University of Florida Conservation Area Land Management Plan
McCarty Woods is a 2.9-acre Conservation Area located on the northwest comer of Museum Road
and Newell Drive. This site contains a disturbed upland hardwood dominated forest, bisected with
paths for pedestrians. The primary use of the property has been by academic departments such as
Botany Department for plant identification, due to its close proximity to academic buildings, and as a
respite for residents of the buildings on the northeast portion of campus, since this is the closest natural
area to the older parts of campus.
According to the 2000-2010 Campus Master Plan, McCarty Woods (Preservation Area 18) should be
preserved because of its use as a teaching laboratory and research material resource. Additionally, the
Master Plan states that these areas would greatly benefit from a restoration program that would remove
invasive non-native species, primarily cat-claw vine and cherry laurel, that dominate the understory and
replant with native species.
Natural Areas Inventory
McCarty Woods does not contain any permanent water features, but does provide some water
resource protection, through recharge to the surficial aquifer and stormwater abatement. These
woods are in the Lake Alice watershed, where stormwater is an important issue. The University is
interested in exploring ways to incorporate new technologies into sites that will retain and percolate
water. In this light, portions on the northern side, adjacent to parking areas should be looked at for
potential retention area to treat water coming off the parking lots and streets.
McCarty Woods is comprised primarily of a mesic / upland-mixed hardwood forest. Generally,
upland mixed forests are characterized as well-developed, closed-canopy forests of upland
hardwoods on rolling hills. Upland mixed forests often have limestone or phosphatic rock near the
surface and occasionally as outcrops. Soils are generally sandy-clays or clayey sands with substantial
organic and often calcareous components. In larger, less strenuous conditions, mesic forests typically
support significant wildlife and plant diversity, which result from the nutrient rich nature of
hardwood forests and flowering and fruiting plants.
The canopy of McCarty Woods is comprised of laurel and basket oaks, ash, sweet gum, pignut
hickory, redbay, basswood and hornbeam. The understory is highly disturbed due to being
maintained as lawn until approximately twenty years ago. The current understory is dominated by
saplings of cherry laurel with vines of catbriar and skunkvine. Despite the disturbed condition of the
understory, several unusual plant species are present, such as guinea-hen weed (Petiveria alliacea
L.) and baby rouge plant (Rivina humilis L.). While neither the Federal Department of Agriculture
nor the United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists these plants as endangered or threatened, they
are considered rare and unusual by university botanists. McCarty Woods is also the location of
several champion trees. According to Dr. Daniel Ward, a National Champion (a national registry,
americanforests.org, the largest known specimens of every native and naturalized tree in the United
States) one-flowered haw (Crataegus unifloraMuench.) is located along the southern edge of the
woods. Also found within the woods is a Florida Champion white ash (Fraxinus americana L.)(the
largest recorded specimen in Florida).
Common canopy trees include Carya glabra (Pignut Hickory), Celtis laevigata (Sugarberry),
Fraxinus americana (White Ash), Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum), Prunus caroliniana
(Carolina Laurel Cherry), Quercus michauxii (Basket Oak) and Ulmus alata (Winged Elm). Also
present are Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud), Osmanthus americanus (Wild Olive),
Ostrya virginiana (Eastern Hophombeam), Persea borbonia (Red Bay), Prunus umbellata
(Flatwoods Plum), Quercus hemisphaerica (Upland Laurel Oak), Sabalpalmetto (Cabbage Palm)
and Tilia americana var. caroliniana (Carolina Basswood).
The understory is for the most part lacking in diversity, and characterized by a mix of non-native
plants and exotics. Native shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants documented include Bignonia
capreolata (Crossvine), Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry), Campsis radicans (Trumpet
Creeper), Clematis catesbyana (Satincurls), Cnidoscolus stimulosus (Tread Softly), Cynanchum
scoparium (Leafless Swallowwort), Dioscorea floridana (Florida Yam), Erythrina herbacea
(Coralbean), Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), Ipomoea cordatotriloba (Tievine), Oplismenus hirtellus
(Woodsgrass), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper), Passiflora lutea (Yellow
Passionflower), Petiveria alliacea (Guinea Hen Weed), Phytolacca americana var. rigida (American
Beautyberry), Ruellia carolinense (Carolina Wild Petunia), Sideroxylon languinosum (Gum Bully),
several Smilax (Greenbriar) species, Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy), Vernonia gigantea (Giant
Ironweed), Viola sororia (Common Blue Violet) and Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine Grape).
