Objective

To identify the tree species of the Forest Theater area and estimate relative health. Based on the species composition and performance, develop strategic recommendations for care of existing trees and project recommendations for future planting.

Methods

Each tree was identified as true-to-species as feasible. Condition of trees was based on density of foliage (crown), presence of dead branches and trunk injury. Each tree was afforded a “low”, “moderate”, or “high” rating. Also, the understory and ground-floor vegetation was cataloged. Trees in the lawn area on the north side of the forest (woods) were also evaluated.

Results

Table 1 lists the species, number, and condition. This encompasses areas F1 – F6 plus the Lawn area. There were approximately 223 trees accessioned with 29 (13%) rated “high”; reciprocally 115 (52%) rated “low”. Acer rubrum (7%), Carya tomentosa (6.9%), Fagus grandifolia (12%), Liquidambar styraciflua (17.9%) and Quercus alba (6.7%) constituted 50% of the total trees. It was extremely rewarding to witness healthy American beech (Fagus grandifolia), a species largely absent (3 of 1296) from Kenan woods. In fact, the American beech rated 74% in the “high” category. Liquidambar styraciflua had 47.5% “moderate” to “high” trees. Fifty-two percent of these Liquidambar styraciflua rated “poor” as many were about 80’ high with dead and senescing branches.

In areas F1 to F4, seedling regeneration was abundant on the forest floor. The presence of Acer saccharum, Cornus florida, Fagus grandifolia, Fraxinus americana, Ilex opacaMagnolia grandiflora, and Quercus alba indicated excellent soil conditions and minimal disturbance. Obviously, the mature trees produced copious fruits and provided the inoculum for the next generation.

In F1 to F4, invasive exotics including, Elaeagnus pungens, Elaeagnus umbellata, Euonymus fortunei, Firmiana simplex, Hedera helix, Lonicera japonica, Rosa multiflora and Vitis spp. should be eliminated. Also, poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, is abundant and out-of-control. It grows next to the walk by Country Club Drive and is certainly a liability.

The woods in F1 – F4 are quite healthy and rich containing about 30 species requiring only clean-up and removal as discussed. Several native understory shrubs like Vaccinium stamineum, Viburnum acerifolium and Euonymus americanus are welcome inhabitants and should be protected.

Table 2 lists the species, number and condition. This area (F1 to F4) contains 164 (out of 223) or 74% of the total trees (Table 1) recorded for the Forest Theater area. The American beeches are magnificent (79% “high”, 21% “moderate”) and should be preserved as they assume their rightful place in this climax forest.

Comments about regeneration under Total Tree Composition apply specifically to the F1 – F4 areas. Once the scruffy invasives and poison ivy are removed, the understory and edges by the proposed path might be enhanced by carefully selected, shade-tolerant native shrubs and small trees like Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye; Aesculus pavia, red buckeye; Aesculus sylvatica, painted buckeye; Callicarpa americana, American beautyberry; Calycanthus floridus, sweetshrub; Chionanthus virginicus, fringetree; Dirca palustris, Atlantic
leatherwood; Fothergilla taxa; Hydrangea arborescens, smooth hydrangea; Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangea; Lindera benzoin, spicebush; Rhododendron species with emphasis on native, deciduous azaleas (complete collection) as well as the evergreen R. catawbiense, R. chapmanii, R. maximum, and R. minus; Stewartia malacodendron, silky stewartia; S. ovata, mountain stewartia; and native Viburnum species (in quantity). Collaboration with the Botanical Garden could result in a wild-collected, taxonomically-documented assemblage of native, flowering shrubs/small trees that serve aesthetic and educational purposes.

Table 3 lists the species, number and condition of trees located in the Lawn area north of the native woods (F1 – F4). This swath starts at the tip of the triangle formed where Country Club Drive and Boundary Street intersect and three Ilex ‘Mary Nell’ are located, and extends to the west side of the parking lot, including picnic tables, to the actual theater structure. Thirty-five trees comprised 15.5% of the total. Only two rated “high”, Fraxinus americana and Liquidambar styraciflua. Twenty-seven percent rated “low”; 69% “moderate”. This area should be considered in concert with F1 – F4, particularly if the new path and native shrub understory plantings are implemented. Removal of the “low” rated trees and pruning of the “moderate” and “high” rated trees would dramatically enhance aesthetics and safety.

Assess available lawn space after removal/clean up and then add species that mirror the F1 – F4 area. Recommend a short list of Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, Liriodendron tulipifera, Nyssa sylvatica, and Quercus alba. Several strategically placed Pinus taeda, Pinus glabra and/or Pinus strobus are warranted.

