Cornell Plantations, Ithaca NY

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Cornell Plantations, Ithaca NY

Post by tomhoward » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:02 pm


Cornell Plantations, Ithaca, NY NTS Post Oct. 5, 2014

Elijah Whitcomb and I next explored part of the famous Cornell Plantations up on the hill at Cornell University. The Plantations cover a huge area, and we could only see a small part of them. We were in the main area of the Plantations in the village of Forest Home. Forest Home is a beautiful place, a heavily forested town at the edge of the Cornell campus, and above the Fall Creek Gorge (Fuertes Bird Sanctuary is in the delta of Fall Creek at Cayuga Lake) and the old man made Beebe Lake. It is an absolutely idyllic place, one of the loveliest settings in central NY. Fall colors were starting, with plenty of especially yellow and gold, and the weather was cloudy and chilly, but not unpleasant. The forest seems to be mostly old 2nd growth, with a variety of hardwoods, and a few Tuliptrees that are the tallest trees, especially near the Plantations parking lot. There is also some Hemlock, and along Forest Home Dr. are several large rugged White Pines with battered crowns. They are beautiful trees, and on this day filled the air with their refreshing fragrance. The area around Beebe Lake is marshy with fall flowers like New England Aster in bloom, and groups of Sycamores. The forest on the other side of Fall Creek and Beebe Lake consists of steep slopes covered with a heavy forest of tall trees (with emergent White Pine and emergent hardwood – most likely either Tuliptree or Pignut Hickory – we did not get near this tree); this is the old growth Beebe Lake Woods that is described in the Kershner and Leverett Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast (2004, pp. 118-119), which is the subject of the next report.

We measured the following trees at Cornell Plantations:
Tuliptree, one of 2 in ravine near where Plantations Rd. begins at Forest Home Dr.:
Height 117 ft.

We measured a Black Birch in the same area to a height of 57 ft. This is bigger and taller than most of the Black Birches in the area.

Tuliptree on slope above beginning of Plantations Rd. and Forest Home Dr.:
Height 120 ft.

What should be the biggest and most likely tallest White Pine in the lovely setting on slope just above Forest Home Dr. Elijah measured cbh of 11 ft. 11 in., circumference inflated by a dead branch rising out of trunk just above breast height:
Height 112 ft.
This is a picturesque White Pine with a battered, broken crown. This and the other White Pines are possibly over 150 years old.

This whole section along Forest Home Dr. exudes a pine-scented aura of peace.

Elijah and I used the Sackett Bridge, a foot bridge, to cross Fall Creek at the head of Beebe Lake, and from there we explored the Beebe Lake Woods – see the next report.

We crossed the same bridge again when we were done at Beebe Lake Woods, and explored the main area of the Plantations some more.

Trees seen in the forest near Forest Home Dr. and Plantations Rd.: White Pine, Hemlock, White Oak, Red Oak, Beech, Black Birch, Yellow Birch, Basswood, Black Cherry, Tuliptree, Shagbark Hickory, White Ash, Hop Hornbeam, Flowering Dogwood.

There is a large (for the species) well-formed Flowering Dogwood with leaves turning red near the parking lot (not far from the 117 ft. Tuliptree measured earlier) I could not get a basal shot:
Height above eye level: 28.1 ft – this tree should be about 35 ft. tall.

There are a great many cultivated trees at Cornell Plantations, including some large trees from other parts of the world. In the midst of a grove of White Pines and Red Pines there are at least a couple rather big Ponderosa Pines. The groves of White Pines on the Plantation’s hills are beautiful and open, and under them are groups of Rhododendrons and Azaleas. We saw 3 Deer in a lawn in a lovely setting of gardens, a hill with a White Pine grove, and the closed Sunday Plantations Visitor Center.

In front of the Visitor Center is a garden with tropical looking plants (not trees) with huge leaves.

Some planted trees seen include:
Dawn Redwood, Baldcypress, White Fir, Western Red Cedar, Japanese Larch, Ponderosa Pine, River Birch (some big ones), and many others. The lateness of the day prevented us from seeing more.

We then returned to North Syracuse.

Tom Howard

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Re: Cornell Plantations, Ithaca NY

Post by ElijahW » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:48 pm


I've thoroughly enjoyed all of my trips with Tom. This one was no different. I preferred the arboretum over Beebe Lake woods and the rest of Cornell Plantations, but that's probably because we had so little time to explore. The whole Cornell campus is beautiful, and I'll definitely be back when time allows. Although everything seems to be well maintained, exotics have escaped, as Tom and I spotted Norway maple and eastern redbud where they didn't belong. Below is a photo of Tom with the impressive Dogwood.
"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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