Zoar Valley Update

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dbhguru
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by dbhguru » Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:41 am

Elijah,

Your and Erik's Zoar Valley measurements affirm for me Yogi Berra's malapropisms (recast): the game's not over 'till its over and the games's not over 'till the full figured lady sings. I could never have imagined a Rucker of 143. Incredible. If the terrain hadn't discouraged logging, I doubt there would be a single outstanding tree left. Three cheers for gorges, ravines, steep ridges, rock ledge barriers, winding streams, etc.

When NTS really got into computing Rucker Indices, in the Northeast, there was Mohawk Trail State Forest at around 136 and Cook Forest at about 137. Then Zoar Valley joined the group, eventually surpassing the other two sites. Zoar looked like an anomaly, but in all likelihood, maxed out. Enter super measurer George Fieo onto the scene. After George was un-leased in southeastern PA, I though the north country stars were destined to fade. Well, Zoar hasn't, thanks to the two of you. It just keeps gittin gooder 'n gooder.

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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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:07 pm

I visited Deer Lick Preserve again this past Monday. Down in the bowl with the tall hickory I measured several additional trees. I also visited a white pine hidden on a slope above a narrow ravine in the upland section, as well as a sycamore high up on the rim that was pretty unexpected.
The nice white pine- not terribly old looking, but one of the most impressive pine trunks in the Zoar complex.
The nice white pine- not terribly old looking, but one of the most impressive pine trunks in the Zoar complex.
The big sycamore above the rim.
The big sycamore above the rim.
Sycamore
129.7' / 10.63'cbh
White Pine
128.5' / 10.1'cbh
Basswood
126.17' / 5.4'cbh
Sugar Maple
124' / 8.59'cbh
Black Maple
123.54' / 6.95'cbh
White Ash
123.5' / 6.59'cbh
123.54' Black Maple, a very nicely-formed tree.
123.54' Black Maple, a very nicely-formed tree.
I also encountered some nice non-tree organisms waking up for spring, some red-backed salamanders, a nice colorful ground beetle I have not seen before, and a fascinating leafy liverwort called Woollywort being among the highlights.
Woollywort!
Woollywort!
Sphaeroderus canadensis, a specialized predator of snails.
Sphaeroderus canadensis, a specialized predator of snails.

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dbhguru
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by dbhguru » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:10 am

Erik,

How pronounced are the characteristics of the black maples? Massachusetts supposedly has a couple of small areas with black maple, but given that the two species are so closely related, a pure strain of black maple in Massachusetts is highly unlikely. I have seen what I regard as black maple in the Ithaca region, and know the relative percentages favor black maple going westward.

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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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:12 am

Bob, for some trees it's quite pronounced, others less so. Part of the problem for me is that when I was initially learning my trees, I did so here, which is where I grew up, but didn't know much about black maple except that it was probably around, somewhere. I filed the traits of all the "hard maples" I encountered under "sugar maple." Now that I'm tuning in to the differences I'm discovering that while many woodlands I've been familiar with just have sugar maple, many others have substantial portions of black maple, or are mostly black maple. So I've been a bit mixed up on that from the starting line and am now sorting the traits I thought were all "sugar" into their proper places. Bark I once thought was within variation for sugar maple pretty much always corresponds with finding black maple leaves nearby, within sugar-dominant stands. Add to this the fact that they freely hybridize! The hybrids can skew towards either parent in traits but apparently (I have not yet explored this topic in-leaf) hybrids with even the most black maple traits lack the little stipules that appear as false leaflets on black maple leaves. I found this PDF interesting and informative: https://rngr.net/publications/tree-impr ... nload/file