Table 4 lists the species, number and condition in the Theater and east to a path that extends to Country Club Drive (F5 and F6 on the map). On the inside of the Theater, against the back stage wall, Morus alba, Ilex vomitoria, and Fraxinus americana, are ensconced. All could/should be removed. Recommend softening the wall with true-clinging, native vines like Bignonia capreolata, Decumaria barbara and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. There are several new cultivars of all these species that provide unique foliage and flower colors. No
supports are necessary since these species affix themselves to structures by “adhesive” means.

The 24 trees rank about 33%:67%; “low”:“moderate-high”. The slope next to the east seating area is a shambles with small regenerating redbuds. Several trees were removed as evidenced by stumps. Erosion is a problem. Adding a screening border composed of Viburnum rafinesquianum, Viburnum rufidulum (larger) and Viburnum dentatum would stabilize soil and provide enclosure. Behind this “screen”, larger evergreen trees, Magnolia grandiflora and Pinus spp., could be planted.

Several tree planting pits, now empty, are present in/near the theater seating areas. Consider replanting with native oaks like Quercus coccinea, Quercus falcata var. pagodifolia, and Quercus nuttallii.

Behind the theater, a grouping of large conifers would form the backdrop. Fast-growing pines are an option, perhaps mixed with Magnolia grandiflora ‘Claudia Wannamaker’.

Table 1. Total Tree Species, Condition and Numbers in Forest Theater
Scientific Name High Low Moderate Grand Total
Acer rubrum 1 11 4 16
Acer saccharum 1 1 2
Carya glabra 2 2
Carya tomentosa 2 1 12 15
Celtis laevigata 1 1
Cornus florida 1 9 10
Fagus grandifolia 20 7 27
Fraxinus americana 1 4 4 9
Ilex vomitoria 1 1
Juglans nigra 1 1
Juniperus virginiana 8 8
Liquidambar styraciflua 1 21 18 40
Liriodendron tulipifera 2 4 6
Morus alba 3 3
Nyssa sylvatica 7 1 8
Oxydendrum arboreum 6 6
Paulownia tomentosa 1 1
Pinus echinata 6 6
Pinus taeda 8 2 10
Platanus occidentalis 1 1
Prunus serotina 2 2
Quercus alba 2 7 6 15
Quercus coccinea 1 1
Quercus falcata 7 5 12
Quercus rubra 1 1
Quercus stellata 2 1 3
Quercus velutina 1 1
Ulmus alata 7 5 12
Ulmus americana 2 2
Viburnum prunifolium 1 1
Grand Total 29 115 79 223
Table 2. Total Tree Species, Condition and Numbers in F1 – F4, Natural Areas of Forest Theater
Scientific Name High Low Moderate Grand Total
Acer rubrum 1 10 4 15
Acer saccharum 1 1
Carya glabra 2 2
Carya tomentosa 1 1 7 9
Cornus florida 1 9 10
Fagus grandifolia 20 6 26
Fraxinus americana 4 2 6
Juniperus virginiana 4 4
Liquidambar styraciflua 19 4 23
Liriodendron tulipifera 1 2 3
Morus alba 1 1
Nyssa sylvatica 7 7
Oxydendrum arboreum 6 6
Paulownia tomentosa 1 1
Pinus echinata 3 3
Pinus taeda 8 1 9
Prunus serotina 2 2
Quercus alba 6 6 12
Quercus coccinea 1 1
Quercus falcata 6 3 9
Quercus rubra 1 1
Quercus stellata 2 2
Quercus velutina 1 1
Ulmus alata 6 3 9
Viburnum prunifolium 1 1
Grand Total 24 98 42 164
Table 3. Total Tree Species, Condition and Numbers in Lawn Areas of Forest Theater
Scientific Name High Low Moderate Grand Total
Acer saccharum 1 1
Celtis laevigata 1 1
Fagus grandifolia 1 1
Fraxinus americana 1 1 2
Juglans nigra 1 1
Juniperus virginiana 3 3
Liquidambar styraciflua 1 1 14 16
Liriodendron tulipifera 1 2 3
Morus alba 1 1
Pinus taeda 1 1
Platanus occidentalis 1 1
Quercus alba 1 1
Ulmus alata 1 1
Ulmus americana 2 2
Grand Total 2 9 24 35
Table 4. Total Tree Species, Condition and Numbers in F5 – F6, Within Forest Theater and East of Theater
Scientific Name High Low Moderate Grand Total
Acer rubrum 1 1
Carya tomentosa 1 5 6
Fraxinus americana 1 1
Ilex vomitoria 1 1
Juniperus virginiana 1 1
Liquidambar styraciflua 1 1
Morus alba 1 1
Nyssa sylvatica 1 1
Pinus echinata 3 3
Quercus alba 2 2
Quercus falcata 1 2 3
Quercus stellata 1 1
Ulmus alata 2 2
Grand Total 3 8 13 24
Forest Theater Map