Shackleton Point, Bridgeport, NY

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Don
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Re: Shackleton Point, Bridgeport, NY

Post by Don » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:45 pm

Gaines-
Thanks for the replies, I've many hours on chainsaws, but just a few years on hardwoods, and none on maples so I'm beholden to you, and others back East.
One of the things I've pursued to help decide on single versus multiple stems has been to delineate the 'apparent' central axis from multiple views...my Forest Science training suggests that trees, in the absence of external input, will grow as near circular a cross-section as would be 'natural'. Assuming the tree's pith to closely approximate the 'central axis' [barring external inputs], I choose a point 10-20 foot up a tree, and draw the central axis down until it appears to encounter another stem. I'd then do that stem, and/or others. Knowing that Angiosperms express eccentricity in reaction wood…[as noted by Fritts 1976], by putting
tension on the uphill side, one can make judgments on how much "eccentricity" is brought about by the branching. The sharper the branching angle (and shorter the "chord"), the more eccentricity can be expected. The maple we're talking about is a very challenging tree to delineate pith on. Delineating all four quadrants (i.e., N W E S) helps, but even so, it's not conclusive (from what I know).

Another item that makes this tree difficult to delineate is the twisting or spiraling...the "fluting" you refer to also spirals, confounding (as Elijah comments) the seams. Do you have opinions on 'spiraling grain'?
-Don
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ElijahW
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Re: Shackleton Point, Bridgeport, NY

Post by ElijahW » Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:22 am

NTS,

Thank you all for your replies. Tom Brooking was very interested about this particular sugar maple, and perhaps its age. Whether this tree is a single- or multiple-trunk specimen has a lot to do with its age potential, as even open-grown sugar maples in our area don't get this large. For comparison, the largest circumference I've seen on a sugar in NY is in the Liverpool Maple Grove, at just over 14'. Of course the Liverpool tree is likely much older (perhaps twice the age), and forest-grown, but even lawn-planted sugar maples around here don't normally exceed 12' or so in circumference.

From my perspective, three scenarios are possible with respect to the nature of this tree's main stem: 1) It is a fusion of two or more individual trees joined together at a young age and most of the physical evidence has been covered by bark; 2) It is one tree, injured at some point in its youth and developed multiple leaders as a response; or 3) It has, is, and always will be, a single-trunk tree. Tom Howard alluded to my initial leanings, namely that it's an old fusion of several individuals, but I'm not married to that theory. Will's and Gaines's explanations make tons of sense and are very plausible. Seeing the lower trunk in relationship to the massive root system would explain for me the mystery of this tree's immense girth.

Assuming that this is one individual tree makes it likely that this tree predates the many 100-150 year old sugar maples found on the property; however, as we all know, assumptions with limited information get us into trouble, and the tree would need to be cored to know its age and history for sure. This attached link http://cbfs.dnr.cornell.edu/documents/C ... ry.web.pdf gives some of the history of Shackelton Point, and though some aerial photos at the end of the article show the crown of this sugar maple, I believe they all date from about ten years ago, so they won't be much help to us.

Below are a couple of photos of the massive river birch, with the 15'6" Norway maple in the background.
DSC00647.JPG
DSC00648.JPG
Thanks to Tom Brooking for showing us around, and to Tom Howard for letting me tag along.

Elijah
P.S. I apologize for giving the incorrect spelling for this property in the thread title. It should read "Shackelton".
"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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gnmcmartin
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Re: Shackleton Point, Bridgeport, NY

Post by gnmcmartin » Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:34 am

Don:

I have no special insights about spiraling grain, except, perhaps, that if there are two or more trees fused together, the spiraling would be limited or contained within each tree. On my timberland I find the most extreme spiraling grain on some red maples.

As for the "fluting" that develops on many very old sugar maples: I had a massive old single trunked sugar maple on my timberland that was single trunked to a considerable height. I can't now remember exactly, but it was well over 4 feet in diameter. Where my timberland is in Garrett County, MD, sugar maples grow very large, and for a time the national champion was only a mile or two from my timberland.

Anyway, this tree had very gross "fluting" or folding inward/outward of the trunk. The inward parts of the "flutes" were very deep, and that is where the tree's death started. Several of these areas died, and within 10 or so years, the whole tree died. I never cored this tree or otherwise cut into it to determine its age, but it was very, very old--its great size was attained while growing in a forest environment. I can only guess upwards of 300 years. I read somewhere that the maximum for Sugar maple is 400, and I would not rule out it having been that old. This tree had some slight spiraling.

As for determining a central axis and using that to determine where the pith might be, would seem to me to be not very reliable with hardwoods. With the sugar maple in question here, my view is that the two parts of the forked main trunk started as side branches that when the top of the tree was lost, turned upwards, forming a "U." After they became a double leader, they grew straight, and as their diameter increased, the "U" closed, forming a "V." But if you trace back on the present angle, you would not hit the point where the pith divides, but a point outside of that.

As for conifers, I am still a bit concerned about this method of determining where the pith has divided. There is a potential case in point here in Winchester--a large Norway spruce that had its top removed many, many years ago. 4 of the side branches then curved upwards, forming 4 trunks. These trunks are clearly separate, and one can clearly see where they curve outward and then upward from the single main trunk. BUT, if this tree could live for 3 or 4 hundred more years, I could imagine that these trunks would grow large enough to fuse, closing the "U" curves, and lead down to a convergence point that would be very far outward from where they actually originated, leading to some speculation that this was 4 trees fused. Of course, this is a Norway spruce, and will never live so long or get that large--but if it were a redwood??

If trees started as separate trees they would be more likely to grow straighter, with less likelihood that they started out growing at an angle away from each other, later turning more directly upward.

--Gaines

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Jess Riddle
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Re: Shackleton Point, Bridgeport, NY

Post by Jess Riddle » Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:07 pm

Elijah,

I would not hesitate to call the big maple a single. I think Gaines' description provides the most plausible explanation for the tree's form.
This image appears to show the piths merging at the level of the large branches
This image appears to show the piths merging at the level of the large branches
The pith test is more ambiguous here, but the large limb in the center is not.  This limb emerges essentially from where the seem would be between two trees?  How would a limb originate right where two trees are pressed against each other.  It is much easier to imagine a single tree's terminal leader being damaged right above this limb.
The pith test is more ambiguous here, but the large limb in the center is not. This limb emerges essentially from where the seem would be between two trees? How would a limb originate right where two trees are pressed against each other. It is much easier to imagine a single tree's terminal leader being damaged right above this limb.
Jess

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