Urban Forest Dweller name: Ruby
Scientific name: Acer rubrum
Where: Huguenot Woods
Why remarkable: Survivability
Notes: We do not often encounter a living tree that can be climbed by any old pedestrian, but this remarkable tree is just that. See how this Red maple (Acer rubrum) in some long past storm or flood was laid over to the riverbank? Undaunted, it braced itself with one arm on the bed of the river and has ever since lived in perfect health as a mostly horizontal tree. When damage like this occurs to the top of a tree, or something affects its vertical reach, often a side limb will take over as the dominant stem. Notice how the limb growing off the top of this tree almost looks like it is developing a root flair against the primary stem — like a tree on a tree. Be sure you go to visit this one with your kids and dogs. It is absolutely begging to be enjoyed. There aren’t many opportunities like this to walk your way right into the canopy of a tree.
Diameter: about 3 feet.
Height: Funny question for this tree. Length, which is usually height for a tree, is about 45 ft but sideways into the river.
Altitude: which is also normally “height” for a tree, is about 25 ft above the waterline.
How to find: Walk the Riverside Trail of Huguenot Woods in the James River Park System and look for Ruby at the river’s edge towards the eastern end of the trail. The map below only shows general position. The tree is on the river bank.