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Title: Information Sheet, Glover Archbold Park, Washington, D.C.

Glover Archbold Park, Washington, D.C.

Glover Archbold Park (GAP) is a 183-acre “finger park” of the national park Rock Creek Park (DC Online 2001).   The Park is about 2.6 miles long and 0.25 mile wide at its widest part and runs from Van Ness Street south to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.   The Park includes Foundry Branch and much of its valley, tributaries of the Branch, Glover Park Community Garden, and two periodically mowed open areas.   Charles C. Glover (a former Riggs Bank executive) and Anne Archbold (an heiress of Standard Oil of New Jersey) donated the land to Washington, D.C., in 1924, to be used as a bird sanctuary.   Foundary Branch might have been named after one of Georgetown’s larger companies Foxhall Foundry (originally Foxall Foundry) which produced cannons and munitions from 1803 through 1854.   I’ve been observing the southern part of GAP since 1975.

The Park is a small, stressed nature preserve which is essentially encircled by buildings. It still harbors many native species, but also too many aggressive, alien species.   To my knowledge, there is no comprehensive list of organisms of GAP yet.   This Park may have about 5000 bacterial, 100 archean, 100 protistan, 500 vascular-plant, 500 fungus, 5,000 invertebrate, 40 bird, six amphibian, four reptile, and 10 mammal species.   This Park harbors native tool-using Aphaenogaster ants as well as many other ant species.   Unfortunately scores of aggressive, alien, invasive plant species are overrunning many areas of the Park, but in recent years people have been removing individuals of these plants.   They include Amur Honeysuckle (a bush honeysuckle) Asiatic Bittersweet, bamboo, English Ivy, Garlic-mustard, Japanese Honeysuckle, Lesser Celandine, Multiflora Rose, privet, Turf-lily, and Wineberry.   Species that are evidently now extinct in the Park include American Elk, Beaver, Bison, Black Bear, clubmosses, Cougar, Coyote, fish in Foundry Branch, Timber Wolf, and Trailing Arbutus (which I saw in the Park in the 1970s).   In 2002, I thought that the Eastern Box Turtle was also extinct in GAP, but in October 2003, students and I found a young male in the Park.

Flowers occur throughout the warm season in the Park, with an abundance of late-winter and spring flowers (= spring ephemerals), including the Spring-beauty and main food of the Erigenia Andrena Bee.   Lesser Celandine was rare in the Park in the 1970s, and it now grows in large carpets of shiny green leaves and beautiful bright yellow flowers in late winter and spring.   This plant may be pleasing to one’s eye, but it is devastating wildlife in parts of the Park.   In the 1970s, I found Trailing Arbutus (a very rare local plant) in the Park, but it disappeared from its original site.   I searched for it in 2002, but could not find it.  

Thousands of species occur in the water, dry streambed, and along the shores of Foundry Branch.   When the Branch’s water is low, its streambed has small ponds which team with life including algae, aquatic insects such sas water striders, bacteria, and protistans, although the water may be highly polluted from road and driveway runoff.   In summer and early fall of 2002, the Branch’s water level was very low.   In October 2002, Michael Bernstein and I found many alien and native plant species in the streambed including the alien Asiatic Waterpepper, Common Chickweed, and the tropical fruit tree Papaya (one seedling) which perhaps grew from a seed that washed into the stream from road runoff.   Strong stream flow after November rains, washed away some of these plants.

The amount of precipitation varies among years. The GAP was very wet in 2003. In 2006, the Park was dry in July and August. Ample rain in September and October helped to promote growth of 1000s of fungal sporocarps. The Park’s soil was moist throughout 2009.

Park birds include the Blue Jay, Common Crow, Kentucky Warbler, Mockingbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Screech Owl, Starling, Veery, and Yellow-throated Vireo.   Bird enthusiasts have conducted a breeding-bird census in part of GAP for about 40 years.   This is one of the very old U.S. biological surveys.

The Foundry Branch is a shadow of its former self.   Years ago it had cleaner water and probably ran throughout the year, being feed by precipitation and many springs.   People filled in many of the springs in the 1950s.   Currently, the Branch stops running during dry periods.   Much street runoff and possibly some sewage flow into the Branch.   This runoff is a toxic cocktail of fertilizer, grime, oil, and pesticides.   The Branch runs through a pipe under Canal Road, New Mexico Road, and Reservoir Road.

A storm drain (large concrete pipe), that is about 90 years old, runs across and along the Branch and is partly above the ground in some areas.   A buried sanitary sewer pipe, constructed in the 1970s, also runs along the stream and in the stream bed, and sewage vents, which sometimes leak odorous gases, arise in and near the stream.   Some of the vents might also arise from the storm drain.

Biologically, GAP is essentially a partially depauperate, habitat island almost totally surrounded by residential neighborhoods.   Much of its acreage is a dense forest comprising many tall native trees (including Eastern Cottonwoods, Eastern Sycamores, Northern Red Oaks, Tuliptrees, and White Oaks), shrubs, and other organisms.   The Park has trees that may be as old as 200 years (DC Online 2001).   I saw about four tall Virginia Pines in the southern part of GAP near Georgetown University in the 1970s through the early 2000s.   In the southern part of GAP, sthe last one died in 2001.   These Pines may have sprouted in the Park when it was open land, as shown in some paintings of the area from the 1800s.   Virginia Pines are early successional trees which die when their natal forests become more mature.

My lab published papers based on studies in this Park (below).   In fall 2002, my Forest Ecology class made some observations on the Park.   Some of the organisms that occur in GAP can be found on this site by using keywords: Glover-Archbold and the names of the organisms and searching taxonomic families, genera, and species.

Some of the material in this information page is based on a conversation that I had with Mr. Bill Yeaman (National Park Service, November 2002).

My book Nature, Gardens, and Georgetown (2006) includes a chapter and other information on Glover Archbold Park.

E. M. Barrows (November 2002, last updated on 14 January 2010)


Barrows, E. M. 1978b. Male patrolling and sexual behavior in Andrena erigeniae (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae) with comparative notes. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 51: 798–805.

Barrows, E. M. and M. E. Hooker. 1981. Parasitization of Mexican Bean Beetles in urban vegetable gardens. Environmental Entomology 10: 782–786.

Barrows, E. M., J. De Filippo, and M. Tavallali. 1983. A survey of urban gardener knowledge of arthropods in their gardens. Pages 107–126 in G. W. Frankie and C. S. Koehler, eds., Urban Entomology: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Praeger Press, New York, NY. 493 pp.

DC Online. 2001. Trail Guide. Page 4. Internet file. (15 November 2002)

Lanigan, P. J. and E. M. Barrows. 1977. Sexual behavior in Murgantia histrionica (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Psyche 84: 191–197.

LaPlaca Reese, C. S. and E. M. Barrows. 1980. Coevolution of Claytonia virginica (Portulacaceae) and its main native pollinator, Andrena erigeniae (Andrenidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 82: 685–694.

Lazri, B. and E. M. Barrows. 1984. Flower visiting and pollen transport by the Imported Cabbage Butterfly in a highly disturbed habitat. Environmental Entomology 13: 574–578.

Venables, B. A., and E. M. Barrows. 1985. Skippers: Pollinators or nectar thieves? Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 39: 299–312.

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