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Word of the Week: Whorl
January 01, 2020 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Word of the week is Whorl [hwurl] (botany noun): An arrangement of similiar parts (sepals, petals, stipules or branches) that radiate from a single point and surround or wrap around the stem of a tree or plant.

When the ground is covered in a blanket of white snow, we can always count on the deep green colours of the High Park evergreen trees to bring that contrasting pop of colour.

Many evergreen trees, like pines, spruces, and firs, have whorled branches that form a circular pattern around the growing tip. Each whorl represents one year of growth, which means that counting the number of whorls can help us determine the age of these trees, especially for young evergreen trees.

Here are some tips for counting whorls to determine the age of an evergreen tree (according to Open Oregon Educational Resources):

This method of “counting the whorls” usually works very well up to fifteen years of age. One really has to get close to the tree, look carefully for evidence of bud scars, and know the growth habits of these species.

On your next Winter visit to High Park, we would like to encourage you to find a young evergreen tree and try to determine the age by counting whorls.


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