Most casual resources (tree ID guides, etc) really don't provide very useful information- the most common note on the bark is that black maple bark is darker. Who knows, maybe this is true on young saplings growing in identical conditions before they really start to develop any texture, but in mature trees the shade of the bark varies widely in either species. The texture does differentiate pretty well, though- black maple fissuring and ridging in a fashion that reminds me of northern red oak, with sugar maple plating and flaking in a way that's like a restrained version of white oak. A particular feature on sugar is the way the plates sort of "bow up" typically on one side while the other side stays tight.
Relatively tight and fissured bark at the base of the tallest black maple measured so far.
Relatively tight and fissured bark at the base of the tallest black maple measured so far.
Bark on the 123.54' Black Maple measured in the last post, older and more developed, displaying the deeper ridging and fissuring.
Bark on the 123.54' Black Maple measured in the last post, older and more developed, displaying the deeper ridging and fissuring.
The edge of a bark plate "bowing up" in the typical sugar maple fashion.
The edge of a bark plate "bowing up" in the typical sugar maple fashion.
An older typical sugar for contrast, open in full size to note in particular the scaly plating of the upper trunk.
An older typical sugar for contrast, open in full size to note in particular the scaly plating of the upper trunk.
The twigging on black maple also seems thicker and that it is distributed in clusters through the crown, by contrast to the finer and more distributed twigging of sugar maple. The leaves often exhibit strong differences, especially when relatively fresh so that the hairiness of black maple is evident- after a few months of winter, there's very little evident hair left on down leaves, except sometimes a little where all the veins come together to meet the stalk. Black Maple leaves are also thicker and tougher in texture and age to a dark brown, while sugar maple leaves are more papery and often become quite pale as they age on the ground. Black Maple is "looser" in leaf shape and does typically have fewer lobes, often just three, but even with a matched 5 lobes there are fewer defined "points" on the lobes. I came across a black maple leaf at a new site recently that had me looking around for some exotic species, it was so odd.
Really odd black maple leaf from a site on Grand Island.
Really odd black maple leaf from a site on Grand Island.
Typical black maple leaf from the same site.
Typical black maple leaf from the same site.
Typical aged sugar maple leaf for contrast- practically bleached out by the spring thaw.
Typical aged sugar maple leaf for contrast- practically bleached out by the spring thaw.
And of course, don't forget the hybrids... it looks as thought black maple and sugar maple both have similar height potential, but also that the tallest sugar maples we've measured in NY are on sites where both species are present- could some of these in fact be hybrids with a consequent boost to their vigor? Hard to know.
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Thu Apr 05, 2018 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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dbhguru
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by dbhguru » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:03 am

Erik,

Yours is the best description of the distinction between the characteristics of sugars and the blacks that I've seen. Leaf and bark identifiers are the ones that I've concentrated on. You've gone further and finer.

A friend of mine once confused the sun leaves of sugar maple that were falling from the tops of several sugars in Robinson SP with those of black maple. As you know the top eaves are smaller and simpler. However, the shade leaves were clearly sugar maple as was the bark. Despite the sugar give-aways, my friend stuck with his original call of black maple. Some of the leaves were sent away by the State's Natural Heritage program to an expert in New Hampshire, as I recall, and the answer came back clearly sugar maple. Still my friend persisted in calling the trees black maple. He lost a lot of credibility with others despite the really good work he had done. Pays to get it right, or at least admit to the possibility of being wrong.

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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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:30 pm

There is always so much possibility to be wrong! Oaks and hickories are of course mainly here to keep us humble. No surprise that maples should get in on that game at times as well. Lately I've been warming up to Hawthorns... sucker for punishment, I guess.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:00 am

Car troubles impeded measuring efforts this past week- Saabs are apparently designed by aircraft engineers, which somehow results in the alternators being hidden somewhere underneath and behind the engine, which means that a failed alternator is either a very expensive garage visit or a rather arduous DIY swap. I was economically obligated to pursue the latter, so when I completed the job on Thursday afternoon I celebrated by swinging up to Deer Lick Preserve to pursue some more trees. I only measured four, but they were certainly worthwhile.

