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Learn to identify trees in winter with bark, twigs, buds

Closeup of the bud of a Liquidambar styraciflua, or sweet gum tree.
The bud of a Liquidambar styraciflua, or sweet gum tree.

URBANA, Ill. – Knowing your trees is an important skill to have when managing a forest. The most common way to identify trees is their leaves, but trees spend almost half the year leafless.

University of Illinois Extension is offering the free three-part webinar series Winter Tree Identification starting February 1.

Forester Chris Evans will teach the basic characteristics that are used to identify trees in winter - location, bark, twigs, buds. He will also cover in detail how to ID common and uncommon Illinois trees, and spend time focusing on the hard-to-identify groups, such as hickories. Sign up to attend one or all three sessions.

Sessions are 2 to 3 p.m. February 1, 3 and 5. Sign up for free to attend one or all three sessions in advance online at

The first session on February 1 will be Introduction and Basics of Winter Tree Identification. Evans will focus on the characteristics used in winter tree identification, terminology and techniques and tools for identifying unknown tree species.

The session on February 3 is Winter Identification of Common Trees of Illinois: This session will cover the characteristics used to identify in winter the tree species commonly found in Illinois.

The final session in the series on February 5 is Winter Identification of Uncommon Trees and Difficult Groups. This program will focus on tree groups that are difficult to identify by species in winter, such as oaks and hickories. Evans will also cover uncommon tree species found in Illinois.

For more information on trees and forest management, visit Extension’s forestry website at

SOURCEChris Evans, Forestry Extension and Research Specialist; Duane Friend, Horticulture Educator, Illinois Extension
WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.