Discover the Trees of Carp

Welcome to Discover the Trees of Carp, an online walking tour in the village of Carp in Ottawa, Ontario to enjoy and learn about trees.

Learning to identify tree species takes practice.  The Trees of Carp tour shows you real life examples, provides links to learn more, and has a quiz.  You will see trees on your walks in the village in a whole new way!  The tour is also useful if you’re planning on planting a tree or trees in your yard.  You can read about and look at a range of species growing in parks and along streets to help you assess different trees for suitability to your needs.

The identification information provided in the Trees of Carp tour is not complete. Key distinguishing characteristics are highlighted, but you will often need to look at more features: bark, leaves, twigs, growth form, fruit. Buy a good reference book or use online sources. Some people use the iNaturalist app, which has an image ID function, but it’s not always correct. Try to identify the tree first using your observation skills and then use iNaturalist to confirm it.

Trees in the tour are primarily growing in public places.  Some are street trees, but grow on the edge of people’s yards on the municipal right-of-way.  You are encouraged to observe trees planted along streets and in yards to help with your identification skills, but please do not trespass on anyone’s property to take a better look at a tree and respect the landowner’s privacy.

Why Carp?

A large number of tree species grow in the village of Carp.  It has a mix of suburban landscape with planted trees surrounded by large natural areas with many native species. And the village is a pleasant place to go for a walk!

The tour is missing a few native tree species.  Either none are growing in the village (e.g. Bitternut Hickory) or the trees are not growing in publicly accessible places (e.g. Hemlock).  References below provide a complete list of trees native to Eastern Ontario.

Instructions

You can take the Trees of Carp Tour in three different ways.

  1. On your computer or smart phone without leaving your house.  
    • This approach is a great way to check out the trees before you head out on a walk.
    • On the Trees of Carp map above, click anywhere to start exploring. To view the map in full screen mode, click on the open rectangle in the upper right.
    • Click on a tree icon to view the information about that tree.
    • Click on the photo to display it and to view other photos.
    • Click on the back arrow in the upper left to return to text information.
  2. On your smart phone’s web browser while walking in Carp.
    • This approach works if you’re familiar with the village and know where you are.  It does use data, so may incur a cost depending on your cell phone data plan.
    • On your smart phone, select this link: Trees of Carp or use the share function in the map above to send yourself an email with the map link.  A map will open on your phone on a web page (Figure 1).
      • You can select the Discover the Trees of Carp text at the bottom of your screen to display the complete menu of trees. To return to the map, just select the left arrow in the upper left.
    • You can walk around Carp and touch a tree icon when you are near a tree’s location. This displays the tree’s name at the bottom of the screen (Figure 2).
    • Select the tree’s name at the bottom of your screen to see the text and photos (Figure 3) for that tree.  Scroll up to read the text.
    • Select the photo to display it and to view other photos by using the arrows.
    • Select the back arrow in the upper left to return to tree’s information.
    • Select the back arrow again to return to the map. 
  3. On your smart phone using Google Maps to see your location while walking in Carp.
    • This method seems to have some problems displaying the photos on an iPhone. It’s also not as user friendly when playing a video. If you don’t need to see your location on a map, use your web browser as described in the second method above.
    • This approach shows your location on the map, which is helpful if you don’t know the village. It does use data, so may incur a cost depending on your cell phone data plan.
    • You will need the Google Maps app on your phone.  Enable GPS so your location can be tracked.
    • On your smart phone, click on this link: Trees of Carp or use the share function in the map above to send yourself an email with the map link.  A map will open on your phone on a web page.
    • Select the Google Maps icon in the upper right of the Trees of Carp map (Figure 4).
    • You can see your location on the map (blue dot) along with the tree icons (Figure 5).
    • Select a tree icon to view the information about that tree.
    • Select the bar just above the tree’s name to view all the information and the photos (Figure 6).
    • Select the photo to display it and to view other photos by swiping left (Figures 7 and 8).
    • Select the back arrow in the upper left to return to the tree’s information (Figure 9).
    • Select the back arrow in the upper left to return to the map or select “Show Map” at the bottom of your screen to return to the map.

If you’ve loaded the Trees of Carp tour into Google Maps on your phone, you can return to it without having to use the link.

  • Open Google Maps on your phone.
  • Select the Saved icon at the bottom of your screen.
  • Select the Maps icon at the bottom of your screen.
  • A list of your saved maps will be displayed.  Select Trees of Carp to open the tour in Google Maps.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 1.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 2.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 3.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 4.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 5.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 6.
Discover the Trees of Carp online tour.
Figure 7.
Discover the Trees of Carp Tour online tour.
Figure 8.
Discover the Trees of Carp Tour online tour.
Figure 9.
Trees of Carp Quiz

One you’ve completed the tour, test your new tree ID skills by taking the Carp Tree Quiz.  Quiz Trees are shown on the map with a Green Question Mark icon.  You can do the quiz on the computer, but it’s really best to observe the trees in person.  So take another walk!  Using your smart phone, select the icon to view photos and clues.  The answer is provided in the last photo for each tree. Don’t peek!

