a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Jun, 2011

The West-end Urban Tree Challenge

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Challenge me, challenge you|Ottawa

After the whole saga with our tree the other day I got to thinking about a few things. (1) I am terrible at tree identification, and I think I should be better at it. (2) Where, in our neighborhood are the best and biggest specimens? (3) Can I find a way to identify and share them with you guys?

That’s where my urban tree map idea started. My goal here is to:





To that effect I created a Google Map document and marked down a few significant trees that I knew about:

Click to view my neighborhood tree map!

Can you help me identify some great trees in the area that’s outlined on the map above? (I’m thinking ahead to biking distances.) I’d be happy to get a dozen different specimens. And when we get to 12, my family will be climbing on our bikes and going on a tree-related scavenger hunt. And you can too! Woot!

If you know of a great tree, please plot it on the map! (Which should be fully editable if you have a Google account. Let me know if it doesn’t work for you.)

And because I need serious help in this area, I am using technology to lend a hand! I just downloaded an app called LeafSnap to help with this process. And if that doesn’t work, I’m going to the library. :)

Do you live in the area? Can you help? Add to the map!

Please note:

  • The tree should be easily viewable from public property i.e. not in someone’s private backyard)
  • Please share as much information as you can in the description of your pin (like species and age of tree if you know it)
  • Pick the biggest and best specimens you can! Variety is good.:)

If you aren’t the tree-hugging type, please consider forwarding this information to someone who is. The more people who are in on this, the better. Thank you!

16 Responses to "The West-end Urban Tree Challenge"

1 | Krista R

June 23rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm


Something like this might be helpful (and it’s pretty too!):


Lynn over at Turtlehead introduced me to this via pinterest.

Love this tree challenge!

2 | Irene

June 23rd, 2011 at 4:02 pm


Great idea! There was a group that ran an annual tree walk in our neighbourhood when we lived in California. So interesting and informative – they are a busy bunch :)
Good luck with your tree project!

3 | binki

June 23rd, 2011 at 4:21 pm


Good idea. But should you not include some photos of the trees…through Flicker? And maybe a leaf / bark?

I love trees and can (because I made a point of learning) identify many species.

4 | andrea

June 23rd, 2011 at 5:15 pm


Ooooh, a tree i.d. card! I love it Krista!

Irene – thank you for that info… was a neat project.

Binki – Great idea! I added a link to one of the trees I plotted on the map. Also, if you go on the map and click the “photos” option, photos from other Flickr photos appear there. :) I hope you’re able to add to our map!

5 | DA

June 23rd, 2011 at 6:58 pm


If you have an iPhone or iPad check out the free! Leafsnap app. Take a picture of a leaf and the app tells you the name of the tree. They are working on expanding the database so you may not get a perfect hit every time but, hey, did I mention it is free ?!

6 | DA

June 23rd, 2011 at 6:59 pm


Doh! Didn’t read you post to the end. See you already found leafsnap!

7 | Lorrie Douthwright

June 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 pm


Can anybody tell me what those big trees are that are at the Clare Avenue entrance to Clare park? They have beautiful white specked flowers & big long seed pods.

8 | andrea

June 24th, 2011 at 8:39 am


Lorrie – I wish I could remember. If no one answers you I might have to go there myself. :)

9 | Dave

June 24th, 2011 at 9:03 am


That would be a catalpa tree

10 | Tiana

June 24th, 2011 at 9:04 am


LEAFSNAP app!!! It identifies trees by the leaf using your iPhone…

11 | Lorrie Douthwright

June 24th, 2011 at 2:24 pm


ding, ding, ding! Dave is the winner! Googled catalpa tree & that’s it. Thanks!

12 | DaniGirl

June 24th, 2011 at 2:50 pm


Oh, that link to the LeafSnap app is priceless! Was going to spend a day this summer with the boys learning more about the trees in our ‘hood — perfect!! :)

13 | Alison Fowler

July 10th, 2011 at 8:47 am


I checked out your map Andrea. I was going to add a burr oak to it but I see it is out of your boundaries. There are some of Ottawa’s oldest oaks in Champlain Park. My neighbour across the street from me has their house built around one. If you’re on my street, check out 169 Patricia Ave. This oak is said to be over 200 years old. It’s truly breathtaking.

14 | andrea

July 11th, 2011 at 7:43 am


Alison – by all means, add it! My boundaries are arbitrary, really only to show a general outline of our neighborhood. We are more than willing to trek out and see your oaks! :)

15 | susan jolliffe

August 16th, 2011 at 8:07 am


Fabulous idea! My friends and I have been passing by the trees along the Ottawa River shoreline between Westboro Beach and the Champlain Bridge every day for 20 years. We came to the same realization, as you did, that while we enjoyed their beauty we really didn’t know what kind half of them were! We are trying to remedy that and I am now obsessed with drawing them…

16 | UsedEverywhere | Planning a fun, kid-friendly summer - UsedEverywhere

February 21st, 2014 at 4:03 pm


[…] continue our tree hunt/neighborhood leaf collection […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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