|Late spring (mid-May) in the Eastern Deciduous Forest at Indian Creek Nature Center near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Notice how sunny the forest floor is due to the trees not being entirely leafed out.|
|Summer (late June) in nearly the same location at the Indian Creek Nature Center as the picture above. Notice the forest is much darker due to the trees being leafed out. Not so noticeable in this picture is the thicker summer vegetation.|
While the summer forest can be quite itchy,It is quite a refuge from the summer heat and sun. It is also one of the most wondrous and active habitats around. If I were to describe the summer forest in one word it would simply be GREEN. Absolutely everything is beautifully green. The forest floor is green with mosses and a thick layer of bushes and leafy plants. Above, smaller understory trees like elms, dogwoods, and ironwoods are green. Towering higher, canopy trees like oaks, maples, walnuts, ash and hickory's form another thick green layer. Each of these layers of green is also full of life, which can often be difficult to see due to thick vegetation. Birds of all types, Cardinals, Indigo Buntings, Cat Birds, Turkeys, Warblers, Gnat Catchers, Ducks among many others fly through out the layers of vegetation and fill the woods with songs all day long. Whitetail deer, rabbits, and squirrels also abound.
The forest floor as well as the understory are also full of berries this time of year. Black Raspberries, Dogwood Berries, Mulberries, Chokecherries, and Goose Berries are quite an abundant food supply for forest life or the hiker who can positively identify the plants. These plants produce their fruit in hopes that some passing animal will eat them and carry the seeds to new locations.