Natural Community: Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest
Created by Abby Cox, Explore Natural Communities Intern Summer 2015, NatureServe.
Sounds: Bee, and Hummingbird, both recorded by nps.gov (soundbible.com); Rainforest Ambience, recorded by GlorySunz (soundbible.com). Public Domain.
Music: Easy Lemon, by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0
Photo: Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest in Melvin Hazen Valley, by Erin Lunsford Jones, courtesy of NatureServe. Licensed under Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0
Podcast time: 1:22 minutes
Lush greenery and biodiversity as far as the eye can see. Deep, fertile soil and wildflowers dotting the hills. You must be in the Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest in spring!
The rich, moist soil along the ravines and lower parts of slopes host a large variety of vegetation, including the majestic tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), straight and tall. The tuliptree, also called tulip poplar, is a special part of this natural community, valued for its timber and nectar prized by bees and hummingbirds. Make sure to take the time to see if you can spot a tuliptree. Some people might say their unusual leaves look a bit like the outline of a tulip flower or even a crown! Just remember that the Park asks you to stay on the trail!
Beneath your feet is more than just dirt. The soil here hosts nutrients and water, and provides a good home for many plants. It is packed with basic elements like calcium, making it super nutritious for trees in this community like the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and red oak (Quercus rubra).
You'll see a greater diversity of native plants here in the spring than in almost any other natural community at Rock Creek Park. From the forest floor with ferns and wildflowers to the canopy filled with trees like red oak and tuliptree, the Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest is a feast for the eyes.