Return to flip book view

Topsmead Ecology Trail Map

Page 1

1 Mixed Woods This wooded area is a Lowland 6 Rotten Log Though this tree fell to the ground 12 Forest Opening Numerous dying White Ash Red Maple Forest Consisting of Red Maple Birches and White Ash trees with an understory of brambles spicebush and honeysuckle this is typical of a second and third growth forest This means the forest has been cut off and regrown a couple of times and was once a pasture for livestock Species of trees succeed each other with passage of time years ago it is still a source of food and shelter Ants beetles and grubs eat holes in the wood Water enters and becomes a breeding ground for various fungi that will eventually break down the wood and return valuable nutrients back into the soil This is one way nature recycles trees create this opening Declines and destructive insects have recently affected ash trees Forest openings create an opportunity for early succession plants like honeysuckle and brambles 2 Pond This pond was dug for Miss Chase as part of the landscape design in the 1930 s Today it supports a healthy population of fresh water clams frogs turtles salamanders and other aquatic life The yellow iris around the shore is now on the invasive plant list An aggressive grower it has to be cleared away from the pond outlet Also growing are cattails a common pond plant with narrow leaves and a brown cigar like flower 3 Hemlocks These evergreens are Eastern Hemlocks Tsuga Canadensis a native tree can be tall graceful trees with flat needles that have two silver stripes on the bottom Mature Hemlocks stands create dense shade that supports little undergrowth 13 Spicebush Lindera benzoin This native shrub 7 Spruce Directly in front of you is a group of spruce trees These probably sprouted 12 to 15 years ago when seeds were dropped by birds left by squirrels or blown in by the wind grows 6 12 feet tall with yellow flowers in the very early spring and striking yellow fall foliage All parts of the Spicebush are aromatic when crushed hence the name 8 Fallen Trees The fallen and dead trees you see in this area are mostly White Ash Fraxinus americana a valuable native tree The White Ash has been decimated by the Emerald Ash Tree Borer an imported insect that tunnels beneath the bark eventually killing the tree Many of these trees have been cut down as a preemptive safety measure to keep dying trees and their branches from falling on hikers is a common forest tree with rough dark bark that grows 50 60 feet tall Fruits are consumed by wild life and can be used for making wine and jelly The lumber from Black Cherry is valuable for furniture making Black knot like cankers frequently affect this tree to the point of being an identifying feature Black Cherry 4 Yellow Birch Ahead of you is a Yellow Birch Be 15 American Beech Fagus grandifolia This 9 White Ash Log Fraxinus americana is one the most common valuable hardwood trees in the forest The long straightgrained wood is used for tool handles and baseball bats Ash wood also makes good firewood White Ash Beech is a beautiful smooth gray barked tree A native tree it can grow very large with long tan leaves that hang on well into the winter Beechnuts are a valuable wildlife food source Careless carving into the bark of this tree can cause it serious injury 5 Bench Please rest awhile on this bench to reflect listen and watch around you The tall plants around the bench are Jewelweed Impatiens pallida and Spotted Jewelweed Impatiens capensis grow along this trail The tall plant with succulent stems blooms from June until frost When its seed capsules are ripe they open explosively at the slightest touch flinging seeds far and wide inspiring the common name TouchJewelweed Me Not Crushed Jewelweed is said to alleviate the itch of Poison Ivy 17 Farm Pond As recently as the 1970s this once farm pond supported bass fish a home to wood ducks and served as a watering hole for livestock and wildlife However aquatic life has given over to cattails shrubs grasses and trees This natural transition from water to field to forest is known as pond succession 14 Black Cherry Prunus serotina Black Cherry Hemlock tula lutea Growing up to 100 feet tall its bark peels into thin curly silvery yellow strips The wood of the Yellow Birch is ideal for making furniture boxes woodenware and plywood Twenty feet behind you is a Black Birch Betula lenta Also known as Sweet Birch the Black Birch leaves and twigs have a distinctive birch beer scent clearing fields Note the large leafed low plant near the stone wall These are Bloodroot Sanguinaria canandensis Blooming in the early spring with a white flower the sap of the Bloodroot is a dark red This sap was used by Native People for dyes and war paint 18 Multiflora Rose Rosa multiflora This native of eastern Asia is an aggressive rose that escaped cultivation here and spreads through forest and fields The U S Soil Conservation Service originally introduced it in the 1930 s as a living fence and soil erosion control Its long thorny canes form an impenetrable thicket 19 Poison Ivy This is a poison ivy vine Poison ivy can grow as a ground cover or climb as a vine Contact with any part of the vine can cause an itchy skin inflammation even in winter In cases where this plant is burned breathing its smoke can cause lung irritation Heavy vines can burden and strangle trees Poison Ivy 10 Honeysuckle This invasive species of Honeysuckle Lonicera morrowii has hollow stems which is what differentiates it from the native Honeysuckle An escaped ornamental the invasive Honeysuckle crowds out native plants Their red berries have low nutritional value for wildlife 20 Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus This woody plant is an aggressive imported vine Similar to the American Bittersweet this invasive can smother and break trees This marked vine shows how bittersweet can climb and strangle trees Its showy red orange berries are eaten and spread by birds American Beech 11 Shrubby Growth These thickets of shrubs provide shelter for small mammals and birds and browsing for deer Viburnums dogwoods alders and blueberries are native shrubs that are a food source for wildlife 16 Stone Wall Remnants This rubble of stones was part of a former stone wall Connecticut woods are full of old stone walls that once marked boundaries provided field enclosures and a place to put stones when 21 Christmas Ferns This common woods fern stays green all winter The Christmas stocking shape of the fern leaflet is an identifier Ferns have no flowers but reproduce by spores found underneath the fronds

