Natural Community: Chestnut Oak / Mountain Laurel Forest

Other Websites

Rock Creek Park

Rugged survivalists on a hilltop.


Created by Abby Cox, Explore Natural Communities Intern Summer 2015, NatureServe.

Music: Discovery Hit, and Scissors, by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Photo: Chestnut Oak / Mountain Laurel Forest, by Gary Fleming. Licensed under Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0


Podcast time: 1:31 minutes

Voice 1 [parody of a movie trailer]: In a world where only the tough remain and only the strongest survive, live two species.

Voice 2: Two unique and resilient plants: the hardy chestnut oak and the twisted mountain laurel.

Voice 1: Located on a flat hilltop where the soils are dry and acidic.

Voice 2: Not many trees or shrubs can survive the harsh, unfriendly environment of this natural community with its bone dry, nutrient-poor soils on rocky hilltops. These two prominent species have adapted to life here, where biodiversity is quite low compared to other natural communities in Rock Creek Park.

Voice 1: This. is. The Chestnut Oak / Mountain Laurel Forest.

Voice 2: Despite the adverse conditions found in this rugged natural community, the tough plants here still provide for wildlife. Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) has the largest acorns of any eastern U.S. oak tree. Many animals, including deer, munch on the acorns while species like birds and squirrels make their home in these giant trees. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) shows its true beauty when it blooms pink and white flowers in the spring. Throughout the winter, this evergreen shrub shows its grit by holding onto its leathery green leaves.

Voice 1: Now growing on a hilltop near you—A forest of survivors!!

back to top