Forest Park is stretched along the south bank of the Trinity River (map of park6), and because periodic flooding has been common to the whole area, the woody plants of Forest Park are very similar to those in the nearby Overton Park and Trinity Park.  Bur oaks, hackberries, cedar elms, bumelias, green ash, pecans, and American elms are common and distinctive trees.  Forest Park and the Fort Worth Zoo are essentially a single park, but the Zoo area is not covered here.  At its western end, the park is across the street the golf course of the Colonial Country Club and essentially continuous with it. 

            It’s interesting to see the old channel of the Trinity River, before it was channelized, loop into and out of the park like a naturally occurring oxbow.  The inlet near the Miniature Train Depot is crossed by a concrete bridge; the other inlet further down the river is crossed by the Miniature RR Bridge.  A number of species in Forest Park are found only along the banks of the oxbow. (Forest Park photos)


Log Cabin Woods

            This is the beautiful wooded area (with picnic tables scattered through) in front of the Log Cabin Village (LCV map), bounded on the west and north by Colonial Parkway (Rogers Ave.) and on the east by University Drive.  About 90% of the trees are cedar elms -- with scattered large pecans, bur oaks, American elms, and bumelias.  Near the road is a cluster of hackberries (look at the great variation in the appearance of the trunks -- some are densely warty, others much less so), and near the northwestern corner is a cluster of green ashes.  An usually tall and straight-trunked red mulberry grows near the northwestern corner, as well as a nearby white mulberry.  A few redbuds and chinkapin oaks have been planted in a small opening, and at least one bur oak has been planted. 


            A honey locust is easily the most unusual tree to be seen here.  Look along the road facing the golf course, near the turn to Log Cabin Village –– the branches slightly overhang the road, and the tree is easy to see from a car if you drive along slowly.  The compound leaves with small leaflets are distinctive, but the trunk is crowded with clusters of long, thick, stiff thorns (the branches also are thorny).  Honey locust trees are common inhabitants of bottomlands in this area, but they are “dangerous-looking” (see photos) and I’m guessing that most of them were removed during the establishment of Fort Worth parks along the Trinity River.  A young one can be seen along the inlet banks near the RR Depot and it seems likely that a few might also be found within the undeveloped woods (the “Thicket”) of Trinity Park,


Pecan Field and the Legacy Plantings

            Across the double-laned Colonial Parkway from the Log Cabin Woods is a large open field, bordered on the north by the Trinity River.  All of the large trees (except two) scattered through the field are pecans, surely the reflection of someone who liked that species when the rest of the trees were cleared.  The other two are persimmons (see below).  Paralleling the river is a thicket of large pecans and American elms with younger trees, with lots of Quihoui privet and vines at the edge.  Hackberries and chinaberries are common along here, a tall cottonwood grows from downslope, and ashes, soapberries, ash-leaf maples, mimosas, and white mulberries also are scattered through.  A thick-leaved redbud probably is native, different from those with thinner leaves planted within the Log Cabin Woods. 


            A group of smaller trees is conspicuous in a narrow band between the “Pecan Field” and the road.  These were planted as Fort Worth’s All America City Legacy Forest –– a ground-level permanent stone marker among the trees notes “To commemorate the dedication and commitment by the citizens of Fort Worth and our local government for making our city an All America City, 1993-1994.”  Here is a disparate collection of Chinese pistacios, Chinese elms, live oaks, Shumard oaks, redbuds, and several bur oaks and cedar elms, all planted closely together. 


            On the same side of the road as the “Legacy Forest,” but separated and more toward University Drive, is a tall persimmon tree.  This tree (in May 2009) had obvious health problems, as all of the leaves were small and slightly yellowish -- in July 09 it looks nearly dead.  Two other large persimmons in Pecan Field are very close to this one and, in contrast, are healthy (see photos).  All three trees have blackish bark broken up into small squarish blocks, a distinction for of species.  Like the honey locust (above), it’s curious why persimmons, beautiful native trees, are not more common in Fort Worth’s naturally wooded parks. 


Sports Field

            The broad sports field is bordered on the south side by a broad band of trees and shrubs, with lots of diversity -- the zoo is on the other side, across the densely wooded drainage.  Both American elm and slippery (red) elm grow along here -- the upper surfaces of the slippery elm leaves are rough, compared to the very smooth surfaces of the American elm leaves.  Other common species are bur oak, hackberry, pecan, ash-leaf maple, chinaberry, and cedar elm, with a few redbud, white mulberry, red mulberry, and walnut.  Quihoui privet is abundant and glossy privet also is here.  Lots of elderberry.  An interesting group of invasive species is in the deep drainage near the Zoo administration area -- a mimosa, Chinese pistacio, and a parasol tree.  

            Out in the field, in a cluster near the small bleachers, are pecans, a Shumard oak, and several young live oaks. 


Railroad Loop Area to the Train Depot and along the track to the RR Bridge

            Probably the most interesting “tree walk” in Forest Park is from the RR Loop Area, following the sidewalk to the Train Depot, and then on beside the train tracks as far as the RR Bridge over the inlet.  From one end to the other is about 0.4 mile. 


            At the RR Loop Area, the little grove of trees along the parking area has cedar elms, pecans, and bumelias, and beside the parking lot at the sidewalk are a few large Chinese pistacios.  Bur oak, hackberry, and soapberry are scattered in the area, and along the sidewalk toward to the RR Depot are pecans, green ash, soapberry American elm, and Shumard oak.


