Cornelius’ Corner: “We’re All Tree-Huggers!”
Now that fall is here and the leaves are changing colors, I thought it would be a good time to talk about trees! The park is home to over 80 different types of trees. Some, like the American Sycamores growing along the creek, are huge. Others, like the Ironwoods by the Forest Classroom, are much smaller. Most of the trees in the park are native to southeastern Pennsylvania but some, like the Dawn Redwoods near the Springhouse, were brought from other parts of the world. Each tree has its own unique characteristics and features that make it amazing, which means it was really hard to narrow down the list of what trees to talk about. Instead, I decided to interview some of the park staff to see what their favorite trees are!
P.S. – I made a quiz! Match the leaves in the banner picture to the trees in this interview. Answers are at the bottom of this post!
Jessica Shahan, Naturalist & Volunteer Coordinator
“It’s a hard choice, but I think my favorite tree would have to be Scarlet the Red Maple, which is a Red Maple that our summer campers planted together in 2019 near the Log Cabin. They learned about how maple trees are used by many species of wildlife, so they decided that she needed a name to reflect her importance. Luckily she survived the floods in 2020 and continues to grow nice and big!”
Laura Adie, Programs & Administration Manager
“My favorite tree is the Tulip Poplar. For one, it’s the official tree of my home state, Indiana. It’s also just a beautiful tree, growing tall with a remarkably straight trunk. The most interesting feature to me is the unique tulip shape of its leaves, which gives it its name.”
Keith Doms, Site Manager
“I like oaks – I have very happy memories of collecting acorns as a child. I like how strong they are. Seeing them makes me feel happy!”
Brenda Orso, Development Manager
“My favorite tree has to be the Eastern Redbud. But not just any Redbud. The one I planted in my backyard about 7 years ago. When I planted it, it was just a little stick with a few leaves. Now, it’s twice as tall as I am, with a full canopy bursting with heart-shaped leaves and a vibrant pink bloom in the spring. I feel proud of that tree, like I did something special. I didn’t – I just stuck it in the ground and kept it watered for a couple of summers. I do like to give it encouragement, though. I run my hands along the rough bark and say ‘good job, tree.’“
Tony Shahan, Executive Director
“My favorite tree is the Osage Orange because it bridges nature and cultural history. It is a prehistoric tree that evolved to be spread by megafauna eating it and then dispersing seeds in their droppings. It was brought to our area from the Missouri River Valley by Lewis and Clark. Here in the park, Osage Oranges mark historic field lines as it was used for hedge trees. These old trees make up a natural tunnel that makes a really neat feature today.”
Eva Mergen, Historic Carpenter
“My favorite species of tree is the Linden tree, Tilia americana. My favorite thing about this tree is the flowers. They smell amazing and they are a good food source for all kinds of insects, including bees. When the tree is in full bloom, it can have so many bees on the flowers that you can stand near the tree and hear them all buzzing!”
What an excellent assortment of trees! Do you have a favorite tree or tree memory? I would love it if you stopped by my tank in the Visitor Center to share it with me!
Leaf quiz answers: A (Red Oak) B (Linden) C (Eastern Redbud) D (Tulip Poplar) E (Red Maple) F (Osage Orange)