Deciduous Forest Plants

"Trees, by virtue of their universal presence, majestic yet human scale, bridging the gap between earth and air, are the rightful symbols of all which humankind aspires to in its relationship with the planet."

-Oscar Beck
 
Plants in the Temperate deciduous forests adjust their growth and activity to the seasons of the year. In spring, lilies, spring beauties and other low-growing wildflowers emerge. Once the tree leaves are out and shade the forest floor, many of these plants' leaves wither and die, leaving the plants' roots or bulbs alive underground, ready to grow next year. In summer large-leafed plants adapted to low light conditions, because of the shade from the trees' leaves, grow. In fall, plants undergo a process called hardening, which prepares them for the winter. Below are pictures and interesting facts about the plantlife found in the TDF.  
 
Oak Tree
Oak Trees - the oak trees in Sherwood Forest in Great Britain are 500 years old! Oaks can grow to a height of 120 feet! Acorns are the fruits of the oak tree. Oak trees produce lots of acorns every 3-4 years. Squirrels like eating them and they bury some. Seedlings grow from the buried acorns the following spring.
 
Oxlips
Eglantine - a very hardy shrub that can get quite big, possibly up to 10 feet tall. It blooms just once, with single pink flowers about 1.5 to 2 inches across. The foliage emits a nice apple fragrance, especially when rubbed. In the fall, Eglantine puts on a nice show with lots of bright red leaves.
 
Birch trees
Birch Trees - can grow to a height of 40 feet. The bark of the tree peels as it ages. Birches are typical "pioneer" trees, able to invade and colonise bare land successfully. Birch trees are wind pollinated
 
Dogwood
Flowering Dogwood - the dogwood flowers in early spring. It can grow to a height of 20-30 feet. It's leaves are typically 6-12 inches in diameter and turn brilliant red, orange and scarlet in the fall of the year. It bears clusters of red fruit in the winter.
 
Red Maple Tree
Red Maple Tree - this tree grows everywhere from the organic muck of shallow fresh water swamps to the rocky quartzite slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. This tree's small, numerous red flowers bloom in the early spring, before the leaves come out. The leaves are 3 or 5 lobed, red stemmed, and vary from 2 to 5 inches long.
 
Hemlock
Eastern Hemlock - hemlocks in the northeast are being attacked by the Wolly adelgid, an Asian sap-sucking insect that is usually fatal to the trees, especially those individuals that are growing in shady onditions. The hemlock is a conifer with short needles, usually less than an inch long, that grow in two rows on each side of the branch.
 
Tulip Tree
Tulip Tree - the Tulip tree is the tallest hardwood in the eastern forests of North America. Often between 100 and 200 feet in height at maturity, this tree grows rapidly, sometimes over 6 feet a year! It is actually in the magnolia family, and it bears large, bee-pollinated tulip-like 6 petal yellow, green, and orange flowers in the late spring. Tuliptree leaves are 4-6 inches long, about as wide, 4 lobed, and bilaterally symmetric. They are the only 4 lobed symmetric leaves in the eastern forests.
 
Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel - Witch hazel is a tree with branches that are very flexible -- so springy, in fact, that American Indians used them to make bows! Despite its name, witch hazel has nothing to do with witchcraft. In medieval English, witch was spelled wych, and it meant flexible.
 
Beech Tree
Beech Trees - the beech casts some of the darkest shade in the forest, and very few other trees grow under it. The beech tree is most easily identified by its bark. The bark is light colored, and very smooth, as this tree never develops furrows. The leaves are fairly small, toothed, with veins terminating in teeth. There are no lobes on the leaves, which turn yellow in the fall. The nuts, which fall before the leaves turn, are small, triangular shaped, and edible!
 
Sugar Maple Tree
Sugar Maple Trees - in the fall, the sugar maple becomes the most colorful tree in the forest. The fall foliage is usually orange or red, and the whole tree generally turns at once. This is the tree whose sap is used to produce maple syrup.
 

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