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Transcript
A Tree of Trees: What’s in a name?
Introduction
Like us, trees have names and are organized into families. Most of the families are arranged so
that similar trees are grouped, or related. This usually means that trees with similar characters like leaf
shape, flower patterns, bark, and fruit type are put together. We call this idea of grouping things at
different levels a hierarchy. We use hierarchies all the time to explain the order of things. Consider your
family tree or the way our government is set up with the President at the top. We use this concept of
ordering to organize all living things because to understand and study our natural world, we need a way
to understand how they are related.
To organize living things, a specific name is assigned that is made of two parts, the genus name
and the specific epithet. Together these two names make the species name and we refer to this type of
naming as binomial nomenclature. These names are in Latin, which helped to standardize the names for
living things around the world. Most living things also have common names, but these can vary across
different cultures making it confusing at times. The Latin name given to a species usually reflects
something about its character or is named after the person that discovered it. We define species names
through writing descriptions of what they look like, including any sort of expressive term like
measurements and color that distinguishes this species from the next. We will include common names
with the scientific names in the activity. Wouldn’t you like to have something named after you that
would be recorded forever?
We would like to introduce a gymnosperm family, or trees with “naked seeds,” and an angiosperm
family, or flowering producing trees as the two examples for this lesson. The Pinaceae, or Pine family is
commonly considered to be evergreen because of their needle-like leaves and the Fagaceae, or Oak
family is considered to be deciduous because they lose their leaves in the winter. These are two of the
plant families represented in the tree collection of the Smithsonian Gardens and will give you an idea of
how trees are named.
Family hierarchy:
Example:
Family name
Pinaceae
Species name (2 parts)
Pinus virginiana
Genus
Pinus
Specific epithet
virginiana
www.gardens.si.edu
A Tree of Trees: What’s in a name?
Vocabulary
•
Scientific name
•
Hierarchy
•
Gymnosperm
•
Angiosperm
•
Dichotomous Key
•
Flora
Learning Goals:
Students will learn about scientific
inquiry and how things are related and
grouped together, or put into a hierarchy
Strengthen classification and organizational
skills
Learn how to use a dichotomous key
Use measuring tools to compare and order
things
What you’ll need:
Activity sheet with pictures
Notebook/ paper
Colored pencils
Ruler
Magnifying glass or small hand-lens
Camera (if possible for the teacher)
Useful sources:
A plant key or flora of your area
The Names of Plants. By David Gledhill.
Cambridge University Press, 4th Ed. 2008.
Botanical Latin. By William T. Stearn. Oregon,
Timber Press, 2004.
Fact Sheets:
USDA Plants: www.plants.usda.gov
Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources and
Environmental Conservation:
http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/factsheets.cfm
For younger students
I can name 50 trees today!: All about Trees. By
Bonnie Worth. Random House, 2006.
www.gardens.si.edu
A Tree of Trees: What’s in a name?
Activity:
In the classroom or at home: Read introduction and review vocabulary. Discuss what it means to classify,
or group things together and introduce what a dichotomous key is and how it is can be used to help
identify organisms. These keys are similar to a “chose your own adventure,” because you have questions
and make choices that lead to the next step. *
Next discuss how all living things are grouped together and given names, similar to the way we are named.
Discuss how humans’ scientific Latin name is Homo sapiens and how our common name is our given family
name, like George Washington. Explain that one level of grouping is considered to be a family, the next
level a genus, and the last level the specific epithet. The genus and specific epithet name form the species
name.
Share the two plant family trees from this lesson with your students and go over the definitions of the
Latin names. Please note that these are two examples of plant hierarchies, and examples from the
Smithsonian Gardens, but there are more names that would normally be on the family trees for both
families.
Have students complete the activity using the dichotomous key to figure out the names of the pine and oak
trees from the images provided.
Get outside: Use the images provided to go out and find a pine or oak around your school or community.
Or explore the grounds of the Smithsonian Gardens and see if you can locate some of the trees indicated on
the family trees in this lesson. The trees used here are located in the following gardens: NMNH, RIPLEY,
HSG, NMAI, and HAUPT. Use the map of the garden to find your way.
Outside Activity: First, find a shady spot under a tree and have students group themselves together
depending on height. They can decide how many groups to make. Next, they can divide their
groups into subgroups depending on hair color and then by shoe size. Finally, come up with a name
in two parts that describes your group. Have each group share their hierarchy with the rest of the
class. Ask these questions:
o Do you see how this is similar to the Pine and Oak family tree examples?
o Do you see how we use characters to organize and group things together?
