Collecting the specimens for mounting

When to collect

Leaves.  Because this project begins in the autumn, many trees will have dropped their leaves.  Green leaves are the best to use in the collection, so leaves of all but the conifers should be collected after the end of May.

Fruits.  Most fruits should be collected in the autumn when seeds are matured.  The collection can be completed in spring and summer with seeds from the few trees that fruit in these seasons.

Twigs.  Small branches may be collected any time in the autumn or winter, after the leaves have dropped.  Of course, conifers that keep their leaves (all but the larches) have full-sized buds by October.  A twig from one of these trees bears the leaves and occasionally the fruit as well.

Where and what to collect

Leaves.  Specimens of average size should be selected, not taking those that are extra large and found on sprouts or vigorously growing seedlings.  In specimens with compound leaves (locusts, walnuts, hickories, ashes), the whole leaf, not just the leaflet, should be obtained.  Leaves of black walnut, butternut, the hickories, or honey-locust, may be too large to mount easily, so smaller but typical specimens should be gathered.

Twigs. The twig should be cut about 5 inches long, from a live side branch (not from the top shoot which would spoil the tree).  Sprout growth should be avoided.  Lower branches that are heavily shaded may not show typical features.  The specimen should include the terminal bud (if present in the species) and several side (lateral) buds.  Dead branches, of course, are not acceptable.

The twigs should be cut on a slant to expose the pith.  This is particularly important for black walnut, butternut, and american chestnut.  If a number of twigs are collected on any one day, each should be tagged to prevent identification mistakes.

Fruits.  Many fruits, such as nuts from hickories and walnuts, samaras of maples, seeds of white ash, balls of sycamore, and pods of locusts are easy to find and collect.  However, a close watch must be kept for many others.  The fruits of cucumber and tulip trees are usually high up near the tops of the trees.  The worm-like fruits of poplars and willows quickly drop and must be gathered within a few days after ripening.  (Care should be taken not to gather the flowers instead of the fruits.)  Catkins of the birches are often mistaken for the cone-like fruits.  It is best to collect several fruits, as well as twigs and leaves, from which to select one or more good-looking specimens for mounting, and to have others in case of accident.

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