            From the bridge at the RR Depot, looking into the inlet, lots of interesting species grow along the sides of the water -- catalpa, green ash, ash-leaf maple are the most common and honey locust and cottonwood are scattered.  A large individual of mesquite and one of paloverde also can be easily seen here.  Rough dogwood, baccharis, and Eve’s necklace are common shrubs right in this area. 


            A diverse mixture of natives and non-natives grows in the thicket and woods along the RR tracks between the two inlets.  Trees: young persimmons, pecan, hackberry, green ash, winged elm, bur oak, chinaberry, white mulberry, and bumelia; several large sycamores can be seen along the oxbow where it comes close to the tracks.  Shrubs: smooth sumac, rough dogwood, quihoui privet.  Vines: Japanese honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, fox grape, racoon grape, and Virginia creeper.  A beautiful population of purple-flowered Western ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii) is in flower in early July right along the tracks. 


            Looking into the inlet from the RR bridge, catalpa, green ash, ash-leaf maple are very common along the banks.  A group of nutria apparently live in the area and can be seen around the wood and water just at the bridge. 


            A ride on the Forest Park Miniature Railroad is wonderful –– the trip runs 5 miles in about 40 minutes, beginning at the FP Depot, crossing three bridges and chugs along all the way to the Duck Pond in Trinity Park before heading back.  It’s especially fun for a naturalist who already can identify some of the trees, because the train passes right beside so many of the species. 




Acer negundo                             Ash-leaf maple, box elder                      Native here, naturally occurring 

Albizia julibrissin                         Mimosa                                            Non-native, naturalized

Bumelia lanuginosa                     Chittamwood, gum bumelia                   Native here, naturally occurring 

Carya illinoiensis                         Pecan                                               Native here, naturally occurring

Catalpa speciosa                         Northern catalpa                                 Native mostly to n USA, naturalized here

Celtis laevigata                           Hackberry                                         Native here, naturally occurring 

Cercis canadensis                       Redbud                                             Native here, naturally occurring 

Diospyros virginiana                    Persimmon                                         Native here, naturally occurring 

Fraxinus pennsylvanica                Green ash                                          Native here, naturally occurring 

Firmiana simplex                                 Parasol tree                                        Non-native, naturalized

Gleditsia triacanthos                    Honey locust                                     Native here, naturally occurring 

Juglans nigra                               Black walnut                                      Native here, naturally occurring 

Melia azederach                         Chinaberry                                        Non-native, naturalized

Morus alba                                 White mulberry                                  Non-native, naturalized

Morus rubra                               Red mulberry                                     Native here, naturally occurring 

Platanus occidentalis                   Sycamore                                          Native here, naturally occurring 

Populus deltoides                        Cottonwood                                      Native here, naturally occurring 

Prosopis glandulosa                     Mesquite                                          Native here, naturally occurring 

Prunus caroliniana                       Cherry laurel                                      Native to south Texas, naturalized here

Quercus muehlenbergii                Chestnut oak, chinkapin oak                 Native to Texas, planted here

Quercus macrocarpa                   Bur oak                                             Native here, naturally occurring 

Quercus shumardii                      Shumard oak                                      Native here, naturally occurring 

Quercus fusiformis                      Live oak                                            Native to central Texas, planted, probably hybrids

Salix nigra                                  Black willow                                       Native here, naturally occurring 

Sapindus drummondii                   Soapberry                                                       Native here, naturally occurring 

Ulmus alata                                Winged elm                                       Native here, naturally occurring 

Ulmus americana                        American elm                                     Native here, naturally occurring 

Ulmus crassifolia                        Cedar elm                                          Native here, naturally occurring 

Ulmus parvifolia                          Chinese elm                                       Non-native, planted




Baccharis neglecta                      Roosevelt weed                                  Native here, naturally occurring 

Cornus drummondii                     Rough dogwood                                 Native here, naturally occurring 

Ligustrum lucidum                       Glossy privet                                     Non-native, naturalized

Ligustrum quihoui                        Quihoui privet                                    Non-native, naturalized

Ligustrum sinense                       Chinese privet                                    Non-native, naturalized

Parkinsonia aculeata                   Palo verde                                         Native to s Texas, naturalized here

Rhus glabra                                Smooth sumac                                               Native here, naturally occurring 

Sambucus canadensis                  Elderberry                                         Native here, naturally occurring 

Sophora affinis                            Eve’s necklace                                   Native here, naturally occurring 




Ampelopsis cordata                     Racoon grape                                                 Native here, naturally occurring 

Campsis radicans                        Trumpet creeper                                 Native here, naturally occurring 

Lonicera japonica                        Japanese honeysuckle                                 Non-native, naturalized

Parthenocissus quinquefolia         Virginia creeper                                  Native here, naturally occurring 

Smilax bona-nox                         Catbrier                                                           Native here, naturally occurring 

Smilax rotundifolia                       Catbrier                                                           Native here, naturally occurring 

Toxicodendron radicans               Poison ivy                                         Native here, naturally occurring 

Vitis mustangensis                      Mustang grape                                   Native here, naturally occurring 

Vitis vulpina                                Fox grape                                          Native here, naturally occurring 



Guy Nesom,

Last update 14 July 2009