* Review plant
descriptions and
introduce terms
for parts of trees
For Teachers: Answers for the following activity sheets.
Pinaceae Family: 1 – Pinus bungeana, 2 – P. virginiana, 3 – P. thunbergii, 4 – P. cembra, 5 – P. pinea
Fagaceae Family: 1 – Quercus alba, 2 – Q. palustris, 3 – Q. phellos, 4 – Q. bicolor, 5 – Q. rubra
www.gardens.si.edu
Latin Name
Cedrus
Common
Name
cedar
the ancient Greek name, for a resinous tree with fragrant wood
divine tree
spruce
Pitch (the ancient Latin name, pix, refers to the resinous product)
from the Serbian name for Picea omorika
ending in a sharp point, pricking
deodara
Picea
omorika
pungens
Pinus
bungeana
cembra
pine
lace bark pine
pinea
thunbergii
virginiana
Meaning
Virginia pine
the ancient Latin name, pinus, for a cone-bearing tree
for A. von Bunge (1813-66), herbalist of Kiev, Ukraine
the old Italian name for the arolla or Swiss stone pine; some derive
it from German, Zimmer, a room
cone-producing, of pines, resembling a pine
for Carl Per Thungberg (1743-1822), Swedish physician and
professor at Uppsala, who travelled in Africa, Japan and Batavia
from Virginia, USA
Dichotomous Key activity: Use the dichotomous key to determine what five pine species
are in each picture.
Dichotomous Key to the Pines (Pinus) from the Pinaceae tree
A. Are the needles single in whorls around the branch…………. Pinus pinea
A. Are the needles clustered, or bundled (fascicle)…………….. Go to B
B. Are the needles clustered, or bundled in groups of 2 ………….. Go to C
B. Are the needles clustered, or bundled in groups of 3 or more … Go to D
C. Are the cones on your tree broad, egg-shaped and 5-7.6 cm long … Pinus virginiana
C. Are the cones on your tree found at the end of the branch, symmetrical
and 4-7 cm long ……………………………………………………………………Pinus thunbergii
D. Are the needles clustered, or bundled in groups of 3 …………… Pinus bungeana
D. Are the needles clustered, or bundled in groups of more than 3 …. Pinus cembra (5
per bundle)
Tip: Use the Latin descriptions as hints to figure out what Pine you have!
1. ____________________________
One bundle or fascicle
2. ____________________________
Needle 5-7.6 cm long
Cone at the end of branch
3. ____________________________
4. ____________________________
5. ____________________________
Latin Name
Castanea
pumila
Fagus
grandifolia
sylvatica
Quercus
alba
bicolor
palustris
phellos
rubra
Common Name
chestnut
Allegheny
chinquapin
beech
American beech
European beech
oak
white oak
swamp oak
pin oak
willow oak
red oak
Meaning
old Latin name for the sweet chestnut
very small, low, small, dwarf
the Latin name, for the beech tree, from the edible seed of beech
with large leaves
wild, of woods or forests
the old Latin name, quercus, for an oak
bright, dead-white
two shades of red, bicolor-rosea
of swampy ground
cork
red
Descriptions from David Gledhill’s book, “The Names of Plants,” 4th Ed. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Dichotomous Key activity: Use the dichotomous key to determine what five oak species are
in each picture.
Dichotomous Key to the Oaks (Quercus) from the Fagaceae tree
A. Is your leaf edge indented/ lobed, or pointy ……………………………… Go to B
A. Is your leaf edge smooth with no lobes ………………………. Quercus phellos
B.
B.
B.
B.
Are the lobes on your leaf 5-7 smooth rounded lobes ………….. Quercus bicolor
Are the lobes on your leaf 7-9 smooth rounded lobes ………….. Quercus alba
Are the lobes on your leaf 5-7 toothed or wavy lobes …………… Quercus palustris
Are the lobes on your leaf 7-11 pointy, toothed lobes ……………. Quercus rubra
1. ___________________________________
7-9 lobes
5-7 lobes
2. ___________________________________
Photos Courtesy: Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest
Resources and Environmental Conservation
3. ___________________________
4. ________________________________
Photos Courtesy: Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest
Resources and Environmental Conservation
5. _____________________________
more than 7 lobes