Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Taxonomy By Taste

The description of scarlet oak in Oaks of North America, by Howard Miller & Samuel Lamb contains this helpful nugget: "Inner bark red and not bitter to taste." Thanks for the tip!

Typical of foresters to start gnawing on bark in order to properly classify and identify trees.

When I was in college Urban Forestry majors like me had to take a course in Woody Plant Identification through the horticulture department. Most of the students in the class were landscape architecture or nursery management students. These hort students used to complain about having forestry majors in the class because the specimens to be identified on tests always had teeth marks and saliva on them.

That course was also notable for something else. It was the first time I ever ate acorns. Professor Mullin served acorn muffins and sumac cider after our final exam. What a cool guy! Of course at that time I thought he was a crackpot. Now I aspire to crackpot-dom.

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