinctive leaves, bark, buds, fruit, etc.  A nice complement to other sites for those beginning to learn their trees.  Not especially long--probably the equivalent of three or four typed pages.  Non-technical and helpful for a novice; well worth reading and remembering.

Something fun to try your hand at--identifying trees by examining a cross section of wood.  Common species only, not meant to be exhaustive.  This is another section of the Iowa State website listed earlier.

19.  eNature.com Field Guide to Trees (http://enature.com/fieldguides/intermediate.asp?curGroupID=10)
This large commercial site provides online field guides to birds, butterflies, insects and spiders, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, seashells, seashore creatures, and wildflowers, in addition to the guide to trees.  The tree section divides trees by their leaf type into seven separate simple categories (needle-leaf conifers, scale-leaf conifers, untoothed simple leaves, toothed simple leaves, lobed simple leaves, compound leaves, and palms).  Beyond that, however, the categories become problematic.  It’s unclear how pages for species are organized, although stretches seem alphabetized, and members of a genus are grouped together.

 Advertisements take up at least half of each page, and the thumbnail photos and text for each species are discouragingly small.  Clicking on the name of the species does, however, take the viewer to a page for that particular species, with a good-sized photo and text as well as a fair amount of solid information.

20.  West Virginia Trees: Basic Tree Identification for FFA Forestry Contest (http://www.wvforestry.com/Tree%20ID.pdf)
A simple site for learning over thirty basic trees quickly, developed for high school FFA students.  All of the trees shown are common Virginia species as well.  The material is stripped down to the most helpful and most essential information, presented in non-technical language.  Obviously amateur writing and photography, but each tree is presented via clear photos of a leaf and the trunk/bark, and a short paragraph giving key identification tips.  Useful for someone just getting started.

B. Tree Identification: Various Genera

21.  Native Pines of Eastern North America (http://www.ncsu.edu/project/dendrology/index/titleb.html)
An online guide to the pines, developed by Karen Hall and Richard Braham of the Dept. of Forestry at North Carolina State.  Designed as a tutorial for students studying the eastern pines.  Simple, uncluttered layout with audio accompaniment to give correct pronunciations.  Links to numerous sub-features, such as bark, leaves and buds, range and habitat, and reproductive structures, each with very good images.  Additional links to a glossary, references, and an interactive comparison tool.

A very handy key for a difficult genus.  Dichotomous, has photos of leaves and acorns, is easy to follow and use.  Based on trees in leaf; not a winter key.  Highly recommended. 

C. Winter Tree Identification

23.  Winter Twig Keys to Common, Native, Fully Deciduous Trees and Phanerophyte Shrubs of the North Carolina Eastern Piedmont {http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/plantbiology/ncsc/vulpia/pdf/Stucky,%20Woody%20twigs.pdf)
As the title well indicates, this is an academic publication, heavy with passive voice and a bloodless style, but it provides a useful online tool for keying out winter twigs.  No illustrations or photos.

24.  A Beginning Guide to Winter Tree Identification (http://forestry.about.com/od/treeidentification/a/winter_tree_id.htm)
This guide by Steve Nix is on the Forestry portion of the “About.com” website.  Contains some very helpful basic information along with identification tips.  Also links to additional pages such as “Tree Leaf Identifier and Key,” “Tree Identification Guidebook,” “100 Most Common Trees,” “20 Common Tree Diseases,” “Tree Anatomy and Identification,” “Tree ID Glossary,” etc.   This is a commercial site, and the ads can be distracting, but it is useful and informative.

A brief one-page article by Violet Snow on using bark, buds, growth patterns, and lingering seed pods to identify trees.  This article references only deciduous trees, but there is a link to another article on “Pines, Conifers, and Evergreens.”  A more focused--but still brief--article by the same author on “Identifying Trees by Their Bark” may be found at http://botany.suite101.com/article.cfm/identifying_trees_by_their_bark.

D. Tree Photo Sites

26.  Forestry Images    (http://www.forestryimages.org/)
A fabulous site for the visual learner, created as a joint project of The Bugwood Network and USDA Forest Service, and the University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources - College of Agricultural and and Environmental Science - Dept. of Entomology.  Contains sections on trees and plants, silviculture, invasive species, forest pests, wildlife, and more, with thousands of photos in each image category.

