Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

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Erik Danielsen
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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:14 pm

Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn was founded in 1838 with the intent of emulating "forest-garden" style cemeteries becoming popular in Europe at the time. In its almost-two-centuries of existence it has accumulated a roster of noteworthy "residents," but somewhat less recognized are its noteworthy still-very-much-living residents, trees native and ornamental alike now often well over 150 years old. Greenwood is credited with inspiring the creation of Central Park in Manhattan, but for tree nuts visiting the city my advice would be to stick to the original- there's scarcely a tree in all of central park that has anything on what grows in Greenwood.

I was able to spare a few hours this morning to measure some trees in Greenwood, while the last snow of the season soaked through my shoes. Many magnolias and others are already in flower and tuliptrees are starting to grow their leaves; the contrast with snow was truly unusual. These pictures and numbers are a time-constrained sampling- there's plenty more to come in the future.
Tuliptrees getting a start already!
Tuliptrees getting a start already!
Right off the bat I met the biggest Dawn Redwood I've ever seen, followed by a number of somewhat less impressive bald cypress, the largest of which I did measure anyways.
The large Dawn Redwood
The large Dawn Redwood
Dawn Redwood
Dawn Redwood
16.4'cbh
16.4'cbh
Greenwood's biggest trees are Tuliptrees (surprise!). Multiple specimens must date to the cemetery's founding. The most exciting tree for me though is an enormous Cucumber Magnolia. I'm curious what you all think in terms of the pith lines. My inclination from examining the trunk is that the origin is a single trunk that was damaged several feet off ground level and split, but that lots of wood growth in the area of splitting/fusion has made it a difficult form to parse. Greenwood may have relevant historic information (there is a director of plant collections). If a single, this is NY state's new champion Cuke by a large margin.
The giant Cuke, full view
The giant Cuke, full view
Perpendicular to split, side 1
Perpendicular to split, side 1
Perpendicular to split, side 2 with me for scale. The cross-section at the base is almost more of a rounded "x" than circle or oval.
Perpendicular to split, side 2 with me for scale. The cross-section at the base is almost more of a rounded "x" than circle or oval.
There are a number of other, smaller but still formidable cucumber magnolias here. One very definite cuke, perhaps 2.5'dbh and 90ish feet tall, has a label placard reading "Bigleaf Magnolia." When I briefly met the director of plant collections by happenstance last week he did mention that they're working on correcting erroneous labels. This must also be the case with the cemetery's most abundant large conifer- Himalayan White Pine (Pinus wallichiana) far outnumbers eastern white pine here, unmistakable with its long drooping needles, gargantuan cones and more reddish bark with age. The tallest wallichiana I measured, though, had a placard reading "Pinus strobus."

Both Thuja species are unusually scarce in this cemetery but there's an abundance of Eastern Redcedar, the tallest I've ever seen- so much so that if one of you tells me I've mistaken a western or asian species (my familiarity with mature redcedar is limited) I will not be surprised.
Tall cedars
Tall cedars
Cedar (juniper) foliage with male cones
Cedar (juniper) foliage with male cones
The day's full numbers:
Dawn Redwood
100.8/12.6'cbh
Bald Cypress
85.5/7.3'cbh
Tuliptree
120.9
112.2/16.9'cbh
111.8/13.4'cbh
110.5/16.4'cbh
Cucumber Magnolia
112.8/15.8'cbh, 85.2'ACS =324 AF Points total
Himalayan White Pine
106.8/9.6'cbh
95.9/9.4'cbh
Eastern Redcedar
90.5/8.1'cbh
86.9/8.4'cbh

tclikesbigtrees
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Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:08 pm

Re: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Post by tclikesbigtrees » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:34 am

Another of the many cemeteries that I would love to check out. I love old cemeteries, but there is something extra special about ones with big trees.

Tom

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Erik Danielsen
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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:55 am

Tom, I agree. Areas with a long colonial history seem to be some of the best, since there's been more time for trees to grow- assuming the management practices employed have been kind to the trees! Clearly they have been in Greenwood, but not everywhere...

Playing with lines in MS paint I'm still quite unsure about single vs. double on this cuke- from the assumptions I'm making on pith placement it would seem to be a double, as per the photo I've attached. I'm hoping those with more experience in internal structure of doubles like this will weigh in on whether the pith line would be expected to run. My reading suggests cucumber magnolia is prone to stump- or root-sprouting, which leaves quite a few possible scenarios for the provenance of this tree(s?).
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Larry Tucei
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Re: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Post by Larry Tucei » Thu Mar 24, 2016 3:14 pm

Erik- Nice report. I love old Cemeteries they always produce big and tall trees. That Magnolia is impressive as is the Dawn Redwood. Larry

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