Agricultural Control Chemicals by Gould R.F. (ed.)

By Gould R.F. (ed.)

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This can be beneficial if ferns suppress exotic weeds, but can have a negative impact on the shrub, understory tree, and canopy regeneration if fern colonies are too dense and too extensive. Herbaceous Plants 45 The beauty of living process: recycling organic material on the ground layer of a Delaware woodland in winter. The Ground Layer Except where it is clothed with plants, the ground layer and its intricate living processes are often overlooked in gardening circles, yet the events that occur here are among the most important to life in the entire ecosystem.

This most commonly occurs when a stream or creek runs through the woods, suppressing tree growth and creating a linear opening in the canopy, or at an interface where tree growth is rather abruptly stopped by constantly wet conditions or deep water. The latter type of edge is typically created by rivers, lakes, or ponds. Vegetated edges reduce erosion and help reduce water temperatures in summer, contributing to the health of the habitat. Plants arrange themselves in response to a moisture gradient combined with changes in available sunlight.

Similarly, some shrub species are capable of reaching exceptional heights and developing stems many inches in diameter under ideal conditions. Genetic variability within a species can also determine whether individual plants or individual populations (ecotypes) are likely to be more shrublike or treelike. Even in healthy shrub layers, it’s common for one or just a few species to dominate large areas. Close observation of the composition and structure within layers often reveals that a given species will often occupy a particular niche, or left Roseshell azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum) adds color and sweet fragrance to the shrub layer of a West Virginia woodland in May, growing nearly 8 feet tall under a canopy primarily comprised of chestnut oak (Quercus montana).

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