 Each section mentioned has a home page with a drop-down menu.  The section on forest pests, for example, has sub-sections on insects, diseases, and other damage agents.  The sub-sections are themselves subdivided, so that under “Insects” you find bark beetles, foliage feeding, wood boring, and invasive.  Clicking on any item in the menu leads you to a treasure-trove of photographs on every element of the item, most taken by Forest Service personnel.  An enormous resource, with over 75,000 photos in the collection.

As the name implies, this site is an extensive set of photos. One section of the site is devoted to trees, shrubs, and woody vines. (Another section is devoted to forbs, and a third to grasses and grasslike plants.) Photos can be accessed via a common name index, a scientific name index, or by family.

E. Invasive Trees

28.  National Invasive Species Information Center (http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/main.shtml)
A USDA site with legal definitions and guidance for responses to invasive species, as well as profiles for a variety of invasive plants.  It has a “Plants Custom Search Engine” to search for invasive species information.  Links to economic impacts, educational resources, image galleries, and management, as well as numerous government publications, many excellent.

29.  Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas~4th edition, 2010 (http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/
Created by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this is a well-designed site with explanations of the history of each plant’s introduction, its distribution, the ecological threat it poses, and a description of the plant and its biology.  Text accompanied by clear and colorful photographs. 

Click on the photo of the book title on the left of the home page to get to the Table of Contents, and then click on the name of the desired plant to go to a page devoted to that species.  Plants are grouped under “Aquatic Plants,” “Herbaceous Plants,” “Shrubs,” “Trees,” and “Vines.”

30.  Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States: Identification and Control (http://www.invasive.org/eastern/)
This website does an excellent job of describing itself, so the simplest approach is simply to quote it:  “Drawing on recent publications by the USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA APHIS PPQ and the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council, this web site covers identification characteristics, distribution, and control options for 97 tree, shrub, vine, grass, fern, forb, and aquatic plant species that are invading the eastern United States. For each species, a menu of control options is presented, including mechanical treatments, specific herbicide prescriptions, and, for selected species, recent advances in biological control.

 Following the introduction is a list of invaders, with both their common and their scientific names, divided into categories--aquatic forbs, ferns, forbs, grass/grasslike, shrubs, and trees.  Clicking on the name of a plant takes you to a number of photos of the plant, as well as a link to the USDA NRCS Plant Guide page for the species, and a distribution map.

31.  Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/invspinfo.shtml)
Part of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website, this site explains what invasive alien plant species are and why they are a problem.  It provides species fact sheets by clicking on “Factsheets” on the right side of the page.  Factsheets are available for thirty of the species, but only a handful of those are trees or large shrubs (Autumn Olive, Russian Olive, Tree-of-Heaven, Winged Burning Bush).  An invasive plants list and a ranking of the threats they pose can be accessed by clicking on “Invasive Plants List.”

32.  Forestry Images       (http://www.forestryimages.org/)
See the description for this site listed in the “Tree Identification” section above.

F. Riparian Forestry

This one-page article from the University of Idaho Extension can be accessed by going under the “Riparian Management” heading and clicking “Riparian Zone Tree Plantings” in the “Articles” subsection.  Defines riparian zones, explains why they are ecologically important, and provides lists of flood tolerant and very flood tolerant species.  (Note that other articles and resources are available on aquatic and invasive plants, silvicultural decisions relevant to riparian management, and other topics.)

Excellent discussion of the role of forest management in improving environmental quality for stream organisms, thus sustaining and promoting aquatic biodiversity.  Somewhat academic style, but readable.

The final report of a statewide task force in South Carolina, with 94 pages of discussion of the value of forest buffers, as well as techniques for creating and managing them.  While the report is specific to South Carolina, the definitions and methodology have broad applicability.  An excellent resource. 

G. Urban Forestry

Developed by D. Andrew White, “Urban Trees” examines the suitability of over fifty species for urban planting.  The section for each tree discusses its relationship to other trees, its natural range, its uses, and its pluses and minuses for city planting.  Each entry ends with a link to the tree’s ISA Species Rating.  Links to some photos as well.  An interesting site with a different perspective. 

