The Trees

Throughout the entry for the property in the National Register of Historic Places reference is made to the importance of the grounds and “plantings”.  The National Register states …

  • “The buildings are set amid park-like grounds that include many specimen trees, some of which date from the original development of the lot in the 1860s.”
  •  “The number and variety of specimen trees on the property are strong evidence that Hartshorne intended his property to showcase uncommon non-native trees.  The property contains one of the most diverse collections of historic specimen trees of any property in West Chester.”

Apart from the mention in the National Register of Historic Places these trees provide:

  • reduction in summer urban heat build up
  • reducton in air and noise pollution
  • rainfall retention
  • natural storm water management
  • biodiversity

See the Tree Map for the property

Oaks (Black, scarlet, red oaks): Most oaks when mature can spread wider than they are tall, which can be over 120 feet high. They make a wonderful canopy cover in woodlands. Their value in supporting vertebrate wildlife is huge as they supply the bulk of nut forage many animals such as squirrels and others eat. Holes in their trunk create vital nesting sites for many species of birds: chickadees, wrens, woodpeckers, flickers, owls, and bluebirds. No other plant genus supports more species of lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) which provide food for the birds. oaks have many caterpillars use them as homes from May to October. 20 species of dagger moths, 18 species of underwings, 8 species of hairstreaks, 44 species of inchworms and 15 species of giant silk moths use eastern oaks. Other insects use oaks for food and shelter such as walking sticks and large stag beetles.

River Birch: Good edge transitions with the larger trees, these smaller trees are noted for their wonderful exfoliating bark displaying various shades of color on their trunks as it peels away. They are excellent food sources for wildlife, supporting several hundreds of species of butterflies and moths, as well as producing seeds and flower buds for songbirds, small mammals and other birds. the exfoliating bark makes crevices for the insects to hide in the winter and which the woodpeckers then eat as they need that food during the winter months.

Tulip Poplar: These fast growing large trees provide food and shelter to 7 species of giant silk moths, 77 species of noctuid moths, 7 species of sphinx moths, and 1 species of butterflies during their larval development. bees use the early flowers for nectar and pollen. Honey bees use this early flowering tree to make their honey.

Maples: These trees make excellent shade. Maples have an important role generating insect biomass from 285 species of lepidoptera. They supply seeds and nesting sites for birds and squirrels. Maples also provide for forest-loving lepidoptera such as inch worms, supporting 68 species in eastern woods. Maples supply food for certain caterpillar species which will only eat maple leaves. Maples are the biggest contributor our beautiful fall colors.

Eastern White Pine: It is one of the most popular pines for use as specimen trees or for screening. seeds from the pine cones feed wild birds, squirrels, dozen of songbird species, as well as chipmunks, mice and voles. Pine needles feed 203 species of butterfly and moth larvae, the beautiful imperial moth larvae being one of them. There are also several inch worm species which only eat pines. Bluebirds will raise their young on sawfly  larvae that are special food for their young nestlings.

Elms: These excellent shade and specimen trees with their low-sweeping branches, broad spreading habit, and fast growth have been the most popular street tree in america for over a century. Elms support a diverse group of lepidoptera of which some only eat elm leaves and nothing else. One of them is the double-toothed prominent which actually shapes its back to look like the serrated edge of the em’s leaves to disguise itself from hungry birds.

Shagbark and Shellbark Hickories: Large trees can spread as wide as they are tall, making them lovely specimen and shade trees. They are noted for their production of nuts, which are very important sources of food in the fall and winter months for many mammals. These canopy species have beautiful fall colors of golds and yellows, similar to the color of butternut squash. Hickories play host to many species of lepidoptera, one of particular interest being the hickory horned devil, larvae of the royal walnut moth.This caterpillar is one of the largest and looks like a Chinese dragon used at the Chinese New Year celebration. Hickories also host several fuzzy, with long dense hair, caterpillars, i.e. the American dagger moth for one.

Source: Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy, a Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware