Seeing the Forest For the Trees: Value of Knowing Your Winter Woods

The famous saying, ‘Not seeing the forest for the trees’ reminds us we lose the big picture (forest) because of the details (trees). This figure of speech is ironic if applied literally to the winter woods. “Winter is a time to ID trees by bark, see those species over large areas and get the big picture,” says Steve Swenson, Ecologist with the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

“It’s no surprise the woods are most easily ‘read’ in the winter,” says Swenson. “Walk the low ground and high ground and see differences in the species growing there.” It’s through this detail you see the big picture, and, importantly, how it might be changing.

In the winter woods you can see large areas and start considering the most important questions such as, are my biggest trees oaks, maples, or something else? Are the young trees underneath them (your “next woods”) the same or different species? What is the distribution of invasive shrubs and tree species on your property like ironwood and buckthorn?

Contact us for your free tree identification guide!