Tree Identification in Winter

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Sweetgum bundlle scars. Photo by Professor Alexander Krings, N.C. State University

Extension Gardener Workshop

Correct identification is a critical first step in making management decisions for any plant in the landscape or garden. Identification of tree species is of particular interest for landowners managing woodlands for wildlife or timber, for farmers with livestock browsing near potentially toxic species, and for naturalists seeking to enhance their familiarity with native trees.

Many may be deterred by the esoteric terminology and specialized features used for tree identification. Fortunately, most woody plants can be readily distinguished by twig, bud, and bark characteristics, making winter a great time of year to learn the identity of trees and understory shrubs on your property.

Join Matt Jones (Extension Horticulture Agent) and the Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Chatham County for a lecture and hands-on workshop on winter botany for landowners, landscapers, farmers, park managers, naturalists and anyone curious about trees. Participants will learn about the types of tree characters used for identification, as well as how to use free, online tools (such as dichotomous keys) from NC State University. Gain experience through both guided and individual practice identifying provided native tree samples.

Two identical sessions of this workshop are available to accommodate your schedule:

  • Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, 9:30 a.m.– 12:00 p.m. REGISTER
  • Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, 5:30 p.m.– 8:00 p.m. REGISTER

The workshop costs $15 per person, which includes a 10x hand lens and light refreshments for all participants. Registration and fee payment is required by Jan.11th, 2023. Select a date and click on the REGISTER link above. Additional classes may be offered if there is sufficient demand. If spaces are full, add your name to the waitlist on the registration page.

Both workshops will be held at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center (1192 US 64 W Business in Pittsboro).

QUESTIONS? Contact N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center by calling 919-542-8243 or email

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sexual identity (including pregnancy), and veteran status. NC State, N.C. A&T, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating. Persons with disabilities and persons with limited English proficiency may request accommodations to participate by contacting Ginger Cunningham, County Extension Director, at 919.542.8202,, or in person at the County Extension Office at least 30 days prior to the event.