In the mesic habitat (a moist, hardwood forest with rich, fertile soil), we found the beautiful tree for which Cascade Springs is best known, the big-leaf magnolia. It grows there in unusual abundance. A breathtaking sight is sunlight streaming through a big leaf’s 12- to -30-inch-long leaves, the largest simple leaves of any native tree in North America.
We also identified other mesic forest indicator species — American beech, tulip poplar, Southern sugar maple and Northern red oak.
The presence of trees like sycamore, American hornbeam and sweet gum indicated that we were in a riparian forest. Likewise, white oaks, hickories and loblolly pines meant that we had entered an oak-pine-hickory habitat.
IN THE SKY: The moon will be first quarter on Monday. Mercury is low in the west around sunset. Venus is low in the east just before sunrise. Mars is very low in the west around dusk and sets about an hour later. Jupiter rises in the east around midnight; Saturn rises in the east a few hours later.