37.  TreeLink        (http://www.treelink.org/)
The motto emblazoned across the top of the webpage is “Knowledge empowering people, and technology enabling cities to support urban and community forests.”  Their “welcome” says, “This site was created to provide information, research, and networking for people working in urban and community forestry.”  Their mission statement reads:  “To raise awareness and raise support for healthy urban forests.”

Key sections of the site index include a range of communications information (including “who’s who in your state”), as well as a long list of resources, sponsors, a volunteer match, listservs, and a job link.  
An excellent starting point for a community group interested in promoting local forestry; less useful for students unless they are especially interested in the organizational aspects of urban forestry.

38.  Canopy         (http://www.canopy.org/index.html)
“Canopy is a Palo Alto Based non-profit advocate for the urban forest and works to educate, inspire, and engage the community as stewards of young and mature trees,” says their website.  Although the organization is on the opposite coast, its award-winning program is a model for encouraging interest in urban forestry.

39.  Forestry Images    (http://www.forestryimages.org/)
See the description for this site listed in the “Tree Identification” section above.  One of the site’s categories, under “Trees, Plants, and Stand Types,” is “Urban Forestry.”

40.  University of Alabama at Huntsville Grounds Management Home Page (http://www.uah.edu/admin/Fac/grounds/)
A site with a different slant, this one is offered by the Grounds Management staff of the University of Alabama at Huntsville.  The campus currently has over three hundred different kinds of trees, many of which are seldom seen, with a long term goal of featuring five hundred or more different trees that might be useful to an urban forester, landscaper, or homeowner.  The grounds staff have a clear goal “to acquaint the public and professional with different trees that are successful in the landscape, but not well known, and thus offer a varied palette beyond the twenty to thirty trees that are commonly used in the landscape today.”

Double click on “The Campus Trees” (in the menu line directly under the page heading) and you travel to a page where you can decide between “The Deciduous Trees” and “The Conifers.”  If you then click on “The Deciduous Trees,” you arrive at a listing of all the deciduous trees found on the campus.  Clicking on the name of a species takes you to a page where the campus specimen’s progress is assessed in terms of growth rate, likely ultimate size, hardiness zone, pest and disease problems, and so forth.  (No photos.)

H. Tree Health

41.  Forest Health Web Sites  (http://www.forestpathology.org/others.html)
A section of Jim Worall’s “forestpathology.org” website, this page lists sites which he describes as of “general interest related to forest pathology and entomology,” and as such, the page could serve as an entry point for anyone interested in tree health.  Each listing also serves as a link to the external site.  Categories covered include: government agencies; scientific societies and North American regional groups; universities and extension services; mycology; and web sites on specific disease types.  

 While on this page, which is essentially a referral service, you can click on “forestpathology.org” and find the extensive material available on the home site, which itself covers a host of topics, ranging from fungi, root diseases, cankers, etc., through invasive species, disease profiles, and disease notes.
The site is relatively up-to-date, having been updated as of February, 2010.  Highly recommended.

42.  Plant Problem Image Gallery (http://ppwsidlab.contentsrvr.net/plant.vesh)
Developed by the Dept. of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science at Virginia Tech, this webpage has a huge gallery of photos depicting plant problems, accompanied by each plant’s common name, scientific name, the disease name, the pathogen’s scientific name, and the pathogen type.  The list can be sorted and searched using any of those factors except the disease name.  Clicking on the image of a plant takes you to a page devoted to that plant and disease, with multiple images, symptoms, a detailed description, and identification of all of the other factors.  A wonderful resource, which includes not just trees but all kinds of plants.

43.  Texas Plant Disease Handbook  (http://plantdiseasehandbook.tamu.edu/)
Offered by the Texas A & M Dept. of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.    The link connects you with the home page for their handbook.  Once there, click on “Main Menu,” and then on “Trees.”  That is followed by a page for each species or group of related species (nineteen pages in all), with a list of the diseases most likely to attack it.  Each disease entry includes a discussion of such things as how the disease is contracted, what the symptoms are, and how it should be treated. 

