Plant ID Tags

Attaching Plant ID Tags To Trees

If you are managing a large inventory of trees, you may have an identification system in place that you use to keep your notes organized. We have seen hand-drawn maps, descriptions of how many feet a tree is away from a fixed object and many other systems to locate a specific tree.

One way we keep track of trees is by attaching a Plants Map tag on one of the lower, small branches of the tree. This is often referred to as an accession tag or a branch tag.

I wanted to share the solution we came up with to actually do the attachment of the tag to the tree. The best recommendation we received during our research was to make a large loop with a piece of 14 gauge wire so that as the branch grew, the wire wouldn’t harm the branch. We tried that method and it works pretty good but our concern was that anyone could easily just pull on the tag and the wire would untwist itself and the tag would be gone.

We found another solution that we like and we are testing now. I call them ski ties. Two of these ski ties are in the photo above. These are the plastic ties that ski resorts use to put passes on the zipper of a ski jacket so that one person can’t give their tag to someone else unless they switch jackets.

They don’t break. You would have to cut them to remove them once they are locked.

The length of the ski tag that we include with Plants Map tag orders where the person doesn’t also purchase a stake is about 5 inches long. The diameter of the circle created when it is locked is about 2 inches.

We’ve been told that this material should easily last 5 years outdoors, but if it was attached to my tree, I would check it every couple of years and replace it if needed.

So, if you have trees that have small, lower branches and you aren’t really concerned about the public using these tags for information and you only want to use it for your own record-keeping on a specific tree, this way of attaching a tag might just be the trick. We are using it in an urban tree project and in a community arboretum and they seem to work really well and solve our problem of not wanting to hurt the tree and deterring theft of the tags.

If you use accession or branch tags in your trees, please share your ideas on how you have solved the attachment problem and we’ll add to this post.