Site E: Deciduous Forest Layers

Here is a stand of mainly deciduous second-growth forest. The forest can be split into three layers - the canopy (tree layer), the shrub layer, and the groundcover layer. Here the main trees are bigleaf maple, paper birch, and red alder. The shrub layer mainly consists of red elderberry, the prickly-stemmed salmonberry, and sword fern. As well, vine maple, and spiny wood fern are common. The spiny wood fern has a darker green, tough, and overall triangular-shaped frond. Another similar fern is lady fern, which has thicker, lighter green, more fragile fronds whose overall shape tapers towards the base. The groundcovers are many, much being dominated by mosses such as badge moss, especially in winter. Creeping buttercup, with its distinctive yellow flowers, piggy-back plant, which has geranium-shaped leaves often growing one on top of the other, and foamflower, with 3 coarsely toothed leaflets per stem and many small white flowers on a long stalk, are also common groundcovers. As well, fringecup, Pacific bleeding heart, Western trillium, vanilla-leaf, Siberian miner’s lettuce, and stinging nettle are commonly found (see illustrations). Less common, but still usually seen, are false Solomon’s-seal and Hooker’s fairybells. As you walk along, note the many fallen trees along the trail. Some of them are huge bigleaf maple branches that have fallen off the trees, so thick and laden with mosses that the tree can’t hold them any more! See if you can figure out which tree they came from.