An activity to encourage careful observation of twigs and buds of fruit
trees in winter.
- Identify different parts of a winter twig.
- Observe orchard plants in winter.
- Identify orchard trees by twig and bud characteristics..
- Prunings from several different fruit trees
- Hand lenses for student teams
- Pencils and notepads
Walking with students to the orchard, teacher points out opposite and
alternate twig/branch formation. (Most trees have alternate branching.
The Maple is a common tree with opposite formation.). The class gathers
around a fruit tree. What do you see? After a few responses (nothing,
branches, etc.), teacher asks students to look more closely and shows
students buds, leaf scars, and bundle scars (dots on leaf scars).
Students choose two different tree types to compare. What are the similarities
and differences between twigs on these two trees? All observations are
useful. If there is no mention of the shape of leaf scars, number of bundle
scars and the shape and color of the buds, teacher emphasizes them as
important twig identification characteristics.
Indoor Procedure (optional)
Teacher distributes one cutting from orchard tree pruning to groups of
2 - 4 students. Each cutting must have at least one leaf scar and one
Groups observe their cuttings and write down three characteristics of
the twig. Using bud identification illustrations (see listed books), groups
try to match the cuttings to the appropriate trees.
Each group labels twigs, shares observations and conclusions with the
class, places twigs in water for classroom display.
- How are fruit trees similar or different from trees in the schoolyard,
on the street, or at home?
- Are the orchard trees alive or dead? How do you know? If students
answer dead, ask Will they come back to life?
The orchard trees are all fruit producing, and some are in the same plant
family, so their twigs may seem very similar when compared to dissimilar
twigs of non-fruit bearing trees.
Although deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) do become
dormant (slow down and even stop life processes) during the winter,
bud production is a sure way to know that trees are alive and that their
sap is flowing.