Feedback

Tell us what you think about Discover the Trees of Carp. Submit your comments on our Contact page.

Want more trees? Too many trees? Want more videos? Want more Quiz Trees?

What did you like? What didn’t work for you?

More quiz trees are coming, including a Rivington Park tree quiz where you’re given a list of species and have to match them to the trees.

Learn More

Growing Trees in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec – Trees Canadensis offers a downloadable PDF with a comprehensive overview of growing native tree species in our area with links to more information.

Want help identifying a tree?  Take three photos:  of the whole tree, of leaves on a twig, and of the bark.  Post the photos with information on where you saw it on this local Facebook group:  Tree Ottawa’s Tree ID and Tree Discussion.

Planting native trees is important to our health and the health of the natural world.  Read the books by Dr. Douglas Tallamy or watch his videos.  Here are some links:

  • Nature’s Best Hope:  A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard  (2020) – This is Tallamy’s best book.  He describes the criticality of growing native plants in home gardens in order to sustain native insect populations and thus the food web in every community. It’s easy to read, the proofs are clear, and the individual actions to take are simple.  The book is available in the Ottawa Public Library.
  • Nature’s Best Hope webinar on Google Video.
  • Just google “Douglas Tallamy videos” and you’ll find many selections online.

Check out Carp resident Lana Doss’s webinar on the Benefits of Gardening with Nature available on the Friends of the Carp Hills YouTube channel.

Homegrown National Park – This is a U.S. initiative, but its goals are applicable to Canada.  It is based on Tallamy’s call to action by homeowners to plant native species.

Where to Buy Native Trees

So you’ve taken the tour, learned about the importance of planting native trees, and now you’re inspired to plant some.

It’s difficult to find nurseries that sell native trees.  The nursery industry focuses on exotic non-native species, newly created genetic Frankensteins, and inbred cultivars.  Of course planting (almost) any tree is better than no tree at all!  But if you can, plant a native species.

The best source for native trees is Ferguson Tree Nursery in Kemptville.  You can buy individual potted trees only when their retail store is open, which is for a few weeks in the spring and late summer.  Otherwise you have to order online and the minimum order is 25 trees!  (Of course you could band together with neighbours and buy 25 trees.)  Spring offers the best selection of potted stock.  

Please avoid planting these non-native trees, which are invasive:

  • Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) – This widely planted tree and its cultivars is an invasive species that is disrupting woodland ecologies.  See the Ontario Invasive Plant Council for information about Norway Maples.  The tree is undesirable for other reasons:  it has dense shade (grass doesn’t grow well under it) and its trunk and limbs crack easily.
  • Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) – This widely planted conifer spreads into natural areas.  Some have been found growing on the edges of the Carp Hills.  See the Ontario Invasive Plant Council for information about Scots Pine.
  • Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata) – This small, ornamental tree has not been officially declared as invasive, but it should be!  Widely planted by the City of Ottawa, it has been found spreading into woodlands throughout the Ottawa area.

An online Ottawa area nursery is Antheia Gardens.  They offer a wide range of native trees and shrubs.  They also sell many non-native trees and cultivars so you will need to be careful in your selection.  Always check the scientific name for the tree (e.g. Red Maple – Acer rubrum (native), vs. Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Flame ‘(cultivar).  And definitely avoid a Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), which is invasive.  If you must have an exotic non-native, make sure it’s hardy to our area.  This nursery’s list contains some non-native species that might grow well in the warmer city core, but may not survive colder temperatures in Carp.

You may be able to find native trees at Ottawa nurseries.  Look carefully at the scientific name on the tag to ensure you’re getting a native tree or a native tree cultivar.

There are also online, mail order tree sources in Ontario.  They offer a good selection, but the tree seedlings are usually under 2 feet in height.

About Cultivars

Cultivar stands for “cultured variety”.  Native trees display a broad range of variability.  Some individual trees might have a characteristic that is deemed to be commercially desirable like compact growth or a different leaf colour.  Trees with this characteristic are then selectively bred together over generations to enhance this characteristic.  Trees that best exhibit it are then given a trademarked name and the best ones are sold in nurseries.

Selectively breeding for a particular characteristic may mean that other characteristics are weakened or bred out of the tree.  Cultivars are often less robust than their native ancestors.  They may succumb to disease or be less cold tolerant.  There may be chemical changes that make the tree less nutritious for native insects and wildlife.  Or the cultivar may be perfectly fine.  Some may be deliberately sterile.  It’s hard to know.

So yes a cultivar bred from a native species is technically still a native species, but its genetic diversity has been manipulated and its impact on ecological function is unknown.  Learn more about cultivars – pros and cons – by googling “advantages of cultivars” and “problems with cultivars”.