Winter Twig

Winter Twig ID Field Course

Overview

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 a Sunday in late January.

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. The skill is useful for gardeners and anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors throughout the year.  The class will only cost $5, and participants will have the option to purchase our "Winter in the Woods" guide to deciduous native plants of Washington for $7. 

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

Date: The last Winter Twig ID Class was on Sunday, January 22, 2017.
Time: Two times to choose from! Morning Session: 10am-12:30pm, or Afternoon Session: 1pm-3:30pm


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.