Shrubs found in this plant community include a variety of species characteristic of tallgrass woodlands such as: Black Huckleberry, Bush Honeysuckle, Common Blackberry, Dryland Blueberry, Low Sweet Blueberry, New Jersey Tea, Upland Willow (see below), Smooth Wild Rose and Poison Ivy.
Unlike the low shrub and prairie understory found in the dry, tallgrass woodlands in High Park, the understory of moist Red Oak forests are characterized by tall shrubs. Beaked Hazel, Choke Cherry, Maple-leaved Viburnum, Mountain Maple, Nannyberry, Red-osier Dogwood, Round-leaved Dogwood and Witch-hazel form a dense shrub layer.
One of our favourite signs of spring is the emergence of upland willow catkins (the flowering part of the plant). Upland willow is so named because it grows in dry upland regions. It is the only species of pussy willow that grows in dry areas; most willows prefer to reside near water.
As its flowers develop, upland willow will protect its catkins with a soft and silvery covering. Later in the season, once the leaves have grown, caterpillars of various moths and butterflies (such as the Mourning Cloak) will feed on the foliage. The leaves are long and narrow, typical of all willow species, but distinct in that they have a velvety underside.
Source: The Biology of Pussy Willows: The Biology of Pussy Willows. Contributed by Kami Valkova
- Shrubs of High Park (pdf)