Sampling Instructions 

What you need: 

Hand trowel (for digging up roots)

Sharpie (for labeling)

Paper towels or rag (for cleaning shovel in between samples)

Plastic sandwich bags (for sample collection in field)

Camera (this is optional and a cell phone camera will work fine!)


Labels for sandwich bags and photos

*Make sure your sample sandwich bags and pictures have the same label. 

Location or City, State Zip code or GPS location 
Tree # 


Rick Lankau 
July 12, 2015 
Madison, Wi 
White Oak #1 

Sampling instructions:

View this sampling video with Rick

PDF of sampling procedure with tree identification 

1. Go to a forested area close to you and look for individuals of the target tree species in your area with green leaves. To look for tree species in your area, under the tree species tab for distributions of individual species. Refer here for tips on how to identify the different tree species. Not sure about the identification. That's OK! We will be able to identify tree species from DNA barcodes and/or the leaves and pictures you submit. Smaller trees may be easier to sample from, but larger trees can be used as well. 

2. Once you have found a tree on the list you are interested in sampling, take a picture of the tree for identification purposes. Make sure to label the picture and it's sample with the same identifier. If you can collect the leaves of the tree, place a couple of them into you labeled sandwich bag. 

3. For larger tree, you need to move about a yard from the base of the tree to sample roots. This is not as important for small trees, as you may be able to sample closer to the base of the tree. Use your hand trowel to make a hole that is about as deep and wide as the length of the blade of your trowel. Can't go that deep. That's OK! Go as deep as you can. 

4. Remove the soil from this hole, pick out the roots and place them in a labeled sandwich bag. If you can't find fine roots move to another hole for sampling. The roots do not need to be free of soil, just shake off the majority of the soil. Grab a small handful of soil from your hole and throw it into your bag. 

5. Wipe the soil off your hand trowel and you are ready to sample another tree. 

You can use the above protocol to sample up to 5 individuals from each of the listed tree species. Please do not feel like you have to sample that many individuals or from all of the tree species. We very much appreciate whatever you are able to do! 

6. Once you have completed your sample(s), drop off samples at you local UPS office. We will pay for shipping. Please email Cassandra to: 1. gain access to our UPS account number and 2. email photos. We need samples shipped within 2-3 days of collection. If you don't send samples right away, please store in refrigerator. 

Lankau Lab 
391 Russell Labs Building 
1630 Linden Dr. 
Madison, Wi 53706 

Additional online resources for tree identification:

What tree is that? Online interactive guide to identification of trees. ( Get the app for iPhone.