Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What is a 신갈나무?

On my way to work, I pass through a small park to get to the subway. Today, while walking through the park, I saw a tree labeled as 신갈나무. Since I have become interested in trees lately, I picked off a leaf and brought it to school with me. At school, I looked up 신갈나무 and found that it means "Mongolian Oak."

In class, I asked my students if they had heard of 신갈나무, but none of them had. I then asked them if they had heard of 참나무, and all of them had. Actually, 참나무 is not any particular tree; it is a genus name, but Koreans usually use it to refer to at least six species of oak. In other words, a Korean would probably look at a 신갈나무 and call it a 참나무.

According to Forest Korea, there are essentially six kinds of oak that Koreans commonly refer to as 참나무:

Seven Korean Trees You Definitely Need to Know

  • 소나무 (pine) Koreans love their shape and needles.
  • 참나무 (oak) Koreans love their acorns (도토리).
  • 은행나무 (ginkgo) Koreans love their leaves on sidewalks.
  • 느티나무 (zelkova) Koreans love their shade.
  • 밤나무 (chestnut) Koreans love their nuts.
  • 벚나무 (cherry) Koreans love their blossoms.
  • 버들 (willow) Koreans love their buds (버들눈).

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