Identifying Trees

Have you ever been walking through the woods, minding your own business, when suddenly—and altogether without warning—you find that you are in the presence of one of those people who can identify trees? A harrowing experience, to be sure.

But perhaps, God knows why, you feel the unfathomable, slightly perverse, desire to learn to identify trees yourself. If so, you’ve come to the right place, since we at The Flying News take great pride in our ability to identify trees. That’s right. Even Ryan Rocifero can identify them. Just put him outside, and he can point out all the trees.

So how does one accomplish this remarkable feat?

There are three basic ways to identify a tree:

  1. First, see if it’s made of wood. If it’s not made of wood, then you can be pretty sure it’s not a tree.1
  2. Second, see if it’s alive. Some things that are made of wood are not trees, but they’re also not alive.2
  3. Finally, trees need to be tall. Short plants are not trees, even if they are alive and made of wood.3

worcester_shrub_hill_railway_station_sign_-_dscf0615
So that’s all there is to it. Now you, too, can annoy your friends by identifying all the trees in the woods.


“Ahnentafel von Herzog Ludwig (1568-1593), (kolorierter Holzschnitt, Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart).” Public Domain.

“Worcester Shrub Hill railway station sign,” by Rept0n1x. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Banana trees are not made of wood, but they’re also not really trees.
  2. Coat trees are sometimes made of wood (and not alive), but they’re not really trees.
  3. But trees are small when they’re babies. So if a plant is not tall, see if it shows signs of being a baby. Listen for baby-talk, watch and see whether it stumbles frequently (even when sober), and see whether it’s potty trained.

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