This is a specific question for a very specific and unique area, but I am posting anyway in hopes that someone might be able to point me in the right direction for some answers. I’ll provide as much detail as I can:
There is an area in Charlotte, NC with a very unique patch of woods. It was the former site of a wastewater plant built in 1929 due to Little Sugar Creek running through the area, with sewage piping running through the forested area. The farmland next to it steadily became suburbs during the late '50’s, and the water treatment plant changed locations slightly. Now there is a trail maintained by a biking organization running through the former property, often called the “poo trails” by locals because of the smell you can sometimes encounter from the former sewage.
The area is also overrun by ornamental plants that have escaped cultivation throughout the lifetime of the nearby suburbs. These invasive plants are very established, but there are many native plants that still thrive, including many oaks, maples, beeches, poplars, pines, and hickory. Overall, the area has still escaped becoming a monoculture of exotics, an impressive feat in urban Charlotte.
Since beginning my exploration of this area, I began to notice the junipers (Juniperus virginiana). Or, rather, the lack of them. It’s not that there aren’t any, they’re all just…dead. More often than not I’ll find skeleton trunks that are long gone, and I suspect the only reason they haven’t crumbled into woodchips by now is their special resistance to rot. Most of them are young, but a few closer to the center of the woods are the oldest I’ve found so far, also long dead. It’s started to concern me. I know this isn’t natural for most wild areas here, due to my own observations at other sites further away from urbanization, preserves in particular. They’re known to be fairly hardy trees, and tolerant to many kinds of conditions.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the expertise to even know where to begin with this mystery, but if there’s any chance someone on here has any idea, has observed something similar, or can suggest some next steps I could take to gather more information, I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to ask for photos or any more details, I’ll be happy to provide it.
Thanks for stopping by to read my beast of a post, and long live our indigenous plants!