This is the back side of my property. This is a forest about 80-100 years in the making. The hardwood forest is typical for a swampy area of the Midwestern US. Hickory, maple, beech, and oak make a large canopy averaging about 60 feet above the ground. High above Coopers Hawks, Red Tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, and little Saw Whet Owls nest and patrol the woods. Where the woods open to savanna with high grass,and shrubs they hunt for song birds, mice, squirrels, and anything small enough to pick up.
The sounds come alive after about five minutes. My wild turkey lives back here with deer, red fox, coyotes, and probably a mink or two.
The lower left is a Son of a Beech! The big smooth grey barked trees are Beech trees. They are sixty to eight feet tall. They drop branches in storms easily. But the openings in the trunk are ideal for an owl to crave out a nest. Woodpeckers can try small one but often get kicked out. The Beech is softer wood and fast growing. Common for populating reclaimed farmland.
This is a Sassafras Tree. The leaves look like gloves. Some are right and left, a few are double thumbed. Another soft wood, but we have a surprise here. If you break a branch it smells like root beer! Well that’s what its used for in traditional formulas. This is another 50-60 foot tree. They are self seeding, but never take over. Smaller birds will nest in the branches, their large clustered leaves hide them well.
The Green Ash used to be the most common tree here. It spreads easily. The wood is great for firewood. It grows at a moderate rate so it can quickly establish a barrier or reclaim land. There’s only one problem. The Emerald Ash Borer from China is decimating them. We have lost a dozen full size trees in a year. It’s graceful compound leaves (they cluster on the tips of branches) wave in the breezes.
On the edge of the woods, the Swamp Willow with it’s silvery leaves is a super hardy tree. The original tree fell over in a storm. One of the branches fell into the ground sinking a couple feet in to the mud. Two week later, we have a tree that grow roots and two months later spread out new branches. The biggest this guy will get is about 30 feet tall, maybe this one will be 20 feet wide. It anchors the savanna, the transition from forest to field.
The Thicket Service berry is an awesome shrub for the savanna area too. It requires water. That’s about it. This baby is old. It has more than thirty stalks, or trunks making it a shrub. It will have red berries in August in years that frost doesn’t get the blooms! I’m not sure if I will have any for the birds.
Lost on the little green, but centered with two trunks is a Hawthorne Tree. These are Arbor Day Foundation Trees. That means a paid $10 for 10 trees and eight years later, this is the only living tree left! Hawthorne Trees have beautiful orange berries that Cedar Wax Wings, Cardinals, and Grossebeaks go crazy over. The tree also has three inch thorns! Apparently, the tree must be tasty…nature doesn’t add defenses without reason. On its own, and your suburb may use these on tree lawns, it’s 15 feet tall and a column build to it. Nice light colored leaves add detail to lsndscape.