St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

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ElijahW
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St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by ElijahW » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:56 pm

NTS,

I measured two white oaks (quercus alba) this week at St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in Auburn, NY. The cemetery is private, but open to the public. It is located just south of Auburn High School on Lake Avenue and across the road from Emerson Park and the north shore of Owasco Lake, one of central NY's Finger Lakes. Like many cemeteries, it features several non-native specimen trees, including European larch and Norway spruce. But the main attraction for me is a pair of open-grown white oaks near the cemetery's western boundary. Neither is notably tall, but both have impressive girths and respectable crown spreads. The larger and western-most oak measures 75.3' in height, with a cbh of 19'2" and an average crown spread of 121.6'. The girth of the smaller oak is 17.6', with a similar height and lesser crown spread (neither measured for lack of time). The smaller tree also has a lightning rod attached, so my guess is that the trees are well cared-for and probably have been aided in their growth by way of extra water and fertilizer, but they're impressive nonetheless. Here's a picture of both trees - the larger one is in the foreground:
75.3'; 19'2";121.6' White oak
75.3'; 19'2";121.6' White oak
Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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pdbrandt
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by pdbrandt » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:31 pm

Elijah,

These are beautiful oaks! My wife grew up in Auburn, and she and I lived on Gaylord St for a while after we got married.

Thanks for the post,
Patrick

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ElijahW
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by ElijahW » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:04 am

Patrick,

Thanks for the comment. I've lived in both Weedsport and Port Byron, NY, so Auburn really was the place to be, at least through my adolescence and teenage years. I hope you enjoyed your time there. She definitely has her warts and scars, but also lots of history and natural and man-made beauty. White oak isn't terribly common in this area, so my guess is that both trees were planted; nonetheless, they're very symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. The larger tree reminds me of live oak, especially because of the size of the trunk and larger branches, as well as the big ol' crown.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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tomhoward
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by tomhoward » Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:55 pm

Elijah,

Those oaks are magnificent. The largest tree here in North Syracuse is an open-grown White Oak at Bear Rd. School that looks a lot like these, and is about the same size as the biggest one. We believe it was planted about 1827 to mark off the boundary of a newly created town. The forest-grown White Oaks in the North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove are substantially older and a lot more gnarly, but much smaller in trunk diameter.

In the background of your picture is what looks like a forest of tall trees. Is that an oak grove? Do you know how tall or how old those trees are, and what kind of trees they are? As you know, I'm interested in finding old growth oak forests in upstate NY.

Tom Howard

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Larry Tucei
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:25 pm

Elijah, Awesome White Oaks they are huge! One of my favorite Oaks. Good photo to! I can imagine in the past big White Oaks such as those were everywhere in New England. Larry

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dbhguru
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by dbhguru » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:10 pm

Elijah,

Wow! Splendid finds. You're smoking the rest of us. Keep up the good work. New York should have lots of secrets to reveal. Great to have someone searching the territory.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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ElijahW
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by ElijahW » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:26 am

NTS,

Thanks for the encouragement. Tom, I really don't know what trees are in the background. I doubt that they're really old, but it's likely some are oaks. Northern red, white, and bur oak all are native to the immediate area, and pin oaks are popular plantings, both as specimen trees and in groups. I visited your oak grove briefly Christmas week. The only groves I know of that would compare favorably are the trees in Rochester's Washington grove and the Wizard of Oz grove in N. Syracuse.

Larry, I doubt that trees of this girth were a dime a dozen back in the day, just because of the primeval forest density, but they had to be much more common. One can only dream! I don't recall if the subject has been discussed before, but my guess is that the largest-girth trees in the northeast, pre-European settlement, were sycamores. These days, they're still some of the widest trees around, and combined with their affinity for moist, flat habitats and ability to take lots of punishment and grow back, I think they would naturally outgrow their neighbors.

These two white oaks fit the definition of "open grown" perfectly. Neither has any competition. Their size might indicate very old age, or might not, just like with Larry Tucei's live oaks. Being located in a prominent cemetery, I'm sure someone local has a better idea of their age than I do, but I haven't done my homework on that front. According to the cemetery's website, http://www.stjosephscemetery.org/sj_history.html, the land was purchased in 1880, but buildings were already on the premises at the time. So the twin oaks may be much older than the cemetery itself. Beats me.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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ElijahW
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:05 pm

NTS,

I remeasured the larger White oak today, and the update dimensions are:

75.3' (no change) x 19'8" x 126' Average CS, 129' Max CS, for a total of 343 AF Champion points.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:39 pm

Beautiful tree, and seeing older posts like this updated with new measurements is one of the unique pleasures of the ENTS BBS as an online community.

This oak is nearly identical in AF points to the Pelham Bay Park "Granny Oak" I recently posted. It's interesting to compare the two; fewer but much thicker arched spreading lower branches in the granny oak and perhaps more trunk mass above the first tier of branches, vs. a thicker trunk and greater density of branching in the crown (more "thickety") in the Auburn oak. There's reason to believe the granny oak to be at least 300 years old and quite likely a veteran of coastal oak savanna ecosystem common in that region prior to settlement and reflects that life history (with fire and grazing animals as past components), while the Auburn oak could well have attained those numbers in half that time or less in a managed landscape and potentially with some amount of intentional "feeding."

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ElijahW
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Re: St. Joseph's Cemetery, Auburn, NY, White Oaks

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:25 pm

Erik, thanks. Your post on the Granny Oak reminded me of this oak, that's why I went to see it again today. It was due for a re-measure, as well, since it's probably the largest white oak in Cayuga County. I agree with you about the ages of the two trees; the Granny Oak is probably a good bit older. The Auburn oak continues to grow, and shows little to no evidence of limb or trunk damage. At its current growth rate, it should surpass 20' in circumference and 130' maximum crown spread in the next two years.

While I've posted several updates to previously measured trees recently, many more can be found in the tree database. Trees being living things, their dimensions are always changing. I'm just trying to keep up.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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