Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

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Erik Danielsen
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Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:53 pm

Looking back at the four years of discussion in the thread "A Visit to Leolyn Grove at Lilydale" http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=6386 I felt that it was time to start a new thread with more recent updates, for ease of reading and organization of information. Lilydale continues to yield new finds, as well as growth and change in its documented specimens.

Leolyn Grove is one of the densest, most diverse stands of true big-tree old growth in the northeast. If you dropped it into Zoar Valley as an additional terrace, it would only claim two species maximums but would probably be renowned as the most majestic single spot in the canyon. Even with only a few of the majestic old-growth white pines that stood emergent above its canopy remaining, it stands as a top-notch conifer site, cramming two 140'+ white pines, probably a couple 130'+ hemlocks and well over a dozen in the 120s. The fact that you can park a few yards away and stroll a trail that can't exceed half a mile to loop around the entire site, on flat ground the whole time, makes it one of the most accessible spots around for tree lovers to get a breath of that old-growth air. The protections granted by the spiritualist community at Lilydale are fortunate indeed.
Measuring in Leolyn is always a pleasure.
Measuring in Leolyn is always a pleasure.
As of 1/31/2018, Leolyn's RHI10 stands at 126.08. This number is likely to increase a bit yet, as I take the time to give the most superlative individual trees full attention. Following posts will look at individual trees and their measurements.

Rucker 10:
White Pine 148.05'
Eastern Hemlock 132.32'
White Ash 128.63'
Sugar Maple 127.67'
Black Cherry 127.75'
Red Maple 122.26'
Shagbark Hickory 119.37'
American Beech 118.96'
Northern Red Oak 118.93'
Cucumber Magnolia 116.42'


Updated 2/2/2018
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:22 pm

The Great White Pines

The first post in this topic can only be White Pine- not only is it the tallest species in Lilydale, there are only three of them left, so one post can cover the whole species. There are a number of standing white pine snags, mostly debarked, that still rise as high as 135'. The two largest living pines stick out and make their presence easily known, especially the second-largest, growing just a few steps from the trail.
A distant view of the grove shows the Big Pine on the left and the Little Sister Pine on the right (photo by Chris Merchant).
A distant view of the grove shows the Big Pine on the left and the Little Sister Pine on the right (photo by Chris Merchant).
This pine is slender by comparison to its larger companion, but quite substantial by any other standard. I think of it as the "Little Sister Pine." In winter, sighting her highest branch is deceptively difficult; from every angle I've found, the tallest twig is never one of the ones that appears highest, and is often closely aligned with another twig, making it almost impossible to hit without a good steady tripod.
The Little Sister Pine- a great illustration of what "canopy emergent" means!
The Little Sister Pine- a great illustration of what "canopy emergent" means!
Little Sister Pine 42 20'57.388" N, 79 19'27.7796" W
143.52' tall / 10.98'cbh

The Big Pine (Big Sister?) is one of the most charismatic trees in the whole forest, though she could be missed by a casual observer walking on the trail. Walking in beyond the hemlock screen, however, reveals a clearing full of hobblebush and ferns with the great pine standing tall above. Peering upwards, a reticulated branch emerging partway up her massive trunk looks like a stunted cedar clinging to a sheer cliff. The true top of this tree is even more difficult to sight than her little sister's, and I've written in greater detail about the challenges and results of measuring this tree in the topic at the following link: http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=8130
The Big Pine in full
The Big Pine in full
The Big Pine 42 20'58.4246" N, -79 19'26.3539" W
148.05' tall / 13.23'cbh / 52.48'acs - 319.93 AF points

Volume: 885.24 ft3 in best model (minimum 855.41 ft3, maximum 915.1 ft3)

When I started visiting Leolyn, there was another old-growth pine standing over 126' tall that was dramatically missing its bark fully from one side of its trunk. At the end of the first year I saw it, its needles turned pale, and within a season it had fallen. Aside from age, the condition of that pine suggests that lightning strikes are probably a factor in the decline of the site's white pine population. Intense thunderstorms blow in from the lake all spring and summer. An emergent pine is vulnerable.

There is one more surviving pine, though, which I took many visits to discover. This tree, not quite so large as the first two and likely not as old, is hidden within a cluster of hemlocks, and leans against one of them. I did not find a good window to definitively measure its height until this fall. It has two leaders which appear to be equally dominant, and leans a fair bit. It may never grow to be as large and majestic as the other two, but perhaps someday it'll seed a gap (if the deer browse can be reigned in) and give white pine a future in the grove.
Looking up the Split Pine from within the hemlocks.
Looking up the Split Pine from within the hemlocks.
The Split Pine from a distance.
The Split Pine from a distance.
The Split Pine 42 20'59.2316" N, 79 19'25.5750" W
135.49' tall / 8.82'cbh
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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:50 pm

Leolyn is perhaps best known for its concentration of incredibly large Black Cherries. Decades ago, a visit by ENTS members saw Black Cherries recorded to 130' tall. It's always with that number in mind that I go into the woods, and there are indeed many specimens stretching into the 120s. That 130 has not yet reemerged, and it may be that any trees of that height have since declined or fallen, and we'll have to wait on one in a state of healthy growth to grow up and reclaim it! Then again, there are many that I measured while less experienced that need a good remeasure. In the meantime, I've made careful measurements of both the tallest currently measured tree and the tree I suspect may be the most massive hardwood in the entire stand.

The tallest tree, and I think the most beautiful, is one I've posted remeasurements of several times in the older thread. I haven't been able to think of a good name for this tree, just a ridiculous one: Nina Serotina. 1/31 I made reticle measurements to calculate volume and this tree also qualifies for the 800+ ft3 class, surpassing the Stout Cherry. The diameter at 68' high is still 2.57', or 8.08' calculated circumference.
The tallest cherry, Nina Serotina
The tallest cherry, Nina Serotina
Nina Serotina 42 20'56.0095" N, 79 19'25.8029" W
127.75' tall / 12.01'cbh
Volume: approximately 815 ft3
Proportional view of Nina Serotina
Proportional view of Nina Serotina
Near to the small ampitheater where outdoor services are held in the grove is a cherry that is not exceptionally tall,and also not the largest in cbh, but raises an incredible amount of wood into the air. It curves, but does not taper, before splitting into two still-impressively-thick leaders as the crown spreads. At 45' up the trunk, before the split, it actually swells and reaches its maximum diameter above the basal flare, 3.66' diameter in the thickest direction and 3.6' diameter average, vs. 3.52'dbh. Taking basal diameter, dbh, diameter at 45' tall, and the full height and projecting a nieloid for the base frustum, and paraboloid for the main trunk and crown (I considered conical projection for the crown as I would for a conifer but the limb mass in the crown made a paraboloid seem more appropriate), and this tree gets surprisingly close to the volume of the Big Pine (which is only about 3.3' diameter at 45').
Looking up the trunk of the Stout Cherry (this view is distorted but gives a sense of the impression of mass this tree imparts to the viewer).
Looking up the trunk of the Stout Cherry (this view is distorted but gives a sense of the impression of mass this tree imparts to the viewer).
Stout Cherry 42 20'54.6302" N 79 19'17.863" W
113.88' tall / 11.05'cbh / crown spread pending
Volume: approximately 800 ft3 (corrected 2/2)
The Stout Cherry, viewed from a distance to avoid distortion so that its proportions can be appreciated.
The Stout Cherry, viewed from a distance to avoid distortion so that its proportions can be appreciated.
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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:17 pm

