Sightings – Trees

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 5/22/18

Observation Time: 10:45 a.m.

Observation Location: Town-owned conservation land near Sandy Ridge Circle

Common Name: American Beech tree

Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia

Comments: The American Beech is a shade-tolerant species, favoring shade more than other trees, commonly found in forests in the final stage of succession. Ecological succession is essentially the process of forests changing their composition through time; it is a pattern of events often observed on disturbed sites. Although sometimes found in pure stands, it is more often associated with sugar maple (forming the beech-maple climax community), yellow birch, and eastern hemlock, typically on moist well drained slopes and rich bottomlands.

More Information: Wikipedia

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 4/19/15

Observation Time: 2:35 p.m.

Observation Location: Moose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary

Common Name: American Chestnut

Scientific Name: Castanea dentata

Comments: American chestnut was once very common in New England, but it has been practically wiped out by the chestnut blight, a pathogenic fungus. The fungus does not kill the roots, which continue to send up shoots for years. However, the fungus usually prevents the shoots from maturing into nut-bearing trees.

More Information: Wikipedia

This chestnut tree in the woods at Moose Hill has managed to survive despite being partially girdled by the blight. It has actually grown large enough to produce nuts.

Chestnuts on the ground:

This photo taken 8/6/10 shows what American Chestnut leaves look like:


Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 6/24/10

Observation Time: 3:45 p.m.

Observation Location: Beaver Brook near tennis courts

Common Name: American Chestnut Tree

Scientific Name: Castanea dentata

Comments: The term “dentata” in the scientific name refers to the “teeth” around the edges of the leaves. American chestnut trees were decimated by chestnut blight. Remnant root systems continue to send up shoots such as those shown in the photos, but the blight prevents most of these shoots from getting large enough to produce nuts.

More Information: Wikipedia


Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 6/4/11

Observation Time: 4:20 p.m.

Observation Location: Conservation land near Billings Street

Common Name: American Hornbeam

Scientific Name: Carpinus caroliniana

Comments: The common English name hornbeam derives from the hardness of the wood (likened to animal horn) and the Old English beam, meaning “tree” (cognate with German Baum). The American hornbeam is also occasionally known as blue-beech, ironwood, or musclewood, the first from the resemblance of the bark to that of the American beech Fagus grandifolia, the other two from the hardness of the wood and the muscular appearance of the trunk, respectively. Hornbeams are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (i.e. butterflies and moths), including autumnal moth, common emerald, feathered thorn, walnut sphinx, Svensson’s copper underwing, and winter moth. 

More Information: Wikipedia

American Hornbeam


Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 5/22/18

Observation Time: 9:35 a.m.

Observation Location: banks of Beaver Brook (upstream of the tennis courts)

Common Name: Atlantic White Cedar tree

Scientific Name: Chamaecyparis thyoides

Comments: Atlantic White Cedars live almost exclusively in freshwater wetlands and are considered an obligate wetland species. They prefer habitats where the soil is saturated with water at least during the majority of the growing season. Though this tree species is not listed as threatened, Atlantic White Cedar wetlands are considered a globally threatened ecosystem, and often serve as carbon sinks because of their peat-building abilities. Caterpillars of the Hessel’s Hairstreak butterfly feed exclusively on C. thyoides, where its green color helps keep it camouflaged.

Sharon’s 250-acre Atlantic White Cedar swamp naturally purifies and stores the rainwater that recharges the springs that feed Lake Massapoag and the aquifers that provide Sharon residents with drinking water.

More Information: Wikipedia

The bark of Atlantic White Cedars has a spiral pattern up the tree trunk:


Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 5/30/15

Observation Time: 3:30 p.m.

Observation Location: near Gavins Pond

Common Name: Black Locust tree

Scientific Name: Robinia pseudocacia

Comments: The blossoms of black locust trees are good to eat, but beware of the thorns.

More Information: The Foraged Foodie 

Black locust blossoms

Black locust thorns

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 7/7/18

Observation Time: 3:15 p.m.

