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Native Tree Identification

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Unlobed oak leaves

Unlobed oak leaves.
B.K. Kirchoff, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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.

The< terminology and specialized features used for tree identification can be intimidating for amateur naturalists and landowners alike. However, by understanding a few critical terms and learning how to use dichotomous keys, most trees can be identified to the genus or species level. Understanding and practice with these techniques will enable participants to identify trees with much higher accuracy than is possible with simple pictorial guides or phone apps.

Join Matt Jones (Extension Horticulture Agent) and the Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Chatham County for a lecture and hands-on workshop on tree ID skills using leave, flower, fruit, and bark features. This workshop is open to 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 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:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, 9:30 a.m.– 12:00 p.m. REGISTER
  • Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, 6–8:30 p.m. REGISTER

The workshop costs $10 per person. Registration and fee payment is required by Aug. 28, 2020. 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).

This workshop is part of the Extension Gardener series of workshops that are open to everyone. It is also part of the Extension Master Gardener℠ program of Chatham County core training

QUESTIONS? Contact N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center by calling 919-542-8202 or email

Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made by August 14, 2020, to Ginger Cunningham, County Extension Director, at 919-542-8202 or email: