Chapel Lawn

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 flaky. Sugar 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.




Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005