Trees Survive Windstorms in Upland Hardwood Forest

In 1995, Hurricane Opal toppled trees throughout the South, including parts of the southern Appalachians. Wind is a common canopy disturbance in upland oak-hickory forests, but little has been reported on naturally formed large gaps of more than six trees where a partial canopy remains. With Erik Berg, SRS researchers Stanley Zarnoch and Henry McNab…  More 

After Fire, Red Oak Seedlings Resprout

Disturbance – from fire and subsistence living to widespread exploitative logging – enabled the growth of oak (Quercus) forests across the eastern U.S. These disturbances are not common today. Reduced disturbance, coupled with a long-term increase in moisture availability has been good for non-oak trees, which establish and grow under the older oak canopy –…  More 

White Oak Regeneration in Canopy Gaps

In February 2020, USDA Forest Service scientist Stacy Clark planted 720 white oak (Quercus alba) seedlings on the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. “White oak is declining in abundance across the eastern U.S., and we are concerned that wildlife species and industries around cooperages, distilleries, and flooring will be negatively affected without proactive…  More 

Black Locust & Drought

With its symbiotic bacteria, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) makes its own nitrogen fertilizer – and can share it with other tree species. “In early successional temperate forests, symbiotic nitrogen fixation is often the main source of new nitrogen,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Chelcy Miniat. But drought could slow the rate of symbiotic nitrogen fixation,…  More 

Oak Regeneration and Acorn Size

Oak regeneration is an oft-discussed topic in forestry. The trees aren’t sustainably generating in many upland temperate forests due to a variety of factors — including the fact that they are less competitive than other, more sun-loving species such as tulip poplar. One way that forest managers are responding to this issue is artificial oak…  More 

Acorns and Their Predators

Acorns aren’t only for squirrels. They serve as a food source for a variety of wildlife, such as mice, deer, and turkeys. This presents somewhat of a problem for oak trees – acorn producers – because their future depends on acorns surviving and germinating to become the next generation. A recent study by USDA Forest…  More 

Testing Blight Resistance in American Chestnuts

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was a keystone tree species in the eastern U.S., once found in the forest overstory from Maine to Georgia. The loss of the “mighty giant” to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), a fungal disease accidentally imported from Asia in the early 1900s, reduced the once dominant chestnuts to remnant understory sprouts.…  More 

Using Prescribed Fire to Restore and Sustain Oak Ecosystems

Used incorrectly, fire can degrade wood quality and its value as timber. When should managers use prescribed fire in hardwood stands? “I field a lot of questions from state and local partners about the long-term effects of using prescribed fire in hardwood stands,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Callie Schweitzer. Schweitzer has spent her career…  More 

Post-Fire Mortality for Southern Hardwoods

Drive down Highway 7 in northern Arkansas, winding through the Ozark National Forest, and you may glimpse evidence of recent fire: scorched grass, darkened tree bark, maybe even a lingering wisp of smoke. Traces of prescribed burning can be seen throughout the South. Prescribed fire is a critical tool for forest restoration. A new study…  More 

Protecting Hardwood Resources

Trees provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and beauty. Trees are also vital to local economies. “In 2015, Kentucky had 193 hardwood sawmills,” says USDA Forest Service research forester Tom Brandeis. “That same year, Tennessee had 226 hardwood sawmills.” Each state produced more than 700 million board feet of hardwood lumber in 2015. Higher…  More