Walk in the woods with naturalist Owen Clarkin – April 22

Winter seems to be going, coming back, going … but eventually the buds on the trees will swell and spring WILL arrive. To enhance your appreciation of our urban forest and as a kick-off activity for Champlain Park’s environment activities, join naturalist Owen Clarkin for a walk through the Champlain Woods and various streets to learn how to identify trees when there are no leaves present.

When:    22 April –  rain or shine
Time:     10 am – noon
Where:  Champlain Park Fieldhouse
Event organized by: Catherine Shearer

Refreshments at the Fieldhouse following the walk where Owen will continue to answer questions

Owen Clarkin grew up near Russell Ontario, and has been studying the trees of Eastern Ontario as a dedicated amateur since the age of 4. After finishing a conventional education in the natural sciences, he has been more seriously exploring topics in tree ecology from an Eastern Ontario perspective, together with a core group of colleagues.

Below is a snippet of a previous presentation given by Owen Clarkin a few years ago in South Frontenac.
Clarkin highlighted the not so well known relatives of common trees in the area, like the sugar maple’s cousin, the black maple, which produces a tastier sap than its relative.
He spoke about the heartleaf birch, which has a more ragged and copper-colored covering than the paper birch.
He demonstrated the difference between the shag and shell bark hickories, and also spoke of the Kentucky coffee tree, which has huge twigs and seeds and “stands up well in ice storms because of its smaller overall surface area”.

He spoke about the Blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), the only ash tree native to North America that is resilient to the emerald ash borer.
There are two cousins of the American elm: the rock elm, which can be identified by its corky twigs and pointy, yellowish buds, and the slippery elm, which has wavier branches and red, hairy buds on thicker, stouter twigs.

He spoke about the Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), which can be found in the Carolinian Zone forests that come as far north as the southern side of Lake Ontario. He spoke of the red spruce (Picea rubens), which has been found growing in Algonguin Park and can tolerate very dry and hot conditions.

Clarkin advised that if you want to get to know a tree, start first by being able to identify its twigs and buds. He stressed that research into forest and tree ecology is important since trees are “facing a huge number of threats right now as a result of climate change, which is bringing with it hotter and dryer conditions, and globalization, which is bringing invasive insects and fungi. “We’re noticing now that trees are not growing as big and living as long as they used to just a few decades ago.

So this research is very practical but it is proving very difficult to get funding for it.”
Clarkin offered advice on practical steps that homeowners can take to assist the health of their trees. “First, I would make a point of identifying what is growing in your woodlots, along your fence lines or in your yards since that will give you clues about what the land is like and will tell you which other species (likely the known companions of the species already there) are missing and that you might want to consider reintroducing.”