A Study of Trees: Glen Echo Park and Surrounding Area


I have never been to Glen Echo Park before, but, being just past my own backyard I decided this might be the very place to begin expanding my knowledge of the trees around me.

Normally, walking through campus, my eyes are drawn to the locomotion around me – usually people and passers by, squirrels, dogs (by lucky occasion), and frequently small birds hopping around students feet. I consider myself more attentive to details on my commute than most, but have been realizing I may not be as attentive as I previously thought – I’ve left out trees!! HOW COULD I LEAVE OUT TREES?

If anything, it took until I opened carmen and saw the assignment page, pulled out my Peterson’s field guide, grabbed my keys and got in my car, nalgene in hand, and headed over to the park to “complete the assignment” for me to realize how inattentive I have actually been this entire time.

Here are my findings:

Below, Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum, found at the beginning of the trail.

Features: Opposite, 5 lobed, toothed leaves, somewhat deeply notched between lobes. Brown bark deeply marked with vertical grooves and ridges. This tree is incredibly shade tolerant and popular in urban planting. The key to growing good Sugar Maple trees is to not disturb the root system – most commonly, by avoiding attempts to plant these in dense, clay areas and also minimizing compaction of soil and roots from the ground surface. This tree was found within Glen Echo Park, on the side of a hill in seemingly moist soil.



Below, what I believe to be the Common Catalpa, Catalpa bignonioides. These leaves are paired, or in whorls of 3. The underside of each leaf was surprisingly quite fuzzy, a trademark of this tree. Flowers normally white and yellow with purple spots, none were seen as the flowering period for this particular tree is late June-July. Although not overly pungent, when crushed, these leaves did appear to give off a bit of a foul odor, as indicated as they might in Peterson’s guide. This tree is often planted in urban areas, and may benefit the landscape within dryer areas, or low, very moist areas. This tree was found within Glen Echo Park, in seemingly moist soil.


White Oak below, Quercus alba, as if you had not seen enough of them! These leaves are evenly lobed and hairless, the end buds a red brown color. Leaves alternate, 7 – 9 lobes to a leaf. The bark of this particular tree, a bit grey and shallowly scaled. Oak trees prefer acidic soils, but may adapt in order to grow in neutral or alkaline soils. This tree was found within Glen Echo Park, on the side of a small hill.




Below, Redbud, Cercis canadensis L. Heart shaped, simple, alternate leaves are smooth on both sides. A unicarpellate pod was seen alonside the leaves, fairly textbook for this particular tree around this time of year. Redbuds are often found on the sides of woodlands, and therefore often develop a tendency to lean in order to obtain more sunlight. Unfortunately, the tree was not blushing, or in bloom, as this study was done in early September rather than April or May – this warrants a definite trip back in the spring. This tree was found in Glen Echo Park, in fairly moist soil.



Below, what appears to be a Common Privet, Ligustrum vulgare. What a beautiful little thing. Leaves rather strong and very leathery, its white flowers were not observed as it was out of season (not June, July). Opposite, simple leaves. This plant is actually quite invasive, no suprise it was creeping around the area of Glen Echo. This tree has flowers which bloom in the spring time, showy and white, but are incredibly fragrant – often, they are considered foul – smelling by those who experience them. This tree was found within Glen Echo Park, in seemingly moist soil by a stream.


Below, Softleaf Arrowood, Viburnum molie. The simple leaves appear to be opposite, the leaf itself is quite leathery, with soft hair underneath. The leaf, in addition, is heart shaped with about 20-30 teeth per leaf. This particular tree is commonly mis – identified, and therefore the number of these trees within any particular area is often greater than understood to be. This tree was found within Glen Echo Park, near a ravine with seemingly moist soil.


Below, what I thought might be a bit tricky to distinguish, but a bit more identifiable due to its prominant first teeth, the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Large, pinnately compound leaves. This tree is INCREDIBLY invasive, and is also known as stinktree due to the offensive odor of its flowers. This tree itself was found Southwest of Glen Echo Park.



Below, the Eastern Cottonwood tree,  Populus Deltoides. This tree has alternate, heart shaped leaves that are heavily toothed. If you’ve ever seen tiny little white fibers flowing through the air or accumulating on street corners in the spring, it is most likely this one! Interesting enough, this tree separates its male and female flowers. This particular tree was found Southwest of Glen Echo Park.



Overall, a good experience. Feeling out my ability to recognize or identify the plants and trees around me was certainly worth while – I realize there is a lot of work to be done. BUT, none the less, this trip got me out into a wild area (I’ve been looking for parks similar to this in the Columbus area for how many years now?), away from the buzz and hum of everyday life, and allowed me to appreciate the complexity (but simpleness) of whats around me.


My roommate also had a good time too – here she is taking pictures during a moment when she wasn’t wading through the water and fishing out litter. The tally was, at the end of the afternoon, two trash bags full of different things  – an oil dipstick, beer cans, house siding, and even a stranger’s drivers license (?!?)