Tree Identification - Instructor Mark Westhafer
The focus of this course is on the native tree species of the southern Appalachian region. We will identify local trees by understanding their specific morphological characteristics. This geographic area has an abundance of diverse tree species, and we will cover many of the basics of how to identify different tree species followed by hikes through local areas to have “hands on” demonstrations and practice. Our primary focus will be on the identification of our deciduous or hardwood trees rather than the evergreen species. Many of the trees we will identify are readily distinguishable by simple characteristics of their leaf morphology but we will also observe bark and flower details where applicable. The first and second classes will meet at the University of Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center (GMREC) and examine many of the trees on those grounds. The other two classes will meet at nearby locations where additional tree species can be found. Beginners are welcome and useful items to bring are a field guide and a hand lens (optional). Two highly recommended reference books are “Trees of the Carolinas” by S. Tekiela and “Native Trees of the Southeast” by Kirkman, et al. Except for a short introduction during the first session, this is an outdoor class so please be prepared for relatively easy walks but also the possibility of rain.
Mark Westhafer is a biotechnology science professional and has experience as a patent attorney specializing in biotechnology inventions. He has had a longstanding interest in tree identification, developed while growing up in the Midwest. He has taught many courses in the field of agriculture while in graduate school and enjoys getting back into the woods of North Georgia to enjoy the amazing plant diversity in this area.