Red Maple
128.57' / 7.02'cbh new state max
Eastern Hemlock
121.17' / 7.84'cbh
Cucumber Magnolia
116' / 6.17'cbh
Slippery Elm
109' / 7.17'cbh
State Max Red Maple
State Max Red Maple
All but the slippery elm were in a little cove perched above the sheer gorge, but below the rim of the upland in the preserve's southeastern corner. This little cove of old-growth is one of the most primeval-feeling stands in the whole canyon to me, dense with both tall hemlocks and tulips, very old red maples, basswood, white ash, black and sugar maples, red oak, etc. For the most part the trees are not height standouts (by Zoar standards), but the Red Maple was an exciting outlier piercing up through the hemlocks. I'm getting pretty certain that either Elijah or I will come up with a 130' red maple in NY before too many more measuring seasons have passed.
The measured slippery elm is a very beautiful tree.
The measured slippery elm is a very beautiful tree.
The Slippery Elm I caught on the way out, on a shortcut trail I had not taken before that goes through an excellent stand of hardwoods on the upland, dominated by sugar/black maples, with black cherry, white ash, bitternut hickory, and quite a few additional Slippery Elms. The one I measured may not be the tallest or largest of its species in this stand, so I'll definitely have to continue working on that.
Spring ephemerals are coming on strong- Viola rotundifolia pictured.
Spring ephemerals are coming on strong- Viola rotundifolia pictured.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Fri Jun 01, 2018 6:48 pm

NTS,

When Zoar Valley’s RHI10 was most recently updated with entirely fresh measurements, two and a half years ago in November 2015, the final 141.0 reaffirmed Zoar as THE northeastern hardwood supersite.This past April, with many new trees having joined the Rucker list in the last year, I spent the last week before canopy closure scrambling to update a few final trees so that we’d have a new, entirely current RHI10 for Zoar in 2018. I’ll get right to it, with some notes and photos after the list.

Tuliptree 162.78
American Sycamore 159.3
Bitternut Hickory 157.5
Northern Red Oak 145.1
White Ash 142.94
Eastern Cottonwood 142.2
Eastern White Pine 140.6
Eastern Hemlock 135.3
Black Cherry 131.2
American Basswood 130.8

RHI10 = 144.8

The Northern Red Oak and the Basswood are the same trees that have been in the Rucker previously. Neither gained much height since last measurement. The White Ash is the double-trunked tree Elijah measured to 139’ in 2015, but the next year we couldn’t find as tall a measurement. I believe we simply missed the true top- this time I was forced to use a window that gave me a good view across the top, and the tallest twig was hard to pick out but a good few feet taller than any of the rest. The White Pine is as of this posting a new tree; a weevily-looking pine long missing a second trunk, growing near to the great Elm. Finding a window was challenging, but clearly worth it. The tallest Sycamore has gained an average of 0.8 every year since 2015. With a big fat leaf on top I’m sure it’ll scrape 160’ every time a breeze blows this summer.

Sometime in the next couple weeks I hope to post more detailed trip reports regarding these remeasurements, along with several others and an updated RHI20.
Attachments
The base of the new tallest white pine. Tape wrapped for height measurement reference, recorded circumference was 11.4'@1.6'h, the narrowest point below fusion.
The base of the new tallest white pine. Tape wrapped for height measurement reference, recorded circumference was 11.4'@1.6'h, the narrowest point below fusion.
The tallest White Ash.
The tallest White Ash.
Some of the tulip's new height is vegetative.
Some of the tulip's new height is vegetative.

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JHarkness
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by JHarkness » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:14 pm

That's a very impressive average height, Erik, well done! I've always had a funny relationship with tulips and sycamores, they don't fair well here in the Taconics. A 100-foot tulip is a pretty big achievement even for a protected lowland in my area. Sycamores, while they get very large here (Pinchot in mind), they almost never do too much in terms of height, 110 feet sounds right for the tallest I've seen in the area (and those are in a protected cove), though in Connecticut southeast of here they do much better along the river bottoms. Neither species is very numerous here either, I can think of only one naturally growing tulip in my town and only two small groves (ten trees or less per grove) of sycamores. I can barely comprehend them reaching such incredible heights for that reason. I hope to visit Zoar Valley one day and experience these trees first hand, it's a very different forest than here.

How does the 142-foot white ash compare to the Kaaterskill tree? Last I heard it was 139', but I believe that's old information, I'm sure it has grown since.
Last edited by JHarkness on Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dbhguru
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by dbhguru » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:20 pm

Erik

The Rucker is out of sight. So many tall trees! We need a dashboard kind of communications feature to keep these Rucker indices in front of us.

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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