A few noteworthy native species were documented in McCarty Woods. These include Arisaema
dracontium (Greendragon, an uncommon species), Clematis catesbyana (Satincurls, an uncommon
species), Dioscoreafloridana (Florida Yam, an uncommon species) and Rivinia humilis
Invasive Non-Native Plant Species
Current management of the site will need to address the cats-claw vine that dominate the under story
of this Conservation Area. Dominate invasive species include Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cats-Claw
Vine) and Tradescatiafluminensis (Wandering Jew). Ligustrum lucidum (Glossy Privet) and
Cinnamomum camphora (Camphortree) were also very common. Also encountered, but in lesser
amounts, were the following non-native species: Ardisia crenata (Scratchthroat), Citrus x aurantium
(Sour Orange), Ehretia acuminata (Koda wood), Lantana camera (Lantana),
Leucaena leucocephala (White Leadtree), Melia azedarach (Chinaberry Tree), and
Leverinia buxifolia (Chinese Boxorange).
McCarty Woods is small in size, which limits the amount of habitat for terrestrial species. The
following animal species have been documented on site: American Crow, American Goldfinch,
American Robin, Black and White Warbler, Brown-headed Cowbird, Blue Jay, Brown Thrasher,
Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Tufted
Titmouse, Fish Crow, Great Crested Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Hermit Thrush, House Finch,
Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, Red-bellied
Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-rumped
Warbler, Brown Anole, Squirrel Tree Frog, Gray Squirrel, and Raccoon.
Paths through McCarty Woods.
In general, mesic upland mixed / hardwood forests occur on rolling hills that often have limestone or
phosphatic rock near the surface and occasionally as outcrops. Soils are generally sandy-clays or
clayey sands with substantial organic and often calcareous components. The topography and clayey
soils increase surface water runoff, although this is counterbalanced by the moisture retention
properties of clays and by the often thick layer of leaf mulch which helps conserve soil moisture and
create decidedly mesic conditions (FNAI).
The following soil information for on-site soils was gathered from the Soil Survey of Alachua
Millhopper Urban Land Complex (0-5% slope)
This nearly level to gently sloping, moderately well drained soil is in small and large irregularly
shaped areas on uplands and slightly rolling knolls in the broad flatwoods. Typically, the surface
layer is dark grayish brown sand about 9 inches thick. The subsurface layer is sand or fine sand
about 49 inches thick.
Cultural and Recreational Resources
As stated previously, these woods are important areas for academic departments, due to its close
proximity to the academic buildings. However, the understory is heavily disturbed by cat-claw vine
that is overtaking the natural diversity of the understory and must be dealt with if these woods are to
maintain their usefulness as an outdoor teaching lab for the University. Two basic improvements in
the form of a kiosk and picnic tables are present in the woods. There are no known archeological or
historic sites within the Park.
McCarty Woods, due to its small size, upland habitat and central location, is considered foremost as
a Nature Park, however it is recognized that the area is also used for plant identification by the
Forestry and Botany Departments. The recommended management approach divides the woods into
part Nature Park and part Academic Preserve. Under this scenario the portion of the property
adjacent to Newell Drive would be cleared of some understory plants, primarily invasive plants
(exotic and native), and turned into a more park-like or an arboretum setting. Meanwhile, the
western half of the woods would be partitioned off (block trails, create barriers, off limits signage)
for research by various departments. Additional planned land management activities for the Nature
Park portion of the site include creating designated footpaths, controlling cat-claw vine, improving
understory diversity, preventing vehicular encroachment and identifying University departments
willing to participate in regular upkeep and management. Additionally, habitat enhancements like
bird and bat boxes and wildlife friendly plantings are recommended.
Benches in McCarty Woods
Maps on the following pages:
1. Aerial Photo
2. Water Resources
3. Natural Communities