20 Tree Questions




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bulletQuiet Indoor or Camp Fire Tree Game 
bullet Requires Two Leaders

Before trying this game read the preceding Game of Twenty Questions.

As he leaves the group the questioner might say, "While I am out of hearing select a tree. I'll try to name it by asking no more than twenty questions. If I ask more than twenty, you win. Select a tree and discuss it with your leader, and when you're ready, call me."


The Discussion

Before the tree is selected the leader tells the Scouts to answer all questions by saying, "Yes, no, or I don't know."

The players will listen attentively and will take time to discuss the tree when they learn that every time they answer incorrectly or give an "I don't know," answer that question will not count against the questioner.


Questioner May Use Book

The Questioner asks questions somewhat as indicated in the key questions below, which cover many broad-leaved trees. The wise leader keeps the Scouts in suspense and tries to use all of his twenty questions to determine the tree.


Key Questions

1. Is the tree exogenous? Players invariably laugh at this question and answer, "I don't know." The Questioner might say, "Trees, such as palms, that grow end on end are endogenous, while the others are exogenous which is from the Latin, meaning outside growing. Such trees put on an outside layer every year, and that is why you can tell their age by counting their annual rings."

2. Is it common around here? The Questioner might appear to be talking to himself and say, "I wonder whether it is very common around here. The common trees I think of are..." Here it would be better for him to hold back from mentioning all the common trees, leaving some for Scouts to name before he puts the definite question to one of the players.

3. Is it an evergreen? If the answer is "Yes," arriving at the solution should be quite easy, but it requires questions different from those which follow.

4. Will it be at least twenty-five to thirty feet tall when full grown? Before putting this question mention some trees less than thirty feet tall.

5. Does it bear fruit edible by man? This classification includes cultivated fruit trees, nut trees, white oaks (sweet acorns), crab apple, wild cherry, wild plum, hackberry, haw, mulberry, papaw, service berry, sweet viburnum, shad bush, etc.

6. Are its leaves simple? Leader should show and describe samples of simple and compound leaves before putting the question.

7. Are its leaves opposite growing on the branch? Show samples and name the opposite simple-leaved trees, including maples, catalpa, flowering dogwood, viburnum, black haw, pomegranate. Common trees with compound opposite leaves include the ashes, box elder, buckeye, horse chestnut.

8. Are its leaves entire with smooth edges? Show lobed and entire leaves. Following are entire without serrate (saw tooth) edges: catalpa, dogwoods, viburnum, black gum, red bud, persimmon, laurel, pawpaw, tupelo, magnolia, sourwood, buckthorn, red bay, osage orange, live oak, laurel oak, willow-oak

9. Do the leaves have oblique (lopsided) bases? Show leaves, including elms, basswood, hornbeam and some oaks.

10. Does it bear flowers growing in drooping catkins? Show and explain - alders, sapens, birches, black walnut, butternut, cottonwoods, hazelnut, hickories, hornbeams, oaks, poplars, willows.

11. Can you buy lumber from the tree in the lumberyard? Name some lumbers found in local yards and get Scout to name others.

12. Does the wood produce good cooking coals? Apple, aspen, white ash, beech, yellow birch, cedar, elm, eucalyptus, hickory, ironwood, hard maple, mesquite, and most oaks produce desirable cooking coals.

13. Is its green wood good for cooking? The following are satisfactory if cut fine: cherry, chestnut, red elm" locust, maple, sycamore, hickory, ash, beech.

14. Will its wood produce a, glowing ember for making fire by rubbing sticks? American elm, red elm, balsam fir, red cedar, cypress, basswood, sycamore, cottonwood, poplar, soft maple, and white pine will produce an ember.

By this time the questioner will have a rather definite idea of what the tree is so that he can frame his remaining questions to clinch the answer on his twentieth question.


You will realize, of course, that this is a Scout Way for instructors, though you may hesitate to use it because you consider your knowledge of trees too limited. If so, get some one familiar with trees to read the description of the game and then try it.

Boy Scout Games






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Tree ID Contest ] Cross Fire Leaf Quiz ] Tree Identification Hike ] Matching Leaves ] Tree Hunt ] Guess My Name ] 20 Questions Game ] [ 20 Tree Questions ] Second Life Tree Sock Ball ] Wild Edible Plant Naming ] Patrol Flash Nature Review ] Nature Go Down Review ] Service Project Contest ] Nature Projects ] Nature Treasure Hunt ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.