Winter Twig Identification

Field Course

Add a new dimension to your winter outings when you join local plant experts to learn the secrets to identifying local shrubs and trees without their leaves.

The Native Plant Salvage Foundation is offering “Winter Twig Identification,” a 2.5-hour field class held every year on the Sunday after our Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service.

These "walking workshops" will take place on a West Olympia-area nature trail.  Small groups of learners will be matched with knowledgeable instructors to learn the keys to identify over 25 native plants.

We will provide hot water for tea, cocoa or coffee. Bring your own mug to carry along the trail and enjoy.

Registration recommended for very attentive children and adults as our pace is a *botanist crawl!

Workshop admission

$15 per regular workshop admission

$25 per sponsor admission to directly support the environmental education efforts of Native Plant Salvage Foundation.

Are you a student, Americorps member, or seeking scholarship opportunities? Email Samantha at

Registration is required. Workshop details and directions will be sent to all participants following registration.

Pair your field learning with a guide companion.

Order your guide online and pick up at the Winter Twig Identification Field Course on January 27th, 2019.

When checking out, just select the “Pick up at Workshop!” option in the shipping section.

Standard shipping is also available.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Morning Session: 10am-12:30pm

Afternoon Session: 1pm-3:30pm

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*Botany crawl: the speed that one walks during a outing in a botany class, identifying every bud and lenticels.

“45 minutes after we left the Natural Science building with out botany professor we were only four feet out the door keying out a tricky sedge, a remarkable amount of distance to cover using the botany crawl” - urban dictionary

Winter in the Woods' guide to deciduous native plants of Washington.jpg

Background Information

For several years, the Native Plant Salvage Project's winter identification courses have been overflowing with people eager to learn new ways to enjoy our natural environment when our weather turns cold and wet.

Many people who aren't plant enthusiasts might find it odd to have a class devoted to identifying plants in their winter state. Questions immediately come to mind: "Why should I want to know what the name of this plant is?' Why should I want to know how something looks in winter?"

Knowing what plants look like in winter has many practical benefits:

  • Winter is a good time to gather cuttings and some seeds for propagating plants.

  • Plants are dormant in the winter, making it an ideal time to salvage and transplant.

  • When you learn winter identification skills, you can rely on them to identify plants with confusing foliage in other seasons.

But, there's a greater value to plant identification. When we name things, we distinguish them from one another. And when we distinguish one species from another, we begin to experience the diversity that is inherent in our native landscapes and grow to value diversity as something worth protecting and preserving.

Being able to distinguish plants from one another in their winter, leafless state greatly adds to our appreciation of a season spent too much indoors.

Rather than seeing a dreary landscape of indistinct twigs, we begin to distinguish and appreciate the fullness of these plants in their winter splendor—the deep reds, gray-greens, yellows, oranges, and chestnut-browns of branches; the beauty in the shapes and placement of the developing buds; the overall form of the plant when not hidden in leaves; remnant fruits and newly forming catkins; and the surprising beauty in the varying textures of the twigs.

Studying the physical details of the plants in the winter ignites our enthusiasm for watching their changes throughout the seasons.