Jesse Thompson, Land Agent and Forester with the Southeastern Land Group, led the April Walk and Talk to visit the upland hardwoods at McIntosh Reserve Park. As we hiked uphill along the back trail from the old ranger station, Jesse pointed out similar trees and helped us to differentiate among them. He gave us a bit of “bark id” to remember – MAD HorseCap (Maple, Ash, Dogwood, Horsechestnut and Caprifoliacea) have opposite or alternate branch tips. He demonstrated the chambered pith of a Black Gum twig as an example of how twig pith is used for identification clues. Using an available water oak, Jesse pointed out that shaded lower leaves may look quite different from leaves from the sunny tops of the same tree. Many features differentiate the oaks; one we enjoyed was the finger pointing profile of the southern red oak leaf. Jesse described some of the best uses for many of the trees we saw.
Among the trees highlighted for discussion included the black gum, persimmon, sassafras, horn-beam, the oaks (post, white, red, water, scarlet), black cherry (the largest of the native cherry trees), the maples (Florida, sugar), the hickory (pig nut, mockernut, bitternut), yellow poplar or tulip tree, and the sourwood. Though concentrating on the hardwoods, we also spent some time with the various pine trees on the hillside: the Virginia, Loblolly, shortleaf, and the long leaf.
With Ben DeMayo, we also stopped to view a fallen dead dogwood log, several high bush blueberries and a sprout of speargrass, which ended with spears boring into many of our jackets. We were also pleased to spot a tiny sprout of pipsissewa.
Jesse brought along some of his favorite references, including the Forest Service book entitled “Silvics of North America, Vol 2. Hardwoods”, and the Peterson Field Guide for Trees and Shrubs. Vtree, an app developed by Virginia Tech, is a useful on-line resource.
Please visit the Photos to view pictures of this event.