44.  Shigo on Tree Systems (http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/shigo/)
This site features articles written by Dr. Alex Shigo, a tree biologist who worked as chief scientist for the US Forest Service.  Articles on tree autopsies, tree survival, the science behind tree treatments, “What Arborists Need to Know About Lichens,” etc.  There is a very extensive dictionary for terms related to trees; tree pests; tree diseases and treatment; and related topics.  It can be accessed by clicking on “Dictionary MAIN PAGE” at the bottom of the webpage.  The dictionary alone is well worth a look.

This is an online version of a University of Missouri Extension publication.  Although it is aimed toward the homeowner, the discussion of the causes of tree decline is useful, as is the review of symptoms of decline. 

46.  The Tree Bark Pages      (http://www.caf.wvu.edu/bark/)
A good self-description:  “This site was designed to provide a place to learn about the anatomy and physiology of tree bark, fungal canker diseases that affect tree bark, the wound responses of injured tree bark, and the role of wound responses in the resistance of living tree bark to wound pathogens.”  One caution: Although this site is a top-of-the-line source on anything related to tree bark, it is intended for the professional more than a general audience.  The description of anatomy and physiology is highly technical; the sections on wound responses and fungal canker diseases, at the time of this writing, are still under construction.

Although this site is, in general, a disappointment, the “Tree Health Guide” portion is a strong section, with links to information on a variety of current plant and pest issues.  Aside from that, the site has a distinct commercial orientation toward selling trees, books, etc.  The “Tree Guide” portion lists promising topics in addition to the “Tree Health Guide”--topics such as “Layers of the Forest,” “Tree Classification,” “Types of Swamps,” and “Anatomy of a Tree,” but most are brief and superficial.  

I.   American Chestnut Recovery  (Note: A special section is devoted to American Chestnuts because of their immense historic, economic, and environmental importance, and because Virginia plays a central role in restoration efforts.  As the American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation says on its website, “In the first 40 years of the 20th century, blight destroyed 3.5 billion American chestnuts. [Chestnut trees made up a fourth of the entire forest in their range.] What had been the most important tree in our Eastern forest was reduced to insignificance. No comparable devastation of a species exists in recorded history.”)

48.  The American Chestnut Foundation ( http://www.acf.org/r_r.php)
The TACF site has its mission statement, a detailed history of the blight and the organization’s response, descriptions of their research farms, and profiles of the staff at the farms.  They also describe their educational programs and their partnerships in the restoration effort.  The organization’s four farms in Meadowview, Virginia, have almost 34,000 chestnut trees planted on more than 150 acres.

 Of special interest is the site’s field guide for locating, pollinating, and harvesting nuts from flowering American chestnut tree sprouts, which still exist in large numbers in the woods of Appalachia.  TACF hopes to enlist volunteers in this effort in order to incorporate as much genetic diversity as possible into their breeding program.

A full page is devoted to resources and links for people wishing more information on chestnuts.

49.  Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (http://www.vatacf.org/)
This site adopts a practical approach to efforts to restore the American Chestnut, and stresses the importance of education in its effort.  Tabs on the left of the home page take the user to such topics as the chestnut story, chestnut science, student programs, news and events, and a “How Can I Help?” section.  Click on “Student Program [sic]” and then on “Robert Strasser Slide Presentation” to see an excellent educational tool on chestnuts.

 The site also features links to the major organizations and some of the sites involved in chestnut recovery efforts.

50.  American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation (http://www.ppws.vt.edu/griffin/accf.html)
Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Dept. of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, this site contains click-on links to such topics as “Impact of American Chestnut Blight on Forest Communities,” “When Money Grew on Trees,” “Integrated Management for Chestnut Blight Control,” and a “Webrary” of links to numerous other sites dedicated to chestnut growing, breeding, management, history, etc. The American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation works to restore American chestnuts from an entirely American chestnut plant base, whereas The American Chestnut Foundation uses backcrosses to Chinese chestnuts, which are blight resistant.

