Getting to know Thornwood: From roots to canopy

Recently I invited our district forester, Jayson Waterman, to come to the park and give me an assessment of Thornwood Reserve and how to best manage the property for future generations. Here are a few highlights from that visit.

This area is a bottomland hardwood forest with adjoining mixed upland hardwood and is fully stocked. The timber is average to good quality. Major species of trees in the reserve are Green Ash, Shagbark Hickory and Black Walnut.

Minor species include american beech, ohio buckeye, cottonwood, kentucky coffeetree, american elm, red elm, hackberry, hawthorn, bitternut hickory, shellbark hickory, honey locust, sugar maple, muscle wood, bur oak, chinkapin oak, red oak, paw paw, spicebush, sycamore and apple — quite an assortment for a small woods.

As we already knew, the one thing that needs to be accomplished is the control of invasive species located in the understory, or the layer underneath the main canopy of the forest. These include Asian bush honeysuckle, japanese honeysuckle, winged burning bush and the ever-present multi-flora rose.

The report also added one that I didn’t realize was out there, the Blunt-leaved Privit. So, add those to the mustard garlic and the few stands of Canada thistle that are out there, and we have our hands full eradicating what we don’t need or want.

He also mentioned hazard trees and the need to get them out of the way. Fortunately, we have very few of these that would impact the trails or picnic area. Those that are off-trail and not likely to fall on the trail will be left to nature. This is one reason we would prefer you stay on marked trails.

This was just part of an eight-page report on Thornwood. It also included instructions on replacing trees in open areas within the woods, which is a bit more complicated than I thought.

In other news about Thornwood, we have ordered 100 White Pine trees, from the Department of Natural Resources, to be planted in various areas in the pasture area to provide more cover for animals and birds. There are also plans to plant parts of the pasture in native wildflowers so that they will spread and to also attract more birds and such. As a side note, 71 species of birds have been seen at the park.

The report also included some interesting facts, which included:

Private landowners own more than 85 percent of Indiana’s forests.

More than 120 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians depend on Indiana’s woodlands for cover, nesting and feeding.

One acre of trees supplies enough oxygen for 18 people.

One healthy tree provides enough oxygen (450 pounds) in one growing season to supply sufficient oxygen for an entire year for one person.

Every pound of wood grown removes one-and-a-half pounds of carbon dioxide from the air and produces a little more than one pound of oxygen.

On average, it takes one 100-foot tree per year to supply each American with wood products.

Leaves filter dust, ash, and pollen from the air.

People are still heading out to Thornwood even during the winter months. From Jan. 1 to 13 we had 25 people sign in. We do request that everybody who visits sign in; for those that show up daily, I know it can be a pain. This helps us gauge how to better serve the public.

Joe Whitfield is a naturalist and gardener for the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department. Send comments to