Trees are Terrific: Hidden Surprises in Tacony Creek Park

Doryán De Angel
Jul 21, 2015

We’ve been discovering Tacony Creek Park’s hidden surprises!

On the second Wednesday of each month at I St and Ramona Ave, friends and neighbors meet at the I Street and Ramona Avenue park gateway to walk and explore the trails of Tacony Creek Park along with environmental educator, Judith Gratz. These walks have been a great opportunity to not only enjoy the outdoors, but learn about plants and wildlife along the way, and meet new friends!


On July 8, the Summer Camp from the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory came along and we all learned about how trees are terrific!

Unlike humans and other animals, the special thing about trees is that they produce their own food, just by taking in sunlight and water from their surroundings. Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to feed ourselves just by standing in the sun?


Trees are also terrific because they give us oxygen — provide beauty — are important for erosion control — and provide shade, food and homes for birds, and us too!

During our walk, we took a close look at a piece of a Maple tree trunk using magnifying lenses and observed the different layers of wood that help trees grow. These layers move water and sugar from the roots to the leaves, and over time, growth rings develop, expanding outward. Every two rings is one year: you can tell how old trees are by counting the number of their growth rings!19700721208_54e21f048a_z

See more photos here!

After exploring the different layers in the leaves, we each chose a tree and identified it just by observing the type of leaf. With the use of a dichotomous key and understanding the difference between a compound leaf and a simple leaf, we determined that the tree we chose was a Catalpa.

Alexis McGowan, River Guide in Training, Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, shared her experience:

On the TTF walk I learned how to measure the height of a tree without climbing it. I also learned how to identify a tree with just the leaves. Along this nature walk there were wild berries called wine berries. I like the wine berries because they were very sweet. I learned what poison ivy looked like and I learned the five different layers of the leaves. Thanks to Judith for showing us around and teaching us different things. Judith has taught us a lot on this walk for our Community Row event.


Want to enjoy the outdoors and learn something new on the way? Join us at our next Nature’s Hidden Surprises on August 12 to explore the different critters that live in the water, and how we can help to improve water quality. Visit Upcoming Events and learn more about Tacony Creek Park.

To sign up, contact Doryán at or 215.744.1853

Hope to see you there!

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