Site 4: United States Naval Academy - Japanese Cutleaf Maple

Japanese Cutleaf Maple -- United States Naval Academy United States Naval Academy

Founded in 1845, the U.S.N.A. stretches over 250 acres where the Severn River meets Spa Creek. The Visitor’s Center, just inside Gate 1, offers an informative walking tour for those interested in the history of the Academy.

Trees of Note

One of the best Academy sites for viewing trees are the grounds just across from the Navy Chapel. The Chapel is a landmark image as part of the City’s skyline. Facing the park you will see the band gazebo on your right and Herndon monument on your left.

Just in front of the gazebo is a large yellow buckeye (a plaque identifies it), others of this type are located in a group at the far left of the park. Yellow buckeye trees usually have a straight trunk with a small crown, and can attain heights of 60-90 feet. Just to the right of this buckeye is a large scarlet oak.

Surrounding the Herndon monument are three tulip poplars. One shows evidence of being stressed, since each year the “rising” plebe class attempts to remove a cap placed on the top of the monument. Their effort is made ever more difficult by the huge quantity of lard coating the monument from top to bottom!

Continuing to the left of the monument, you will notice a very old, shrubby Japanese cut-leaf maple. This tree is particularly beautiful in the fall. If you continue in this direction to the edge of the park and turn to your right (toward the water), you will notice two very large trees next to the street. These are both oak trees. The one whose leaves have sharp tips is a northern red oak, while the one with rounded lobes is a white oak.

If you look to the back left corner of the park, you should see an attractive bald cypress. These trees are most often found in swampy areas where their roots grow in bumps or nodules above the ground (called “knees”). Although a conifer, bald cypress is not an evergreen, for its leaves and small immature twigs are shed each fall.

On the opposite side of the park you will see a statue of Tecumseh, a figurehead from a wooden battleship destroyed at the Norfolk Naval Yard in 1861 to prevent her from falling into Confederate hands. The figure was supposed to be that of Indian chief, Tamanend of the Delaware tribe, but someone called it Tecumseh and the name stuck. This is a bronze cast but the original wooden figurehead is preserved in USNA’s Luce Hall. Today the middies often paint this statue in various ways before major athletic events.

The walkway leading to this area is lined with willow oaks and tulip poplars (sometimes called tuliptrees). Tuliptrees are among the tallest and most beautiful of the native eastern hardwoods. The walkway bisecting the park (from the Chapel towards the river) is lined with many of these majestic trees.

Returning to the front of the park, you should notice the grove of holly trees on the far right side. These are believed to be the largest holly trees in Annapolis.

Other areas on the Academy grounds of special note include the street border of ginkgos lining Worden Field and a relatively secluded cemetery located next to the hospital. An Eastern white pine grows just next to the road on the slope leading up to this area. In the cemetery is a dawn redwood, as well as some old chestnut oaks and southern red oaks. The cemetery also has a monument to the Arctic Steamer Jeanette, which was locked in a northern ice field in the 1870’s with only a few survivors to tell the tale. There is also a European larch and weeping hemlock on the slope near the hospital.

Next To continue your tour, exit from Gate 3 and proceed one block to King George Street. The Hammond Harwood house will be directly across King George on the left side of Maryland Avenue.


Last updated on November 20, 2001.

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