What are southern mesic woods?

The dominant tree species in these woods is sugar (hard) maple, but basswood can also be dominant. Many other trees are found in these forests, including members of the walnut family, ironwood, red oak, red (soft) maple, white ash, and elms.

What maintains them?

Trees with may apple plants in the foreground
May apple, shown in the foreground, is a common spring ephemeral in southern mesic woods.

Southern mesic woods are an upland woodland community that occurs on highly fertile, well-drained, loamy soils. These woods are the product of succession, the gradual replacement of one group of species by another.

Once a certain number trees whose leaves don’t burn easily are established, such as maples, basswood, and ash, fire can no longer shift the system toward more open, less shady conditions that favor species like oaks.

How do I recognize these woods?

The presence of sugar maple and basswood trees are a dead giveaway.

What other plants and animals are present in these woods?

Wildflowers include spring beauty, toothwort, trout lilies, trillium, violets, bloodroot, blue cohosh, may apple, honewort, lopseed, wild geranium, and Virginia waterleaf.

Acadian flycatchers, hooded warblers, Kentucky warblers, Louisiana water thrushes, wood thrushes, black rat snakes, four-toed salamanders, and timber rattlesnakes may all be found in mesic woods.