Observation Location: Moose Hill Farm (TTOR)

Common Name: Butternut (White Walnut)

Scientific Name: Juglans cinerea

Comments: Butternut is a deciduous tree growing to 20 m (66 ft) tall, rarely 40 m (130 ft). Butternut is a slow-growing species, and rarely lives longer than 75 years. It has a 40–80 cm (16–31 in) stem diameter, with light gray bark.

More Information: Wikipedia and Arbor Day Foundation

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 5/22/18

Observation Time: 10:55 a.m.

Observation Location: Moose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary

Common Name: Carolina Silverbell tree

Scientific Name: Halesia carolina

Comments: Carolina silverbell is a vigorous, fast-growing deciduous shrub or tree growing to 8 m (26 ft) tall by 10 m (33 ft) broad, bearing masses of pendent, bell-shaped white flowers which appear in spring. The flowers are followed by green, four-winged fruit. The leaves turn yellow in autumn.

Carolina silverbell grows mostly in the Piedmont and mountains of the Carolinas, eastern Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Its distribution extends beyond this central area, however, in small populations scattered over the southeastern Coastal Plain, western Virginia, West Virginia, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, central Arkansas, and southeastern Oklahoma. The species has been successfully cultivated as far north as southern New England, in California, and in Europe .

More Information: Wikipedia

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 6/25/16

Observation Time: 1:40 p.m.

Observation Location: Maskwonicut Street near Beaver Brook

Common name: Catalpa tree

Scientific Name: Catalpa speciosa

Comments: Large, bell-shaped 2″ white flowers are borne in 4″-8″ long panicles in late spring. The very large, 6″-12″ slightly heart-shaped, leaves turn yellow-greenish or brown in fall. Bean-like seed capsules, 8″-20″ long are green in color changing to brown and splitting open when ripe.

More Information: Arbor Day Foundation

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 5/2/11

Observation Time: 4:45 p.m.

Observation Location: Gavins Pond

Common Name: Crab Apple

Scientific Name: Pyrus baccata

Comments: Red-tinged hairless leaves indicate this is may be a Siberian crab apple.

More Information: Wikipedia

Crab Apple


Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 6/26/10

Observation Time: 3:25 p.m.

Observation Location: headwaters of Beaver Brook

Common Name: Sassafras

Scientific Name: Sassafras albidum

Comments: Sassafras albidum is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–20 m (49–66 ft) tall, with a canopy up to 12 m (39 ft) wide, with a trunk up to 60 cm (24 in) in diameter, and a crown with many slender sympodial branches. The bark on trunk of mature trees is thick, dark red-brown, and deeply furrowed.

More Information: Wikipedia


Observer: Deborah Radovsky

Observation Date: 5/11/17

Observation Time: early morning

Observation Location: Moose Hill, Billings Loop

Common Name: Sugar Maple Tree

Scientific Name: Acer saccharum

Comments: The two huge sugar maples near the barn on the Billings Loop are called George and Martha because they began life at around the same time as George Washington and his wife Martha. The Moose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary taps many of the sugar maples on its 2,000-acre property in late winter and makes maple syrup.

More Information: Arbor Day Foundation

Observer: Deborah  Radovsky

Observation Date: 11/10/17

Observation time:  unknown

Observation Location: Moose Hill, Vernal Pool Trail

Common Name: White Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus strobus

Comments: White pines are very common in Sharon.

More Information: Wikipedia

Observer: Deborah Radovsky  

Observation Date: 12/20/18

Observation Time: early morning

Observation Location: Conservation trail near the lake (dog park trail)

Common Name: White Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus strobus

Comments: White pines can live over 500 years and grow to more than 150 feet tall.

More Information: Wikipedia


Observer: Kathy Farrell

Observation Date: 10/31/18

Observation Location: Mountain Street area

Common Name: Witchhazel

Scientific Name: Hamamelis virginiana

Comments: Small tree, very common in some areas off Mountain Street. Known for reducing skin inflammations such as acne. Used by Native Americans for dousing sticks to find water. Small yellow blossoms in October. Leaves turn yellow in autumn.

More Information: