Tree Inventory


Ken Rhinehart decided that a tree inventory needs to be done for the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. He has the help of his ESC 302 class to accomplish this major task. The advantages are manifold:

  • It is good exercise for everyone to develop skills in tree species identification.

  • Some of the species provide challenges for even botanists to identify.

  • Arborists caring for the trees can keep a record of work done on a specific tree.

  • Leaf collectors are overjoyed when knowing the exact whereabouts of different tree species.

  • It is good exercise in developing mapping and GPS skills by using this tree inventory.

  • Trees are special, especially in urban areas.

One of the quests in developing this tree inventory map is to use freely available software. It resulted in the author having to split the number of species into different files, but the author tried to arrange the material so that very few if any disadvantages result from this effort. Because there are so many oaks, a different file for them was produced even though they could be part of the angiosperm file, so keep in mind that the author knows that oaks are angiosperms.

The following image is taken from Google Earth. Each balloon represents a tree found in the Historic District of the University of Southern Mississippi. By copying a network link below on this webpage and uploading it into Google Earth, one can view each species one by one for greater clarity.

Map of Southern Miss Historic District Trees

Procedure for Seeing Tree Inventory on Google Earth

1. To see the tree inventory of the Southern Miss Historic District on your Google Earth, copy the network link found below on this webpage associated with the tree inventory. Go to Google Earth on your computer. If Google Earth is not already on your computer, one can go to and download Google Earth. It is free. When Google Earth is open, click Add in the upper left and then click on Network Link. When the Network Link box opens, paste the network link for the tree inventory in the box next to Link. Also, for a name, one can simply put Tree Inventory-Historic District. After doing that, click OK at the bottom of the box. One will now see the name of the network link in the My Places section in the Google Earth menu on the left.

2. To see the tree inventory, click the triangle next to the name of the tree inventory in the My Places section. The four folders that represent four different categories of trees will be seen. It will look like the example below:



> historic_native-angiosperm

> historic_native-coniferous

> historic_native-oaks

> historic_non-natives

Now, click in the empty box at the top left. A green check mark will show that the file is activated, and green check marks will be seen in the boxes next to all the folders. Once activated, you will see the folders show symbols of movement as Google Earth reads the tree inventory files which are in the so-called cloud. Look on the Google Earth screen, balloons (i.e. icons) that represent the trees in Southern Miss' historic district will come into view.

3. With all the trees in view, it appears to be cluttered. To see one species at a time, click the top box with the green check mark to remove all the check marks from the folders. The trees will disappear from view. Make sure all the green check marks are gone. Now, click the folder-opening triangle next to the historic_native-oak folder. The individual oak species will be listed in view. To make, for example, just the overcup oaks in the historic district come into view, click the empty box to put a green check mark next to overcup oak. Make sure there are no green check marks anywhere but for overcup oaks. The two overcup oaks will be seen on the map.

One can expand and contract the folders to gain experience regarding how to move about the tree inventory and display what is wanted.

4. Clicking on an icon (i.e. balloon) will bring up more information regarding a particular tree species; for example, if one clicks on a balloon representing overcup oak, the Latin name for the species will be seen, and if one clicks in the balloon where it says "Read More", one will be taken to a webpage in which detailed information about that species is seen. After visiting the "Read More" section, don't forget to click on "Back to Google Earth" at the top of the Google Earth screen to go back to the map view.

5. The Pre-Tornado View: A tornado struck the front part of the Southern Miss historic district in February 2013. At least 75 trees were destroyed in the storm. The tree inventory map shows the trees present before the tornado.

Network Links for Google Earth

Tree Inventory

Keep in mind that this version is still in Beta form, so, if the results are not satisfactory for you, you can e-mail me at .


Primary thanks go to my ESC 302 students who took upon the challenge of identifying different tree species and working the data to make meaningful maps. The students were very professional, and so much was achieved. For help identifying some non-native species and also differentiating between domestic species with similar traits, Dr. Mike Davis of the Southern Miss Biology Department was essential. Mr. Sid Krhut of the Southern Miss Physical Plant helped me with species such as Japanese yew and zelkova. Dr. Cynthia Easterling of the Southern Miss Administration is always encouraging for work that leads to improvement and joy of the campus. Gratitude for making the inventory already appear valuable goes to arborist Mark Anderson for putting the inventory to work in keeping a record of work done on certain trees.