Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chapman Forest - Charles County, Old-Growth Forest Network selection

Early Sunday morning I made the long drive to Charles County, MD
to join a group going to Chapman Forest. It will be the perfect forest for the Old-Growth Forest Network. The walk was led by Rod Simmons and these are his notes: "Fifty-four of us from the Maryland Native Plant Society, Virginia Native Plant Society, Botanical Society of Washington, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, Alexandria TreeStewards, and others traversed the highland areas from the Glymont area to historic Mount Aventine above the deep ravines and bluffs that comprise the old-age section of Chapman Forest. We saw a remarkable diversity of vegetation, old-age trees, and spectacular scenery throughout, including some interior sections of Shell-Marl Ravine Forest. This section of the park is a fascinating and regionally unique meeting ground for plants with a primary range in the inner piedmont and mountains and those of the southern coastal plain.

We began the walk through both the Chestnut Oak-Mountain Laurel evergreen and mixed oak-deciduous heath types of Oak-Heath Forest (USNVC: CEGL008521 and CEGL006299) on the gravel terrace near Chapman Landing Road, descended in elevation through sections of Mid-Atlantic Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (USNVC: CEGL006075), and traversed sections of old-age Shell-Marl Ravine Forest (Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest – USNVC: CEGL006055) that occur in the deep ravines, stream valleys, and rolling hills where calcareous and glauconitic marine sands and marl beds are exposed.

Annual Winter Solstice field trip participants and State Champion Pagoda Oak (Quercus pagoda) atop bluffs above the Potomac River at Chapman Forest, Charles County, Maryland. Photo by R.H. Simmons.

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