Crown on the ground • Animal shelters • Bird magnet (A4.9)
Look downslope towards the pond to see a female ash-leaved maple that was cleared of a very dense cover of Asian bittersweet in January 2021. Resilience in plant growth is evident in how the branches now resume the shape of a crown at ground level as they continue vertical growth from a broken stem.
Just beyond the ash-leaved maple, at the southern end of the pond, is a substantial patch of common buttonbush on seasonally flooded substrate. These shrubs only became apparent after climbers were removed from the adjacent ash-leaved maple.
The pulled climbers were formed into brush piles. As the stems slowly decompose and return nutrients to the soil they also provide perch sites for birds, and shelters for small mammals.
The surrounding Norway maples grew quickly from saplings with smooth light bark into large trees. The adult bark is marked by even grooves that are thin and occasionally wavy in unison. The elongated branches overhead are brittle and are vulnerable to strong winds. Because broken crowns open up the canopy, this particular spot is a great vantage point for birdwatching. Woodpeckers and nuthatches forage for insects in decomposing bark and wood, and leafy shrubs attract birds that glean foliage insects.