Life in the Sunken Forest: Other Common Trees
The trees that twist and snake their way towards the sun are shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis), also know as shadbush, Juneberry and serviceberry. They were called shadblow by people living on the coast because they came into bloom around the same time that shad (a kind of fish) began its annual run up freshwater rivers and streams. The name serviceberry originated in the days when ministers had to wait until late spring--when the tree is in bloom--before they could make the rounds to remote outposts and perform religious services. You can probably guess why some called it Juneberry.
Found along the edges of the Sunken Forest--where it can get the sunlight it requires--is the black cherry (Prunus serotina). Its slightly sour, but still tasty, fruits ripen in August/September. It is quite popular with many bird species, who help scatter its seeds in their droppings. These cherries are good for making jellies and pies. Be careful, though, because the leaves, pits, and twigs contain cyanide.
There are a few remaining pitch pines (Pinus rigida) within the Sunken Forest. This is the pine found in the Long Island Pine Barrens and is the only native pine found on Fire Island. Its needles are found in clusters of three, which helps to distinguish it from the non-native Japanese black pine, which has needles in clusters of two.
Other trees to look for in the forest include black oak (Quercus velutina) and red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).
Last updated: May 17, 2018