WOODLANDS & WOODLOTS
WHAT ARE WOODLANDS?
Oak woodlands are a forest community characterized mainly of White and Black oak trees found on dry soils. They are often referred to as “woodlots”.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Oak woodlands are identified by the presence of a large number of white and black oak trees, scattered black cherry, and shagbark hickory. Frequent fire historically prevented the growth of fire-vulnerable specie such as maple and basswood, while the fire resistant species survived. Brambles (black raspberry and blackberry bushes), grey dogwood, and American hazelnut frequently make up a dense, often impenetrable shrub layer. Wild geranium, False Solomon seal, Rough-leaved sunflower, and wild grasses such as Woodland brome and Bottle-brush grass can be abundant. Today the white and black oaks may be over-toppled by fast growing sugar maples and basswood, and the understory a mix of the shrubs mentioned above, plus Common and Glossy buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and Gooseberry.
WHERE TO LOOK
Oak woodlands are found throughout southern and western Wisconsin, located on south- and west-facing slopes, and thin soils on hilltops and ridges.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WOODLANDS IN WI?
The surrogate name for this natural community – woodlot – says it all. Early settlers in WI cleared oak woodlands to make room for agricultural operations and for timber products. Those that were not cleared immediately were managed for firewood or lumber, and fire was not welcome. Without fire, the maple and basswood grew unchecked, limiting the regeneration of shade-intolerant oak trees. This continues today.
Birds: Red-headed woodpecker, whip-poor-will, Wood thrush
Mammals: Woodland Vole, Eastern Red Bat
Reptiles and Amphibians: Bullsnake, Ornate box turtle
WHERE TO FIND HELP
HOW TO MANAGE
A comprehensive look into oak cover type from the WI Department of Natural Resources Silviculture Handbook.