J. Comprehensive Forestry
51.  Silvics of North America (Agriculture Handbook 271) (http://www.na.fs.fed.us/Spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm)
Oriented not toward identification but toward timber production and management, written for the professional.  Nonetheless, the most comprehensive information available on the web, with maps of species range; detailed discussions of the influence of climate, soil, and topography on the tree’s distribution; lists of species in associated forest cover; thorough examinations of the species’ life history; tables of timber yields; assessments of reaction to competition; discussion of damaging agents; etc.  Each page ends with a long list of professional books and articles that can serve as additional resources.

52.  Forest Inventory and Analysis National Program  (http://www.fia.fs.fed.us)
The Forest Service’s “Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) is the starting point for a great deal of the nation’s management, planning, and research pertaining to forests.  The site contains numerous reports, data banks, reporting tools, maps, etc., based on a nationwide network of scientifically selected and monitored sample sites.  A sprawling enterprise with material for anyone looking for research-based information on the state of our forests.

53.  World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Botany / Plant Biology (Biosciences) (http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/www-vl/)
This page is essentially a long, alphabetized, directory of listings for a host of sites in the areas of botany, plant biology, agriculture, and biosciences.  Each listing also functions as a link to the site.  The listings may have a few words of description (e.g., “full text,” or “for Scientists and Projects,” or “database with several thousand plant images,” or no notes at all.  A great site to go to if you simply want to roam the Internet, exploring the field, or if you want to find some subject related to trees/forestry that isn’t covered in the annotated list you are using.

54.  Forest Biology Textbook, Virginia Tech http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/forestbiology/htmltext/index.html
This online dendrology textbook contains nine chapters of college-level material dealing with tree structure and physiology, dormancy and coldhardiness, forest soils and productivity, etc.  Not light reading, but a solid online resource.

K.  Virginia Forests

55.  2009 State of the Forest:  Annual Report of Virginia’s Forests  (http://www.dof.virginia.gov/resources/pub-2009-State-Of-Forest.pdf)
A 28 pp. pdf file of the Virginia Department of Forestry’s annual report, which summarizes trends in the state’s forests, tracks the extent and types of forests, examines who owns forests, evaluates sustainability efforts and forest benefits, looks at forest health and forest research, and also reviews urban and community forest efforts--plus much more.  The best starting point for an overview of Virginia forest issues.

56.  Natural Heritage Program, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation   (http://www.dof.virghttp://dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/))
The Natural Heritage Program, while not focused on trees and forests, contains valuable information on them as elements of ecosystems and plant communities.  This is the site to go to for information on Virginia’s efforts to inventory and preserve rare plants and natural communities.  Clicking on “Native Plants” in the menu will take you to, among other things, a summary of Virginia’s physiographic provinces; clicking on “Natural Community Overview” will lead you to an excellent overview of the different landscapes in Virginia and their varied plant communities.

57.  Key to Leaves of Virginia Trees (http://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/forsite/key/intro.htm)
Eye-catching visual design highlights this key, created by Dr. Jeff Kirwan and James Ward for use with a 4-H tree identification project.  Click on “I’ve got my leaf, let’s get started!” and you’re propelled into the most usable dichotomous key imaginable.  Each choice features photos, with key features pointed out, to help you make your choice, all on a stylish black background with luminous red and blue lettering.  If you can’t learn with this site....  Highest recommendation.

58.  Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (http://www.vatacf.org/)
This site adopts a practical approach to efforts to restore the American Chestnut, and stresses the importance of education in its effort.  Tabs on the left of the home page take the user to such topics as the chestnut story, chestnut science, student programs, news and events, and a “How Can I Help?” section.  Click on “Student Program [sic]” and then on “Robert Strasser Slide Presentation” to see an excellent educational tool on chestnuts.

The site also features links to the major organizations and some of the sites involved in chestnut recovery efforts.

59.  Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/invspinfo.shtml)
Part of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website, this site explains what invasive alien plant species are and why they are a problem.  It provides species fact sheets for thirty of the species, but only a handful of those are trees or large shrubs (Autumn Olive, Russian Olive, Tree-of-Heaven, Winged Burning Bush).

