Welcome to the Web of Species Winter Nature Walk through Wellesley's
campus! We begin on the lawn of the Houghton Memorial Chapel,
which was completed in 1899. The dominant natural habitat on
this part of campus is a glade,
a parklike area with fully grown trees but no understory, like
there would be in a forest. We'll see several other habitats
during our walk today.
In front of us is the side of the chapel, and Billings is on
our right. Flanking the side door of the chapel are two red
maples. Let's step closer. If it were any other season, the
tree would be easily recognizable by its red-stemmed leaves.
This time of year you can distinguish red maple by the red buds
on the end of its branches and by the bark, which is rough and
maple bark forms larger, non-flaky plates. The branches are
opposite, like those of all maples. Red maple swamps are the
most common type of swamp in New England.
Look at the side of the chapel! A chickadee is foraging for Virginia
creeper berries. Virginia creeper covers many buildings
on campus. Its blue berries are prized by winter birds, but
they are toxic to humans. Native Americans made tea from the
plant and used it to treat jaundice. If we get right up to
the wall, you can see the disk-tipped tendrils that help the
plant climb walls.
Let's start walking again, leaving the chapel on our left and
heading across the road (watch for the Senate bus) toward the
lake. As we walk, notice the row of sugar maples along the path.
Their very age shows that they were planted along this path over
a hundred years ago, back in the early days of the College.