How to Recognize It
The Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest is by far the most common natural community in Rock Creek Park. If most of the other natural communities in Rock Creek Park occupy special environmental niches (highest, driest, steepest, richest, wettest, lowest), then the Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest occupies nearly everywhere else. You can recognize it by its canopy of oaks and American beech or tuliptree, and fairly open understory, generally without mountain laurel. You’ll find it on middle to lower slopes where the hillsides are gently to moderately sloping, and in shallow ravines. It grows in soils that are acidic, mesic (neither too wet nor too dry), and loamy (made mostly of clay, sand and silt with a little organic matter).
Can you find this combination of key features?
Identifying This Natural Community
- American beech, and/or oaks (white, black, northern red), tuliptree in the canopy
- Near-absence of mountain laurel
- Short, leggy shrubs of mapleleaf viburnum (dark fall berries)
- (Optional) American holly (with evergreen, sharp-toothed leaves)
- (Optional) Christmas fern (evergreen)
- Located on a rolling slope
If so, welcome to Rock Creek Park’s Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest!
Not sure? Check out the Tips to Distinguish (below), or the Compare Natural Communities tool.