All the Trees in our Woods

maple leaves

Tonight was a totally gorgeous night, so I took the time to take a slow walk around our property and see what trees are out there as part of my quest to record all the plants on our property. I feel pretty sheepish that I’ve never done this before in the six years that we’ve lived here. I’ve definitely been across most of the property, but I’ve never just done a lap at one time. It’s pretty nice, and with only 2.75 acres, it doesn’t take very long.

The Usual Suspects

We don’t have a whole lot of tree diversity on our property. It’s a small parcel with pretty sandy, nutrient poor soils (Munising and Munising-Yalmer sands to be exact, but more on that another day… ;)). We’re talking dry-mesic northern hardwoods with some bracken fern and plenty of club moss (that’s an Acer-Tsuga-Dryopteris habitat type for those of you keeping score at home). So, anyway, what that means is that most of the trees are one of these three species:

  • Red maple
  • Sugar maple
  • Northern red oak

Sexy laughs at me because when we first moved here, I planted 5 red oak seedlings in our woods. But, if you actually go out there and walk around, the place is full of red oak seedlings. My plantings were totally unnecessary (although one lived), and this spring we cut down a few crummy maple trees to get more light to the oaks.

The Conifers

We have mostly hardwoods, but also a few of most of the local conifers:

  • Balsam fir
  • White pine
  • Red pine
  • White spruce
  • Northern white-cedar
  • Eastern hemlock

A lot of the mature conifers on our property were planted, especially the northern white-cedar and red pine, but are now reproducing on their own a little bit. I was hoping to find hemlock on our property, but wasn’t sure that I would. There are several medium-sized hemlocks just off the northwest edge of our property. One of them might be on our side, but it’s hard to tell. I did, however, find one 3-foot-tall bushy hemlock sapling more toward the southwest corner of our property. This was nice, if only because I could say that we have at least one.

The Invaders

Our property has a good amount of edge and semi-open areas, so it makes sense that we’d see a fair number of these species:

  • Apple
  • Honeysuckle
  • Cherry
  • Serviceberry
  • Willow

I obviously didn’t spend much (or any!) time trying to figure out the actual species. The honeysuckle has hollow stems, so is probably not native and is a strong candidate for removal. Because we don’t have any large black cherry trees on (or near, that I’m aware of) our property, the cherries we have are probably choke or pin cherry. Nothing too exciting here.

The Planted Ones

These are technically part of the Yard and not the Woods (gardens described here), but seem to be worth mentioning today since I visited them on my walk:

  • Apples (2 cortland, 1 gala)
  • Maple-leaved viburnum

The Rarities

And, best for last, here are the handful of trees I was looking to see if I’d find (in addition to the hemlock):

  • White ash
  • Quaking aspen
  • Yellow birch
  • American elm
  • Hazelnut

I was happy to see these (even ironwood, as we don’t have too too much of it!). We only have two yellow birch trees, and the white ash are pretty sparse too (although there are a good number of seedlings). I’m especially excited about our one elm tree. I circled about 3/4 of the perimeter of our property before finding it, which was alternately making me think that we didn’t have it and making me question my ability to differentiate it from ironwood. But I found one. It’s about 4 inches diameter and is on the south edge of the property where it gets a decent amount of light from the road.

Now that we know what we have… what should we plant?  Let me know what you think!!

8 thoughts on “All the Trees in our Woods

  1. I don’t know many trees. My mother tried to teach me the names of them all, but somehow it never took. I can id maples and birches, but after that it’s a guessing game for me. This is my way of saying that I have absolutely no idea what you should plant next… but that with your knowledge I’m sure that it’ll be perfect.

    1. I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I think that if you wanted to learn more trees, you could make good progress with the conifers. There are less than 10 in the Midwest– even fewer if you’re farther south. And in addition to being able to tell them apart by needles (white pine has bundles of 5, red pine bundles of 2), they have really unique silhouettes that make it easier to tell them apart at a distance.

      1. Maria, that’s a good idea. Start with one kind and see what I see, so to speak. I’ll click on the link, read it, then start today when I go for my walk around the subdivison. Oh boy, something fun to do! Thanks.


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