Outdoors Recreation

In Bloom: Ironwood

By Suzanne Wodek

Ironwood tree. Anne Holmes, artist

Ostrya virginiana, commonly called ironwood, is a tough, under-story tree with beautiful birch-like leaves; showy, grayish-brown, shaggy bark that provides winter interest; fine-textured drooping branches and attractive hop-like fruits. This 20’ to 40’ slender deciduous tree is in the Betulaceae (birch) family.

It prefers partial shade with direct sun two to six hours a day. The wood is strong, hard and durable. It was once used for sleigh runners, fence posts, tool handles and fuel. The inner wood was used by Native Americans to treat toothaches, sore muscles and coughs.

Ironwood is moderately resistant to deer damage and fire, but sensitive to soil compaction. It is the host plant for the red-spotted and Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies. Its nut-like fruit is eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail and small mammals. It has no serious insect or disease problems.

Upcoming Events

Native Seed Collecting Workshop with Sarah Coury
Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Collecting seed and propagating your own native plants is an adventurous and economical way to make your garden grow. This hands-on workshop covers proper techniques for seed collection, storage and propagation. Each student will leave with their own cache of native seeds collected from the Gardens. This will be an indoor and outdoor class.
Sarah Coury is the garden manager and co-owner of Saturnia Farm in Weaverville, which specializes in holistic production of perennials and native plants.

Moss & Lichens Walk with Sue Studlar
Saturday, October 28, 2–3:30 p.m.
An exploration of the hidden world of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and lichens in the Gardens. Learn to distinguish bryophytes from lichens and to recognize distinctive species that are specialized for survival in particular niches. We will discuss their critical roles in the ecosystem. Why are bryophytes and lichens excellent ecological indicators? Be prepared for the weather and bring a hand lens (required).

Botanical Gardens, located at 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, is a nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Gardens are open sunrise to sunset. The gift shop, carrying garden-themed items and books, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and memberships are encouraged. Membership benefits include a discount of 10 percent on purchases in the gift shop, an extensive collection of gardening and nature books in the Cole Library that members can check out (reference collection not included), our quarterly New Leaf newsletter, and tours and programs at a reduced rate. Learn more at AshevilleBotanicalGardens.org.

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