I am working diligently on my tree identification skills and this is where the phenology wheels (as discussed in our free Wisdom From Grandmother Moon course) are so useful: I can often identify trees at specific times (such as when they are blossoming or bearing their fruits or berries) but not in winter, etc. I’m hoping to be able to identify them any time! Creating a phenology wheel of how the tree looks in all cycles of growth helps me do so.
To learn more about phenology wheels, you can sign up for our free women-only course, Wisdom from Grandmother Moon, or visit Partners in Place, which has several excellent tutorials, sample wheels (such as the “Oak Wheel” pictured to the right) and downloadable wheel images.
Consider working with a handful of trees in your locale, and create annual phenology wheels for each. You could draw, photograph, collect samples from the tree such as a leaf (spring & autumn), needle, catkin, cone, blossom, etc. Note in your journal when— and how — the tree transforms each year (there will be subtle changes in timing year to year depending on the mix of sunlight and water) as you create a relationship with the tree and connect with its energy.
You can enhance the experience even more by exploring local history with the tree… its medicine, how it was used by the ancestors in your locale, how it fits in the local ecology, where it prefers to live (by a stream, etc), etc.
Yesterday afternoon I went looking for some Linden (Tilia) trees, specifically ones in blossom, inspired by an Instagram chat earlier in the day (triggered by my previous Elderflower post). And I found some about 1.3 kms down our street, in my Vancouver 🇨🇦 neighbourhood.
As I stood with the Linden, I felt a profound sense of calm, of peace, of gentleness.
Such beautiful trees and blossoms! Sweetly fragranced and loved by pollinators. As a herb, Linden is a relaxing nervine, great for relaxing, and reducing both anxiety & depression. It’s also great for reducing fever associated with seasonal colds and allergies. I plan to nip back with my foraging supplies and pick just a few leaves & blossoms for a summer-y iced tea… I may add some spearmint, lemon balm and even a few rose petals!
Sadly, this pic will give you some indication as to why some local residents do not like having Linden trees on their block. The small white “squiggles” on the leaves are aphids. They infest the Linden for most of the summer, because they love the leaves so much. The aphids drop their “honeydew” all over cars, sidewalks and roads… leaving a sticky mess, especially in dry months (we now have drought conditions every summer 😢). The City of Vancouver no longer plants Linden trees on city streets for this reason, but they are beautiful trees and of course thrive in the countryside, where they can live to 1000 years+.
In Europe, Linden trees were associated with the goddess Freya and were dedicated to her when planting in village squares.
Freya was a goddess of love (and also sex, lust, beauty, sorcery, fertility, gold, war and death).
This image of Freya was created by Thalia Took. Click the image to view on her website, along with more info about this powerful goddess.🌿