Leaves and the shade they provide defined the Rock Creek Park Summer Tree Tour, the third of four installments celebrating the 125th anniversary of the park.
Hiking a loop along the Western Ridge Trail, naturalist and author of A Year in Rock Creek Park Melanie Choukas-Bradley led the 31 participants through a course in tree identification, examining numerous oak species, hickories, American beech and others.
Many tree species found in Rock Creek Park are difficult to differentiate without the clues provided by their summer leaves.Examining the samaras is virtually the only way to distinguish between green and white ash trees, and the hikers spotted both.
The group happened upon a group of umbrella magnolia trees just starting to bear fruit. This magical grove provided a shady retreat and charmed everyone with its lush, tropical-looking leaves. Native to the area a bit south of D.C., these trees are thought to become more prevalent in this area as climate change progresses.
Summer in Rock Creek Park offers a respite from the intense heat you may feel in other parts of the city. You’ll be thankful for the park’s lush canopy as its cooling shade welcomes you into its sanctuary. Now go explore!