Woodlands

The community of greatest area at Shaw Nature Reserve is the woodland, dominated by oak and hickory trees. The woodland is of two types. That part of Shaw Nature Reserve north of the Trail House has rolling hills, broad valleys, and meandering streams and is similar to Missouri north of the Missouri River. The part between the Trail House and the Meramec River has steeper hills and ridges and narrow valleys with intermittent streams and is similar to the Ozarks. This area of steeper topography may also be called an Ozark Upland Forest. The greater relief in this area is due to the downcutting action of the Meramec River during the past 2.5 million years. Many species of plants and animals endemic to the Ozarks are found in this area. The ridges and upper slopes of this area have thinner soil and support different species of trees and herbaceous plants than the lower slopes and valleys with their deeper soil.

White-tailed deer, red and gray squirrels, and wild turkey are common animals of the woodland since they feed on acorns and hickory nuts. Bedrock and bluffs exposed in the upland forest are of the Ordovician Period, about 450 million years old. Woodchucks and cottontail rabbits are found in the border area of woods and meadows. Raccoons, opossums, and striped skunk are also members of this community, but are seldom seen because of their nocturnal habits. The varied topography and great diversity of trees, spring wildflowers, and animal life make this area popular with both the serious nature student and those who enjoy an outing in a beautiful and quiet natural area. The woodland is especially beautiful from March to June, with a succession of over 250 species of wildflowers blooming in varied habitats.

At Shaw Nature Reserve we use fire to restore our woodlands to their original state with mature trees and open forest floors. Before we can begin using fire in a woodland that has been without natural fire for many years we must first remove invasive species such as bush honeysuckle and Eastern red cedar.

 

 

Meadows

Shaw Nature Reserve has large areas of meadows situated on gently rolling to nearly flat land and dotted with large cedar and hardwood trees of the upland forest.  These meadows were once badly eroded cropland or pastures which have been restored by sound management practices.  They are mowed often enough to prevent them from returning to forest.  The herbaceous flora range from native Missouri plants to Eurasian meadow species.  The trees in the meadows have a fuller growth pattern because of the abundance of sunlight, giving the meadows a park-like appearance.  Bird life is abundant in the meadows, especially along the forest edge, making the meadows good birding areas.  Red-tailed hawks are commonly seen soaring over the meadows in search of white-footed mice and other prey. White-tailed deer are often seen grazing in the meadows, singly and in herds as large as 15.  The Pinetum near the entrance of Shaw Nature Reserve is maintained as a meadow.

Pinetum

Near the entrance to Shaw Nature Reserve is this extensive collection of native and exotic conifers, set in a 19th century English landscape design around a three-acre lake. Included in the collection are Norway spruce, bald cypress and white pine with accent plantings of dogwood, redbud, and magnolia. In the spring, thousands of daffodils grace the Pinetum meadows.

The Pinetum, located between the Visitor Center and the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, is a collection of conifers planted between 1925 and 1927. Driving around the .8 mile Pinetum Loop Road, which is open to cars daily, you will see signs identifying groups of conifers. At the center of the Pinetum is the four-acre Pinetum Lake. Pinetum Lake offers a romanitic setting for weddings. The rolling meadows of this park-like area are covered in thousands of daffodils in early spring.

Groves of evergreens dot the landscape and beautiful, majestic bald cypress reflect in Pinetum Lake.

The conifers include magnificent Norway Spruce, Bald Cypress, and graceful White Pine grouped to form pleasant vistas throughout the rolling landscape. Accent plantings of Dogwood, Redbud, and Magnolia are interspersed among the evergreens. In spring, thousands of daffodils bloom throughout the Pinetum meadows, to be followed by Ox-Eye Daisies, Butterfly Weed, and other native and exotic wildflowers.

The Pinetum is a 55-acre, park-like expanse of meadows containing groves of conifers from around the Northern Hemisphere. In spring it comes alive with innumerable daffodils and colorful flowering trees. In recent years, as the non-native conifers age and die, native short-leaf pines have been planted and native broadleaf trees and grasses and wildflowers have been promoted in the area.

Many species of birds are attracted by the conifers, as well as gray and red fox squirrels. A profusion of insects inhabit the meadows. Pinetum Lake teems with several species of frogs, fish, turtles, water snakes, crayfish, and minute and microscopic water life.

Bottomland Forest

Bottomland forest at Shaw Nature Reserve is best represented by 160 acres in the flood plain of the Meramec River. Characteristic trees in this area are sycamore, cottonwood, silver maple, elm, and box elder. These species need bare soil for their seeds to germinate. The frequent flooding of the Meramec provides this bare soil by washing leaves away and depositing a layer of silt as the flood water recedes. The deep alluvial soil provides adequate moisture for tree growth even in the driest years, resulting in a fast-growing forest of immense trees. Masses of Bluebells, Trout Lily, Blue Phlox, and False Rue Anemone make a spectacular display here in spring. In geological terms, the flood plain is a youthful area in a state of constant change. The river bed is slowly moving southward, creating on the north bank a series of ridges and troughs which are a visible record of the gradual change in the river's course.

The bottomland forest can be reached by parking at the Trail House, #8 on your trail map, and walking down the  two-and-a-half-mile loop Goddard River Trail to the Natural Area, #14.