Page 2

22 Blow down Trees that blow down with their root ball intact create a pocket for water to collect Later the root ball will decompose and leave a mound of soil 23 Japanese Barberry Berberis thunbergii This thorny shrub is an invasive non native plant which spreads aggressively creating a monoculture that crowds out native plants Japanese Barberry is a favored habitat of ticks 24 Lichen on Rocks The rocks around you are spotted with what looks like dried paint This paint is Lichen a dual organism made up of a green algae and fungus Its color may be red yellow green or gray depending on moisture levels Lichen can withstand wide variations of climate and provides hiding places for tiny creatures and nesting material for birds 27 Skunk cabbage This herbaceous plant is one of 26 Wolf tree Decades ago this now fallen White Oak tree Quercus alba stood alone pasture shade for livestock Lone trees like these were known as wolf trees Over the years the forest grew up around it with the lack of grazing and cultivation In the winter of 1997 a storm brought down the old tree Edith Morton Chase Ecology Trail 28 Grapevine Look all around you to see the vines of the wild Grapes These heavy woody vines with dark shredded bark and twining tendrils have large lobed leaves In late summer the vines will produce clusters of purple grapes known as fox grapes a favorite wild life food 29 Spring and Watering Hole This small spring fed body of water was once used by livestock and wildlife as a watering hole The brown wooden cover protects the spring and well 25 Erosion and Wet Trails Excessive ground water and foot traffic contribute to wet parts of the trail The soil and plants do not get a chance to heal from being trampled especially in wet conditions Some control methods help note the water bars that divert water and culverts that drain water away from the trail Topsmead State Forest the first to emerge and flower in the spring growing in wet low lying areas Skunk cabbage is capable of producing its own heat to melt snow from around it Skunk cabbage s distinctive smell attracts pollinating insects 30 Transition from forest to field As you leave the woods notice how the trees thin out and more shrubs grow Shrubs give way to brambles and tall weeds such as Goldenrod Joe Pye Weed and Mullein Transition areas support the widest variety of wild life 31 Christmas Tree Patch You are walking through an abandoned Christmas tree patch of White Spruce Picea glauca and Blue Spruce Picea pungens D E P foresters originally planted the trees as an educational tool for Christmas tree growers The project was abandoned in 2002 and will now revert to wild life cover and a source for boughs Topsmead State Forest is a 634 acre property 511 acres of which were given by Ms Edith Morton Chase to the citizens of Connecticut in 1972 to enjoy and preserve Ms Chase s legacy features diverse landscapes including bike and nature trails formal gardens unique bird habitats and a meticulously crafted English Tudor style cottage The Friends of Topsmead State Forest is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing programs and activities that will protect the environment and preserve Ms Chase s legacy Our efforts are performed in conjunction with the CT Department of Energy Environmental Protection but we also need your help You can help in 3 ways Membership Volunteering Donations A Self Guided Walk To find out more about helping please visit our website https friendsoftopsmead org Topsmead State Forest https friendsoftopsmead org 29 Chase Road Litchfield CT 06759

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8