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ONLINE Course: Audubon at Home: Native Tree Identification

Red oak and white oak in the Homewood Forest Preserve by Henry Hughes

October 6, 2020 , 6:00 pm 7:00 pm


Pre-registration is required by 9 a.m. CDT Monday, October 5th, and space is limited.

UPDATE: Registration is now closed. Check out our other upcoming events here.

*We understand there are economic barriers that many are facing during this time. If you need financial assistance, please email us.*

Fall is an excellent time to learn to identify native trees by their leaves and fruits, branch and bark patterns, landscape location (wet-site to dry-site), and soil type. Join Henry Hughes for this new class on native tree identification! Using photographs, line drawings, and a simple written decision key, you will learn the physical characteristics of each tree species and groups of species and their common and scientific names. Examples of over sixty species will be taken from natural forests, urban forest fragments, historic properties, and landscape plantings. You can find many of these publicly accessible trees in the Birmingham area on your own from the locations provided.

Henry Hughes hiking at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo by Michelle Blackwood.

Each class meeting covers a different aspect of tree ID for the beginner:

– Day 1: Introduction to common and scientific (Latin) names; identifying characteristics of leaves, buds, twigs, fruits, bark, branch patterns, and habitat; plant taxonomy (families, genera, species); and the oak-hickory-pine forest.
– Day 2: Red oaks, white oaks, and beech
Day 3: Hickories, pines, and other conifers (hemlock, juniper, bald-cypress)
– Day 4: Overstory trees (maples, birches, ashes, elms, yellow-poplar, sweetgum, etc.)
– Day 5: Understory trees (dogwood, sourwood, sassafras, holly, hornbeam, etc.)

Where and when do we meet? This online course meets on five consecutive Tuesdays (10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, and 11/10), from 6–7 p.m. CDT, with the exception of November 3rd when there will be no class due to Election Day. We’ll keep November 17th as a back-up if needed. It will be a one-hour online class with some time at the end for questions.

Cost: Your one-time registration fee of $50 covers all five meetings.* (While you are not required to attend each class, do note that we cannot refund individuals for partial attendance.)

Textbook: The user-friendly “A Key to Common Native Trees of Alabama” (ANR-0509, 2014) will be our in-class reference, easily accessed, downloaded and printed from the Alabama Extension System here. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the reference prior to the first class. 

Registration: Space is limited. To register, click on the button above. If you’re new to our online system and don’t yet have a username and password, simply click the “X” on the pop up and fill out the basic form. You’ll receive an automated email upon registering.

Please note, you will receive a separate email with the Zoom webinar instructions before the first class (once registration closes). You’ll need the link or webinar ID and password from this email to join the meeting. In the event the link does not work for you, you may need to go to the Zoom website and manually enter the webinar ID and password. Please double check your email and make sure it’s a valid email address prior to completing your registration. We’ve had several kick-backs when sending the Zoom meeting instructions out to registrants, and you won’t be able to join the webinar without this information. Thanks!

Questions? Email the Outreach & Communications Director.

About the instructor: Henry Hughes worked in urban and rural forestry in Alabama for 25 years before serving as director of education at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for ten years. In retirement, he serves as executive director of Friends of Shades Creek and as co-chair of the Stewardship Committee of the Cahaba River Society. He has taught forest, soil, and watershed-related classes for 20 years at the Audubon Mountain Workshop. He studied forestry and botany at the University of the South, Sewanee, and plant and soil science at the University of Kentucky and Texas A&M University.


Will this be recorded, and will I have the ability to view them later? Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to record our online courses. Please check out our other upcoming online events here.

Is there a waiting list? We do not have waiting lists for our online courses at this time. 

The link doesn’t appear to be working. You may need to go to the Zoom website (https://zoom.us) and manually enter the webinar ID and password. Also, wait until just a couple of minutes before the meeting is supposed to begin to try to enter the meeting. It will not work if you try to join the meeting half an hour before it’s scheduled to begin, for instance.

I did not receive the email with the Zoom meeting instructions. Please double-check the email address you enter when registering for the course as that is where the instructions will be sent (once registration closes). You may need to add us to your email provider’s safe sender list in the event it goes to spam. Also, please contact us by the morning of the event if possible as generally you should have received the email right after registration closes so that we have time to address your issue.