Saturday, May 22, 2021

Disadvantaged Woody Species Find a Home in the Barden

A post at the PrincetonNatureNotes blog tells the story of disadvantaged woody species that are finding a place to thrive in the botanical art garden (nicknamed the Barden) at Herrontown Woods. By disadvantaged, we mean species that once prospered but have in our era been laid low, whether by heavy shade, excessive deer browsing, or introduced disease. 

Active human intervention can compensate for these forces of suppression by giving these species the sunlight and deer protection they need to show their true natures. 

The native pinkster azalea in the photo, bearing more flowers than any azalea in the preserve has managed in decades, is one of the showier examples. Other native species finding a home in this forest clearing are hazelnut, hearts-a-bustin', pawpaw, shadbush, pagoda dogwood, persimmon, American chestnut, butternut, and, most recently, Kentucky coffee tree. The latter is disadvantaged because the megafauna that once spread its seeds went extinct about 15,000 years ago.