The placement of trees was very important. They enhanced the beauty of the house, provided shade and fencing, defined areas and walkways, and shielded undesirable vistas. They also provided lumber, food (fruit) and firewood.
Trees at Rosedale included maple (some of which were planted as early as 1855), oak, pecan, elm, ash, magnolia, etc. Other, more unusual trees included sassafras, mulberry, osage orange, Chinese parasol, yellow poplar, arborvitae, and swamp chestnut oak.
In the 1840s China opened its ports to world trade. This resulted in universal interest in China and products of China, such as silks, teas, jade, incense, perfumes, exotic woods, etc. David Thomas Caldwell invested in mulberries and silkworms during the Great Silkworm Experiment. Mulberry trees still exist at Rosedale to the east of the house and drive.
Chinese Parasol Tree (Firmiana Simplex)
One of these trees is designated as a Mecklenburg County Treasure Tree. It is located in the front of the property to the east of the drive.
Mary Louise Davidson remembers her mother gathering the seed for the Chinese parasol tree from the old B. Smith property, which once stood on the site of the current Hal Marshall Building at 700 North Tryon Street.
Oriental Arborvitae (Thuza Orientalis) #12060201
Mrs. Craighead Davidson used the Oriental arborvitae as a focal point for her garden. It is unusual for such a tree to remain standing after so many years. It is included on the Mecklenburg County Treasure Tree list. Five Oriental arborvitae were planted on the grounds of the original Mint building downtown.
Green Ash (Fraxinus Pennsylvanica)
This tree is located to the east at the rear of the house and holds the state record for its size.
Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus Michauxii) #17031401
This tree, well over 110 years old, currently holds the Mecklenburg County record for size. It is an unusual tree for this area, normally preferring less dry conditions. Craighead Davidson remembered that an old friend of his uncle brought the sapling in a sack as a gift. Many farm activities probably centered around this tree. Hogs were probably hung from its branches for slaughtering and cleaning. Since a blacksmith was located nearby, horses may have been shod here.
Osage Orange (Maclura Pomifera)
There is a clump of five osage orange trees behind and to the east of the swamp chestnut oak tree. They have been designated as Mecklenburg County Treasure Trees. In their time, they were probably a living, functional fence. Barbed wire is buried in their trunks, a reflection of changing technology. Osage orange wood is very heavy, tough, strong and resilient. It was used during World War I as a source of yellow dyes. The American Indians used the wood for bows. Its value was reported when a traveler, John Bradley, mentioned that a bow made of this wood was equal to a horse and blanket. It was later used to make railroad ties and telephone posts, as well as fences.
Yellow Poplar or Tulip Tree (Tulipfera Liriendendren)
One Yellow Poplar still stands to the rear of the house. It is over 300 years old but is not a Treasure Tree because its girth is not up the the record for this type of tree. The present tree is one of two which were situated close together. The other tree was felled by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It had been hollowed out and served as a playhouse for the children and also as a tool shed at one time.