Ask the Steward

By Dan Ernst


Question:  How many Indiana towns are named after trees?

Answer:  There are approximately 567 cities, towns and villages in Indiana and I’ve found 40+ (State Highway map) that have some connection to woodlands or specific trees. With the vast majority of Indiana being forested at time of settlement I expected a good representation.  However, given our State’s early history where forest land was cleared at a dizzying pace I was not sure what I would find.  Among the woodland references are Greenwood, Forest, and Woodburn.  There are 30 communities mentioning a specific tree genus or species. They are: 

Ash Grove, Ashland, Beech Grove, Beechwood, Bur Oak (actually 2 named Bur Oak), Cedar Grove, Cedar Lake, Cherry Grove, Dogwood, Fair Oaks, Ironwood, Linden, Oakford, Oak Park, Oakland City, Oak Forest, Oaklandon, Oaktown, Oakville, Pine Village, Poplar Grove, Plum Village, Quercus Grove, Sassafras, Town of Pines, Walnut, Walnut Grove, Willow Branch, Willow Valley.

Closing note and an interesting tidbit: By 1900, less than 2 million acres of Indiana’s original 23 million acres or woodlands remained.  Through hard times and good conservation efforts, Indiana’s forests have rebounded to approximately 4.5 million acres today.  On a percentage of land basis, Indiana is about 20% forested, the same as Colorado!


Question: I saw my first set of fawn triplets recently.  How common are triplets?

Answer: While not as common as single or twin births, mature whitetail deer in the Midwest will occasionally produce triplets and they are a real treat to behold.  First year moms (bred as fawns) typically have single births, although most fawns do not breed.  Twins are common for does over 1.5 years old.  Most does in Indiana will give birth in May and June, with fawns weighing in at 6-8 pounds. Triplets generally being on the lighter side as you would expect.   The fawns can stand and nurse within 30 minutes and walk within a few hours.  By about 3 weeks of age they will be able to outrun most dangers.  The 1st week of life is toughest and those that succeed have a good chance at longer survival.   The characteristic spotting averages about 300 spots/ fawn are unique to each and generally disappear within 3-4 months of birth.  By November this year’s fawns will have grown to 75-85 pounds, with males being 5-10 pounds heavier than females.  For the keen observer, bucks can be distinguished from does even as fawns.  Look for two rounded spots between the ears and eyes.  Enjoy the show!

Dan Ernst is an Assistant State Forester with the Indiana Division of Forestry. He oversees the state forests in Indiana and has authored the “Ask the Steward” column for years. Have a question for the column? Email Dan at