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TREES IN THEIR LEAFLESS STATE
As the season for Arbor Day and tree-planting comes on, just before the buds begin to swell and are getting ready to cover the trees with a fresh mantle of leaves, it is well—as it is also when the leaves have fallen from the trees in autumn—to give attention to the bare trees and notice the characteristic forms of the various species, the manner in which their branches are developed and arranged among themselves, for a knowledge of these things will often enable one to distinguish the different kinds of trees more readily and certainly than by any other means. The foliage often serves as an obscuring veil, concealing, in part at least, the individuality and the peculiarities of the trees. But if one is familiar with their forms of growth, their skeleton anatomy, so to speak, he will recognize common trees at once with only a partial view of them.
Some trees, as the oak, throw their limbs out from the trunk horizontally. As Dr. Holmes says: "The others shirk the work of resisting gravity, the oak defies it. It chooses the horizontal direction for its limbs so that their whole weight may tell, and then stretches them out fifty or sixty feet so that the strain may be mighty enough to be worth resisting." Some trees have limbs which droop toward the ground, while those of most, perhaps, have an upward tendency, and others still have an upward direction at first and later in their growth a downward inclination, as in the case of the elm, the birch, and the willows. Some, like the oak, have comparatively few but large and strong branches, while others have many and slender limbs, like many of the birches and poplars.
The teacher should call attention to these and other characteristics of tree-structure, drawing the various forms of trees on the blackboard and encouraging the pupils to do the same, allowing them also to correct each other's drawings. This will greatly increase their knowledge of trees and their interest in them as well as in Arbor Day and its appropriate observance.