How to Write with Trees

When I first learned that there was a tree alphabet, I was intrigued. I knew about the Elvish alphabet but a tree alphabet? Surely, I had read wrong. Not at all. Somebody has created a real tree alphabet based on common trees in the part of the world where she lives. The best part is, she’s made the alphabet available freely to everybody. On this image, I’ve written “, Inspiring Outdoor Families.”

How to write in tree

Here is how to write with trees.

Katie Holten

Katie Holten defines herself as a visual artist and resistance fighter based in NYC and working in the world. Her bio is, indeed, very cosmopolitan. She grew up in Ireland and studied Fine Art and History of Art at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin, Cornell University in New York and Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.

Like many artists, she works on what connects humans and nature and that is how she created the New York City Tree Alphabet.

New York City Tree Alphabet

How many trees can you ID on the street? Even if you don’t know their names, you will know that tree species vary on many factors, including climate, latitude, soil type or terrain. Living in New York City, Katie Holten started with her immediate surroundings.

Challenge > Would you be able to name a tree in your city for each letter of the alphabet?

Katie Holten found a tree to illustrate each letter of the alphabet in New York City.

A is for Ash

B is for Birch

C is for Crabapple

And so forth.

How to write in tree

How to Write with Trees

Since drawing a tree is a matter for experts, Katie Holden created a website where everybody can write with trees. It doesn’t mean that everybody can read trees but writing is a good start.


It’s a simple page with a blank box. Type anything on your keyboard and it will be translated instantaneously in trees of the New York City kind. Nifty, eh?

London Tree Alphabet

As you can see, the project lends itself to local adaptations and I started a London tree alphabet but some letters are proving to be a challenge. I’ve italicized them below in case you can help.

A is for Ash

B is for Birch

C is for Chestnut

D is for Dogwood

E is for Elder

F is for Fir

H is for Hawthorne

G is for Guelder Rose

I is for ?

J is for Juniper

K is for ?

L is for Lime

M is for Maple

N is for ?

O is for Oak

P is for Pine

Q is for Quercus Cerris (it’s a type of oak)

R is for Rowan

S is for Spindle

T is for ?

U is for Ulmus Glabra (it’s a type of Elm)

V is for ?

W is for Willow

X is for ?

Y is for Yew

Z is for ?

I’m stuck!!! If you have any suggestions to fill the gaps, please feel free to add them in comments below.

On that note.

Happy tree writing everyone!

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Laure Latham

Laure is an author, environmental advocate, blogger, open water swimmer and now mother. She's passionate about inspiring families to enjoy the outdoors with their children, learning to unplug and living a healthy lifestyle, giving kids life skills and exploring the world around us sharing Family Friendly, Fun Ideas for the whole family on Frog Mom.

2 Responses to “How to Write with Trees”

  1. Steph says:

    That is beautiful!
    I for Ilex? Or is that considered a shrub? There is one in Golden Gate park that is tree sized.

  2. Laure Latham says:

    Oooh, Ilex. I like that and even if it’s a big shrub, it’s not like we’re snowed under I-named trees. Well done, Steph!


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