Woodland Forest: Trees   Leave a comment

Woodland Trees:


Aceracea (Maple Family)


Acer rubrum (Maple, Red or Swamp)




Red maple can reach a height of about 25 meters; however they are much shorter on the heath. The deciduous leaves are opposite and lobed (3-5) with a green upper surface and a whitish lower surface. The petioles (Leaf Stalks), buds and terminal twigs are reddish. White-tailed deer feed on leaves, twigs, flowers, and small plants; bark is consumed by elk and moose. Maple sugar can be made from red maple sap. Tea made by steeping strips of inner bark in hot water, has been used to treat diarrhea and coughs.



Betulaceae (Birch Family)


Alnus rugosa (Alder, Speckled)





Speckled alder can grow as high as 25 meters, and is found in wet environments throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It can be a dominant presence in wet parts of the forest. The characteristic, somewhat oval, leaves are wrinkled with prominent leaf veins. The upper leaf surface is dark green and lighter underneath. The lower leaf surface is covered with fine hairs. Leaves are simple with double serrated (Toothed) edges. The bark is dotted with white lenticels. Early in the season some of the branches bear male and female catkins. The female catkin forms a small cone (woody fruit) that houses small, winged, nuts. Stems that touch the wet ground develop new roots that extend downward. Numerous new stems can arise from underground roots forming thickets. The thickets give protective cover for birds and mammals. Alder roots have many rounded nodules that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The bacteria give nitrogen to the host and in turn receive nourishment from the host. The network of stems and roots help stabilize the wet woodland surface. Native Americans used a solution made from the inner bark as an astringent, emetic and laxative as well as for other ailments. Native Americans and settlers used tannin from alder bark to tan animal hides.



1. Increased numbers of offspring. New stems arise asexually from underground roots and eventually form branches and leaves. How does this process help this species to survive?
2. Symbiotic association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Root nodules harbor symbiotic , nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Fixed nitrogen can be shared with its host. Why is nitrogen important to the well-being of living organisms?


Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)



Cornus stolonifera (Dogwood or Red Osier)


Red Osier is a thicket forming dogwood characterized by its red stems and branches. The oval to elliptical, smooth, leaves are about 5 cm long and are arranged opposite one another on the stem. The white flowers are arranged in flat terminal clusters. The resultant fruit (Drupes) are white to slightly bluish. The branches have been used for a variety of purposes by native Americans, such as weaving baskets and making bows and arrows . The leaves and inner bark were smoked by certain Indian groups in sacred pipe ceremonies and concoctions made from leaves have been used for the treatment of a variety of afflictions such as poison ivy and headaches. The fruit is consumed by a variety of birds and mammals.



 Oleaceae (Olive Family)


Fraxinus nigra (Ash, Black)




This species is a small, long-lived tree reaching a height of about 16 meters. Compound leaves, arranged opposite each other, are made up of 7-11 leaflets, and attach directly to the stem (no stalks). The tree can reproduce asexually by sprouting branches from roots or stumps. Fire can destroy the above ground biomass, but the tree can sprout new branches from surviving roots. Black Ash seeds are consumed by a variety of birds. Bark strips were used by North American Indians to weave baskets and sometimes to cover their homes. Colonial settlers used bark strips to cane chairs and the wood to fashion oars and barrel hoops as well as for other purposes. Tea, made from inner bark tissue, was used for a variety of ailments including constipation and fever. It has also been used as a diuretic and as an eyewash.



1. Increased light absorption. The compound leaves (7-11 leaflets) provide a large amount of surface area to trap light used in the photosynthetic process. How is light used in photosynthesis? Why is photosynthesis important to our well being?
2. Increased number of offspring. Asexual reproduction, described above, quickly increases the number of plants. Does an increase in plant number translate into an increased survival rate for the species? Is there any downside to the process of asexual reproduction?



Pinaceae (Pine Family)


Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir or Canada Balsam)






The balsam fir can reach a height of about 16 meters. The flat evergreen needles (2 rows) extend from twigs at right angles. The needles are dark green on the upper surface and bear two white bands from base to tip on their lower surface. This species has been used to make wreaths and as a traditional Christmas tree because of its symmetrical shape and aromatic smell. It is also harvested for lumber (paneling, etc.) and as pulpwood used to manufacture paper. The foliage is a staple of deer and moose. Tree resin (Gum) was used as a salve by native Americans to treat cuts and sores and taken internally to alleviate the symptoms associated with colds and asthma. I used tree resin to seal microscope slides as a graduate student.



Picea rubens (Spruce, Red)





Red spruce is a tall tree with evergreen needles that are 4 sided and sharply pointed. The needles arise from all sides of the twig. Red spruce provides protective cover and food (twigs, buds and seeds) for a number of birds and mammals. It is sometimes used as a Christmas tree although the needles tend to fall off quickly. The wood is used in furniture construction and as pulpwood in the paper manufacturing industry. Tea made by steeping needles in hot water was used by native Americans to help alleviate cold symptoms.



Pinus strobus (Pine, White or Eastern)








White pine is one of the tallest pines sometimes exceeding 30 meters in height; however it is much shorter on the heath. It has a relatively straight trunk and a crown of vegetation. In colonial times ships’ masts and booms were fashioned from white pine because of this characteristic. A row of branches is added each year to the crown. Evergreen, blue-green needles, about 10 cm long , are arranged in bundles, 5 each. The thick bark is grayish.Cylindrical cones, about 15 cm long, change in color from greenish to brown as they mature. White pine has been harvested for pulp wood in the paper making industry and fashioned into lumber. In addition turpentine was extracted from the tree by colonists. Tea prepared by boiling bark has been used as a remedy for sore throats, coughs, and colds in general. Tea made from boiled needles is said to be high in vitamin C. A significant number of birds and mammals eat pine seeds.



1. Fast upward growth. White pines exhibit fast upward growth and intercept light with a “terminal” crown of branches, often out-competing slower growing or shorter plants for precious light. Why is light important?
2. Allelopathy. Fallen needles tend to accumulate around the bases of pine trees, creating an acidic environment as they decompose. This inhibits the germination and growth of some plant species. How does this help pines?



Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock, Eastern)







Eastern Hemlock is a tall evergreen tree that can easily be identified by the structure and arrangement of its needles. The lower side of the flat needles are grooved and have two white longitudinal stripes. The needles are arranged in two opposing rows (on opposite sides of the twig). Hemlock forests serve as protective cover for a variety of wildlife. Tannin, used to tan leather, was commercially extracted from hemlock bark. The inner bark was the main ingredient used by American Indians to make soups and bread. Tea made by steeping young needles in hot water was consumed by American Indians and settlers to alleviate  cold symptoms. The high levels of vitamin C no doubt helped to prevent scurvy.



Rosaceae (Rose Family)


Sorbus americana (Mountain-Ash, American)






This species, common in Eastern coastal bogs ( Eagle Hill and West Quoddy Head) , grows as a small tree reaching a height of 8 meters or more. It is much shorter in the forest near the heath. The alternate leaves are pinnately compound. Lance-shaped, light green, toothed leaflets (11-17) are about 8 cm long. Rose-like flowers are white. The bright red fruit is about 0.6 cm in diameter. Tea steeped from ripe fruit is high in vitamin C and may have played a role in preventing scurvy in human populations. Tea made from the inner bark was used by native Americans to treat a number of ailments such as the common cold and diarrhea. The foliage is a favorite of deer and moose and the fruit is eaten by many species of birds and mammals. Tea made from buds or the inner bark has been used to treat cold symptoms.



Posted February 4, 2011 by zottoli

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