science education resource

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Coniferous Tree Identification - Using a Dichotomous Key

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Conifers have leaves that are green needles. Most keep their green needles all year long, except tamaracks/larch. Conifers have cones. Female cones carry the seeds. Male cones release pollen. At certain times each year, pollen is released and sent by the wind to find the seeds. The seed cones are pollinated producing fertile seeds. When the cones are dropped or harvested by animals, seeds dropped into the soil produce new conifers.


Activity - Identifing Trees:

We have supplied a 1-page Dichotomous Key below to help you identify the conifer trees in your schoolyard.

Dichotomous keys are easy to use after some practice. Bring your printed key out into the schoolyard and choose a tree to identify. Note that each step of the key usually has two choices. After identifying the trait, move onto the next step until you reach the name of your tree.

If you reach a step with vocabulary you do not know, take a moment to look up the word before moving on. Once you are comfortable identifying trees, make a map of all the trees in your schoolyard.

Download and print out the pdf below for Tree ID.

Coniferous Tree Identification - Using a Dichotomous Key

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Fulfillment of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

3. Life Science Standards

Science subject matter focuses on the science facts, concepts, principles, theories, and models that are important for all students to know, understand, and use.

K-4 Characteristics of Organisms, life cycles of organisms, organisms and environments

5-8 Structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity, regulation and behavior, populations and ecosystems, diversity and adaptations of organisms

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Amsel, Sheri. "Coniferous Tree Identification - Using a Dichotomous Key" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. March 25, 2023
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.