60.  History of the Montpelier Landmark Forest  (http://www.montpelier.org/library/media/FM-landmark_forest.pdf)
A report on the work of a team of foresters and other volunteers, led by Tom Dierauf, who managed to recapture much of the history of Montpelier’s Landmark Forest.  This is a thorough, readable, and highly professional account of the various means by which someone can begin to understand a forest’s history--an exemplary case study on how to read a forested landscape.  Highly recommended.

61.  Wildlife Neighbors of the Williamsburg Area (http://www.baylink.org/wpc/3fr_wpc.html)
Text and photos of a book put out by the Williamsburg Publishing Co. (Text by Bill Snyder and illustrations by wildlife artist Jerry Ellis.)  Contains brief but interesting sections on Virginia trees, birds, animals, and wildflowers, with an emphasis on their regional use and history.  Interesting resource that provides a different slant from the usual guide.

62.  Virginia’s Forest Resources (Chapter 4 of Virginia Naturally)  (http://beta.deq.virginia.gov/export/sites/default/vanaturally/guide/forests.html)
Part of an assessment of environmental elements prepared by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, this webpage is a good brief summary of information on the status of Virginia forests, our forest types, their history, and the challenges they face.

63.  Virginia Cooperative Extension: Trees, Shrubs, & Groundcovers
This page is a lengthy and varied list of all the Extension Service’s publications relating to trees, shrubs, and groundcovers.  The list can be sorted by title, author, date of publication, etc.  The publications are available in PDF format; click on the title to download a publication and print your own copy, or order from the ID number given.

L.  Forest Education and Advocacy Organizations

64.  Global Forest Watch: United States’ Forests   (http://www.globalforestwatch.org/english/us/forests.htm)
Global Forest Watch is dedicated to preserving forest--especially larger tracts of relatively-unspoiled “low-access” forest.  This webpage surveys the fragmentation and degradation of natural forests, documenting trends with data, identifies areas where such tracts can be found, and makes recommendations for their preservation. 

65.  Virginia Forest Watch  (http://www.virginiaforestwatch.org/mission.html)
Virginia Forest Watch is an environmental advocacy group committed to “maintaining and restoring the natural ecology and biodiversity of Virginia’s forests” through education and citizen participation.  They encourage investment in sustainable forestry and oppose all commercial logging of public lands.

 66.  Wild Virginia  (http://www.wildvirginia.org/)
Wild Virginia, an organization devoted to protecting forests on public lands, is headquartered in Charlottesville.  Its mission statement says, “Wild Virginia is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to preserving wild forest ecosystems in Virginia’s National Forests.”  The organization has been very active in organizing citizen input into the management plan for the George Washington National Forest, and prioritizes the protection of wilderness areas, roadless areas, and watersheds.  The group holds monthly hikes into the GWNF to familiarize people with key areas.

67.  Heartwood    (http://www.heartwood.org/) 
Heartwood describes itself as “a regional network that protects forests and supports community activism in the eastern United States through education, advocacy, and citizen empowerment.”  The organization operates in an 18-state area, with special attention to what it has designated as “at-risk” forests in six states--among them Virginia and West Virginia.

68.  World Rainforest Movement   (http://www.wrm.org.uy/)
This is an environmental movement with a strong social justice tie-in.  WRM’s general orientation is “against the greening of capitalism and mercantilitzation of life and in defence of common goods.”  Specific focuses include deforestation, plantations, and indigenous lands and communities.  

M.  Miscellaneous

69.  Botanary, the Botanical Dictionary   (http://www.davesgarden.com/guides/botanary/)
An alphabetized list of over twenty-one thousand botanical words, along with each word’s meaning and etymology (usually), as well as a guide to its pronunciation.  They issue a helpful warning via a quote from W.T. Stearn:  “"Botanical Latin is essentially a written language .... How they are pronounced really matters little provided they sound pleasant and are understood by all concerned..."  Having struggled with the pronunciation of numerous botanical names over the years, I heartily appreciate that news.  It also explains why my different learned botany teachers so often pronounced the names of species differently.

