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The Beech-Maple trail is located in the Kalamazoo Nature Center in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.
Beech-Maple (0.7 mile) This trail will take you through an old growth beech-maple forest, along a sparkling stream. On late winter evenings, listen for the calls of barred and great horned owls. Blue-eyed Mary cascades down a hillside in spring. Trout lily, trillium, marsh marigold, spring beauty, and many other wildflowers also bloom in abundance here.
What a startling contrast we find between the open, sunny environment of the dunes and the lush, shady world of the beech-maple forest. Here plants must compete for the limited amount of sunlight. Shade-tolerance is the key to survival.
The dominant trees are sugar maple and American Beech. Both are able to survive in the shade of taller trees. However, if by chance a young tree gets enough sunlight, it experiences a burst of growth. By growing tall, it can reach the opening in the canopy of leaves. In addition to beech and maple, you will see black cherry, hemlock and basswood trees here. This is he climax forest of the area.
Other plant communities, given enough time, tend to phase into a beech-maple forest. Once established, this forest remains stable unless it experiences a setback such as forest fire or logging. Tune in all your senses. Maybe you will catch a glimpse of a squirrel or deer, or smell the odor of decaying leaves, or hear the flutelike song of the wood thrush.
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