CERA Interpretive Point #4

This area demonstrates the typical structural organization of a forest.

At your feet is a herbaceous layer of short, low-growing plants like wildflowers, ferns and grasses. The shrub layer, about 5 to 10 feet high, is particularly obvious here, consisting primarily of a small, pretty tree called spicebush. Overhead, immature trees that are still growing in height form the subcanopy. The largest, most mature trees compose the canopy. These trees get plenty of direct sunlight on their upper leaves, which in turn cast a dense shade on the forest below. Spicebush is a native shrub or small tree, rarely attaining more than 10 feet in height. It has smooth, glossy oval leaves that taper to a sharp point. Scratch the woody stem and sniff; you’ll get a delightful lemony scent. Spicebush produces beautiful red berries in the fall that are eaten by migrating robins and other songbirds.