70.  Botany.com Latin Plant Name Dictionary  http://www.botany.com/index.20.htm
I’ve found this dictionary useful.  It’s intended, they say, to help people “understand the [Latin] roots of botanical plant names.”  (I don’t know if the ‘roots’ pun was intentional or not.)  The listing and search mechanism is a tad unusual in that they supply an alphabetized list of two-letter combinations, and you go through it until you find the first two letters in the spelling of the word you’re searching for.  That brings up an alphabetized list of words beginning with those two letters; scroll down through that list to see if the word you’re seeking has been included.

71.  Ultimate Tree-Ring Web Pages (http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/)
This site was created by Henri Grissino-Mayer, he explains, because he felt there was “an overwhelming need” for an online site that would act as “a permanent repository of information [on tree-ring dating] that was free to the public, easily understandable, and as comprehensive as humanly possible.”  He also designed the pages, he says, “to be easily understood by people at all levels of education.”  That said, many portions of the site are actually aimed toward the university community.  Pages on the site include “New in Dendro,” which is basically a list of academic announcements, internships, conferences, etc.; an elaborate A-Z index; resources; links; software; hardware; principles; references; photo gallery; and more.

72.  Tree Trail         (http://www.treetrail.net/index.html)
Tree Trail appears to be a labor of love.  It is a non-commercial site--allows no advertising and offers nothing for sale--created by Billy Bruce Winkles and devoted to the preservation of rare native trees.  I’ll let him speak for himself:  “The purpose of this website is to assist people who want to help preserve these rare species by growing them on their own properties or other suitable locations in their communities. The site provides information on how to select and obtain the needed plants, and how to grow them."

On the left side of the home page is a list of sixteen smaller native trees which he feels are adaptable and attractive enough to be good candidates for homeowners.  Clicking on the name of a species takes you to a page loaded with information and photographs, all of excellent quality.  In addition to the normal descriptive information, each page also includes the species’ normal range, its conservation status, tips on cultivation, and sources where it may be obtained.

An unusual site, created by the Illinois State Museum, chronicling the role of forests in Illinois history.  Sections on forest types, people in forests, ancient forests, conservation, forests in art, a tree guide, a glossary, and activities and resources.  A nice model for the role of forests in history, with insights and information transferable to other locations as well.  Intended to be used by students and teachers, as well as the general public.  In the tree guide, you can click on the name of a tree and get a very nice write-up of the species, with shape and distribution, interesting facts, identifying features, and uses.  Recommended.

74.  Science Daily: Forest News  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/earth_climate/forests/f)
Science Daily presents brief digests of articles appearing in research journals, sorted by topic.  The topics themselves cover the whole gamut of science, and can be as broad or as narrow as you wish--from Environmental Issues on one end, say, to Hazardous Waste on the other.  You can select a topic and have the newest articles e-mailed to you each day.  The brief synopses are readable and hit the key findings of each study, and end with information enabling you to move on to the complete original, if you wish.  Forest News is one of the topics they cover.  This is an indispensable site for someone wanting to stay abreast of current forest research.

75.  Some Southeastern U.S. Trees and Woody Plants by Blooming Date (http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/index/southeast-trees-bloom.htm)
A Vanderbilt University site, in table form, that lists trees and other woody plants in the order of their blooming, with both scientific and common names, the families each species belongs to, starting and ending blooming dates, and a thumbnail-sized photo of the bloom of each species. Note that in the column for starting and ending dates, numbers appear in a decimal form.  They represent the blooming time in the Nashville, Tennessee area in a single year, with the first number representing the month (i.e., 1 is January, 2 is February, etc.) and the second number the week of the month.  The important information is the sequence of blooming; actual dates will vary from year to year and location to location.  

 Clicking on the scientific name takes you to a series of photos of different parts of the species--form, leaf, bark, etc.  Excellent resource!

76.  USGS: Digital Representations of Tree Species Range Maps (http://esp.cr.usgs.gov/data/atlas/little/
These are versions of the range of tree species in North America, compiled by the US Forest service and digitalized by the USGS.  Files for individual species; can be downloaded.  They warn that some of the scientific names may have changed, but they have kept the names used in the original text.

                 © Tony Russell, 2013

1 comment:

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