Nature Society


Early February, looking north on Sandbar Trail in Tenhave Woods 

WHO ARE WE: The Royal Oak Nature Society is a volunteer group working with the City of Royal Oak to protect, maintain and promote the usage of Royal Oak's two nature preserves, Cummingston Park and Tenhave Woods.  We are also in the process of developing an arboretum and wildflower garden (Royal Oak Arboretum) behind the Royal Oak Senior Center (3500 Marais).  Go to the Nature Society page to learn more about us. 

ABOUT OUR PARKS: Both Cummingston Park and Tenhave Woods are nature preserves that are over 20 acres in size and are heavily wooded with lined trails.  They are designated by the city of Royal Oak as conservancy parks where the protection and management of the animal and plant/tree life in the parks is the primary concern.  They are open daily to the public from dawn to dusk.  Click here to find out why dogs are not allowed inside either nature preserve.  Go to Nature Preserves page to learn more about Cummingston Park and Tenhave Woods. 

The Royal Oak Arboretum is a park located behind the Senior Center.  It has been under development since 2007.  The long range plan for our arboretum is to create a collection of native trees/plants that are not found in Tenhave Woods.  Link on to Royal Oak Arboretum to learn about its history and progress. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:  Wearing boots while in the parks is recommended during the winter and spring months. Using insect repellent and dressing appropriately is advised from late spring through the end of summer.  To learn more about these parks firsthand, go to Naturalist Lead Walks.  Our Park Locations page also includes links to trail maps of these parks.  If you would like to help the Nature Society with the maintenance and improvement of these two nature areas and the arboretum, please check out our Volunteer Opportunities page.

Nature Society's Upcoming Fundraiser

This is an invitation to join us at our 13th Annual Soiree/Fundraiser being held on Friday, April 27th, 2018 at the Royal Oak Elks Club.  There will plenty of food and an opportunity to bid on many interesting items.  Please click here for more information.

RONS logo revised


Exploring the Lower Peninsula's National Lakeshore” presentation is being held on Wednesday,March 14th, 2018 beginning 7:30 pm at the Royal Oak Middle School (709 N. Washington).  Did you know that there is a beautiful national park only four hours from Royal Oak?  The Sleeping Bear is an area unlike any other, over 50,000 acres along Lake Michigan replete with hills and forests of birch, pine, beech and maple.  The Lakeshore encompasses numerous small lakes and rivers, sugar sand beaches and, massive coastal sand dunes and bluffs.  Join park ranger, Stephanie Schneider, to learn about the beautiful perched dune ecosystem of the Leelenau Peninsula's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Sleeping Bear Dune 2


"Owl Hoot” is being held at Cummingston Park on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 beginning at 7:30 pm.  Park and meet at Leafdale & Torquay.  We will walk into Cummingston and attempt to lure in or have screech & great horned owls answer tape recordings of their calls.  There is no pre registration or cost for this program. 

"Owl Hoot” is being held at Tenhave Woods on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 beginning at 7:30 pm.  Park & meet at the Lexington & Marais lot. We will walk into Tenhave and attempt to lure in or have


Friends of Fungi Mycology Club

This group promotes the understanding of, and an appreciation for, fungi in general and those fungi found in Tenhave Woods, Cummingston Park, and other local urban woods. The group is open to anyone who wants to learn more about fungi which includes mushrooms. Check out this link for more information including program schedule.

Fungi Sept 2017

Frog Watch

For the past five years, Nature Society members Laura Gogola and Laurine Cybulski, have been part of the Detroit Zoo “Frog Watcher” program.  Laura & Laurine gathered frog/toad activity information during the spring months at Dragonfly Pond (located in Tenhave Woods), and sent it along to the Detroit Zoo National Amphibian Conservation Center.  From there, the information was sent to the American Zoo Association to be analyzed.

Laura & Laurine have just recently retired from being “Frog Watchers”, but would like to see someone else step in and take their place.  Click here for a report by Laura & Laurine summarizing their 5 years of “frog listening” at Dragonfly Pond.  If you think you might be interested in becoming a “Frog Watcher”, please contact the Detroit Zoo.  Classes are held from the end of January thru early March. 

2017-07-13 Gray Treefrog Tenhave

Arboretum Book Available

A Guide to the Wildflowers of the Royal Oak Arboretum is now available. This forty page print-on-demand book features over one hundred of the most conspicuous plant species found in the "arb." They are illustrated with more than three hundred color photographs. The book costs $40 and will be available at our speaker programs. Link to preview one of the guide pages.  E-mail Don Drife for more information on ordering this book.

Arb Book Cover

Nature Society Master Plan 

Click here to check out Version 5 (May 2017) of our Nature Society Master Plan for Cummingston Park, Tenhave Woods and the Royal Oak Arboretum

Problems in the Parks

 If you are near Tenhave Woods, Cummingston Park or the Royal Oak Arboretum and see or hear suspicious or unlawful behavior, please help by calling the Royal Oak Police Department’s non-emergency number, 248-246-3500 and inform them of the problem.  We would also appreciate it if you could also let us know about the problem by contacting us at 248-246-3380 or by e-mail at
Native Tree Collection

One of the long term goals of the Nature Society has always been to have as many of Michigan's 86 tree species as we can. We have 41 native species in Tenhave Woods, but because it is a nature area, we can’t plant any new species there. Presently, we have 24 native species that can be found in our arboretum (located behind the Senior Center) that can't be found in Tenhave.   There are 5 other species growing in our nursery.  That leaves 16 species of native Michigan trees that we need to obtain and plant in our arboretum in order to reach 86.  Check our table of Michigan’s native tree species to see where we stand with each of them.  We will periodically update the table as we plant or find more tree species.

Land History

Behind the natural beauty of Tenhave Woods and Cummingston Park, there is a land history to explore. Please check out these links to Tenhave Woods (PDF) and Cummingston Park (PDF) to learn about the people who once lived on these lands.

The Goodwin family was the first owner of the land that now includes Tenhave Woods and Royal Oak High School. The below photo is of Samuel Volney Goodwin's family and farmhouse during the middle 1880s. Samuel was the third generation of Goodwins to own this piece of land.  The house was located just south of Normandy Rd. & just east of Crooks.
A black and white photo of a farm house.

Special Thanks

We'd like to offer a special thanks to the ROAK Brewing Company for their very Generous Donation (PDF).

The Nature Society would also like to thank Brendan Nolan’s “Plants for Ecology” for donating
several Black Willows, a Tamarack and an Elderberry tree.  If you are looking for native plants, you might want to check him out at Royal Oak’s Farmer Market sometime.  More information can be found at his “Plants for Ecology” website.

ROOTS Foundation

The Nature Society is a member of the Royal Oak Opportunity To Serve (ROOTS) Foundation, established by the city to accept donations and endowments for the improvement of civic institutions. Donations and bequests may be designated for specific Nature Society projects. For more information, visit the ROOTS Foundation Page.