By Carol Brock
Fall is full of wonderful things, especially piles of autumn leaves! It’s also fun to find pinecones, berries and nuts.
Let’s go on a scavenger hunt and learn about trees. Try to find each item listed here and check it off your list when you do (it’s OK if your parents help you, too). Ready, set, go!
This tree is also called a rowan. Ancient Celtic, Irish and Welsh people thought the tree protected them from witches and its bright red berries warded off evil spirits. The small red fruits contain vitamin C and feed birds and wildlife in fall and early winter. Do you see a bird eating one?
Aspen leaves tremble and flutter on the gentlest breeze; that’s why they’re called quaking aspen. Every tree in an aspen grove is a clone of the single aspen that started the grove, and each tree is bound to the others by a single, gigantic root system. Scientists think an aspen colony in Utah may be the world’s largest single organism.
Raindrops that drip to the ground from the drooping branches look like tears, so that’s how this tree got its name. Ancient people made remedies from the bark that cured fevers and chills. The curing power in the bark is salicin, the basis for today’s aspirin.
Ohio Buckeye Nuts
The glossy, brown nuts of this tree may look pretty, but don’t eat them! They’re poisonous, along with the leaves and bark. Squirrels can eat the nuts, though, no problem!
Pee-yew! The ginkgo’s plum-like fruit stinks! Even though the fruit smells funny, traditional Chinese medicine uses it to treat asthma and coughs. The golden autumn leaves look a little like fans, don’t you think?
Sumac berries taste lemony and contain lots of vitamin C. Robins, turkeys, deer and other birds like to eat the berries, and early settlers made a type of lemonade with the leaves, which turn crimson in autumn.
Native Americans and early settlers roasted the seeds of this tall tree to make a bitter type of coffee, but unroasted seeds are poisonous. Some Native American tribes used the seeds for jewelry and dice.
Catalpa seedpods hang down like long, skinny green beans that turn brown in fall. The tree’s large heart-shaped leaves look a bit like elephant ears. Do you agree?
Pointy maple leaves turn the prettiest colors in autumn. They can be bright red, orange, yellow or scarlet. The sap of sugar maples is made into maple syrup, but most Colorado maples don’t make maple syrup, as many of these trees came from Asia.
Blue Spruce Pinecone
The silvery blue spruce is the Colorado state tree. It gets very tall, up to 200 feet. It can also live a long time, up to 800 years! It’s a coniferous evergreen, which means it makes pinecones and never loses its bluish needles in winter.
Native to Colorado, the plains cottonwood is sacred to Native Americans. In spring, the seeds sail on the breeze and look like puffs of cotton. Cottonwoods grow along waterways, and the heart-shaped leaves brush together in the wind to make a distinctive rustling.
Pointy pin oak leaves turn fiery red in fall and cling to the tree for most of winter. The tree is also called swamp oak, because it doesn’t mind a flood every now and then. Native Americans made tea from the bark to treat bellyaches. The acorns feed squirrels and deer.