Edible Nut Grove
Sited within the rocky, oak-hickory woodland that forms the buffer between Fort Williams Park and its residential neighbors to the north, the Edible Nut Grove is a site of mature red oaks and shagbark hickories, and a nice diversity of understory plants. Removal of Norway maple, black locust, Asiatic bittersweet and other exotic invasive plant species will preserve this woodland and provide space and light to support additional plantings of northern, native, nut-bearing trees and shrubs, such as butternut, black walnut, beaked hazelnut, filbert, and perhaps beech.
As with the Arboretum’s Fruit Orchard project, this site has significant educational and ornamental potential, and we expect it will evolve to anchor many exciting educational activities with school children and other groups.
- Concrete Steps of Double Non-Commissioned Officers Quarters (1909): Leading up from Chapel Road.
Please visit the Park History page for more information about Fort Williams’ military past.
Featured Problematic Plant: burning bush (Euonymus alatus)
Very popular with homeowners and businesses alike for its striking red fall foliage, architectural interest, and ease of care, burning bush is a large and usually dense, rounded, horizontally branched shrub. Native to eastern Asia and China, it was introduced as an ornamental to the United States in the mid-1800s, and has become a staple in the designed landscape, typically planted along foundations and as hedging where it goes unnoticed until autumn.
Burning bush produces small, red, capsuled fruit, held under the foliage and ripening in fall, when it is consumed by birds and dispersed where they perch. Similar to Japanese barberry, it not only invades disturbed habitats, but is also capable of colonizing intact woodlands. Once established, it can form thickets that displace native understory plants and prevent the regeneration of canopy trees.
Featured Beneficial Plant: shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)
Shagbark hickory, a member of the walnut family, is a tall, narrow, long-lived tree with an irregular crown and deeply fissured bark that peels back in long shingles, giving mature trees a shaggy appearance. Large, bright green leaves are divided into 5 leaflets, turning a rich gold color in fall. Round nuts, borne singly or up to three in a cluster, are encased in a green husk that turn brown when nuts ripen in autumn. Nuts are sweet and enjoyed by people and many species of animals and birds, and bark crevices provide protective shelter for cavity-nesting birds and insects.
Native to eastern North America, shagbark hickory’s northeastern-most extent in the US occurs in Southern Maine. There is a broken band of hickories between Cape Elizabeth’s Gull Crest-Transfer Station area, Fort Williams Park, and the Casco Bay Islands, in particular on Little Diamond where there is a very old stand.