Urban woodlands as “melting pots”, as it relates to Forest Aesthetics   Steve Galehouse
  Feb 12, 2007 11:30 PST 


    Yesterday I measured a few trees in a small, heavily wooded
municipal park in Rocky River, Ohio---perhaps 20 acres surrounded by
homes, condos, a water treatment plant, and a railroad line. Found a
nice tuilptree at 119.5’, a cucumber magnolia at 103’, beeches and sugar
maples in the same height range, and also a black locust at 112’, part
of a fairly extensive stand of black locusts that are definitely
tree-like with long continuous boles. Also in the canopy layer was a
white birch, probably B. pendula. The understory included American
holly, Japanese holly and Euonymus fortunei as a climber. The black
locust and American holly, while native to parts of Ohio, are not native
to the Lake Erie plain, and of course the birch, Euonymus and other
holly aren’t either, but are adventive in this woods.
    In another nearby woods, which I have mentioned in previous posts,
similarly surrounded by development, mazzard cherry, Norway maple, river
birch and Scots pine are growing adventively as part of the canopy;
along with Japanese holly, Japanese honeysuckle, Euonymus alatus, and
Viburnum trilobum in the understory. These non-native species are
growing in unison with the native maples, oaks, cherries, hickories,
ashes etc. and look right at home.
    In the past I’ve considered these alien species of trees and shrubs
with some derision, feeling that they’ve “corrupted” the woods where
they’re found, but in actuality we humans have altered some woodlands
near urban areas to the point where the aliens can compete, escaping
from landscape plantings that surround these small wooded areas.
I think of these isolated woods, encircled by development, to be
analogous to the population of a city, and the alien plants as “ethnic”
segments of the population, which in the long run enrich the city (woods)
as a whole (perhaps more of a grand stew, rather than a melting pot?).
    I now enjoy seeing Scots pine growing along with red maple, and
Japanese holly alongside deerberry, and Japanese honeysuckle intertwined
with greenbrier---------for these limited, urban pockets of woods, at

Steve Galehouse
Back to Steve   Robert Leverett
  Feb 12, 2007 12:45 PST 


   I think many of us share your perspective. We have come to accept
certain invasives as "naturalized citizens". I'm very comfortable with
European beech, English oak, Siberian elm, and Norway spruce as
constituents of urban forests. On Sunday, Gary Berluzo and I measured a
beautiful Norway spruce - a fairly old one. It measures 9.7 feet in
circumference and just tops 112 feet. I looked at the tree and gave it
an approving nod, seeing it as an asset to the community. I'm less
charitable toward Ailanthus altissma, but given its tolerance of
pollution, I can see a legitimate role for it.

   In terms of native eastern species that are a bit out of their range,
black locust is not a New England native, but it is widely distributed
and seems to fit a niche. I find their slightly tropical savanna look

   The subject is an interesting one. Some of us have toyed with the
idea of being more inclusive of at least some of the alien species that
we tend to complain about since they are here to stay. Norway maple
comes immediately to mind. Most Scots pine I see in New England is
pretty mediocre stuff. Over here it seems to be a very different tree
from what it is in Europe.   


Re: Urban woodlands    Kirk Johnson
  Feb 12, 2007 15:46 PST 

I like Scotch pine and Norway spruce myself even if they're not native. It
doesn't bother me to see these two species become sort of naturalized in
locations, they don't seem to be invasive. Plus with the continuing loss of
hemlock in the northeast we need all the evergreens we can get. These two
seem to fit in pretty good.

Now, the non-native invasive vines like porcelain berry, kudzu, bittersweet,
etc. are a nightmare.  Scotch pine and Norway spruce strike me as relatively 
ecologically "appropriate" to the landscape in the northeast, even if they aren't

Kirk Johnson
Re: Urban woodlands as "melting pots"   Don Bertolette
  Feb 13, 2007 19:47 PST 


I guess that
I'd only find the Scotch pines and Norway spruce 'ecologically' appropriate
in those parts of the northeastern landscapes that have been too far removed
from their 'heritage' to re-align with their prior 'trajectory'...sort of
like place-savers until some kind of seral trajectory is re-established.