Eastern Hemlock is the backbone of Leolyn Grove, defining its canopy and internal climate. Trees both thick and tall can be found in abundance, and a few with truly antiquated appearances are to my mind most likely to be the grove's eldest occupants. After I modeled the volume of the Big Pine, one of the first questions on my mind was whether the grove might be home to any Hemlocks in the 800+ ft3 class? Now that HWA has decimated the great trees of the southern appalachians, Hemlocks of such volume are hard to come by, mostly hanging out a bit further south in PA. One sinuous ancient hemlock caught my eye with the way it just seemed to be a wall of wood all the way up to the start of its crown, and on 1/29 I was able to make some good measurements, concluding: close, but no cigar. As such (and since it grows right on the fenced border of the grove, I call it the On the Fence Hemlock.
Looking up the On The Fence Hemlock. It's a really striking tree.
Looking up the On The Fence Hemlock. It's a really striking tree.
On The Fence Hemlock 42 20'58.4185"N 79 19.18.9385' W
118.79' tall / 12.73'cbh
Volume: approximately 717 ft3 (corrected 2/2)
On the Fence Hemlock proportional view. Look at that trunk!
On the Fence Hemlock proportional view. Look at that trunk!
Near to the ampitheater is a needle-straight hemlock with a deep but narrow crown that is visually striking. I think of this as the Spire Hemlock.
Spire Hemlock
Spire Hemlock
Spire Hemlock 42 20'54.7107"N 79 19'20.4574" W
126.96' tall / 9.54'cbh

Many clusters of Hemlocks fill the interior. A particularly nice specimen growing beside a younger multitrunk black cherry:

42 20'55.7979" N 79 19'22.1989" W
128.02' tall / 8.59'cbh

Nearby is the tallest measured Hemlock. Another at Leolyn may surpass it, but I've done a lot of searching already. Growing closely spaced with a cluster of other Hemlocks, it's hard to get a good photo of the full tree.
Tallest Hemlock.
Tallest Hemlock.
Tallest Hemlock 42 20.56.8981" N 79 19'23.2291" W
132.32' tall / 10.2'cbh

Not far away, growing near two of the stand's nicest remaining beeches, is one of the most impressive Hemlocks in the stand. Based on the balding at its base and hue of its bark, this is also one of the elders. On 1/31 I made reticle measurements to calculate volume, and the final figure is essentially equal to the On The Fence Hemlock. The two trees have fairly different forms, with Grandfather more slender at the base but standing taller and straighter with less taper. At 81' high Grandfather is still 2.22' in diameter.
Grandfather Hemlock
Grandfather Hemlock
Grandfather Hemlock 42 20'56.6701" N 79 19'24.8331" W
128.65 tall / 11.35'cbh
Volume: Approximately 716 ft3
Grandfather Hemlock from the other side... very photogenic tree.
Grandfather Hemlock from the other side... very photogenic tree.
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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:34 pm

American Beech is unfortunately declining in Leolyn. There are as many large snags as mature living trees, but there seems to be healthy regeneration (not just root sprouts) and a couple of the large trees still show no signs of beech bark disease (in spite of vulnerable openings), so the long-term prospects for beech in Leolyn look good. There are probably just about half a dozen really impressive trees left, mostly a bit battered themselves.

One, near the ampitheater, is not exceptionally tall overall but impressed me with how tall, straight and columnar its trunk was beneath a relatively large crown. I call it the tower beech, and took the time to make a rough volume calculation, treating the base as a nieloid, trunk as a paraboloid, and crown projection as a paraboloid as well due to the significant branch structure. At 56.5' high, just below where the crown starts to spread, the circumference is still ~8'.
Looking up at the Tower Beech (some distortion in this photo)
Looking up at the Tower Beech (some distortion in this photo)
Tower Beech 42 20'57.0280" N 79 19'18.6852" W
107.5' tall / 10.04'cbh / crown spread pending
Volume: approximately 570 ft3
Proportionally accurate view of the Tower Beech.
Proportionally accurate view of the Tower Beech.
I also recently remeasured the large Beech next to the Grandfather Hemlock. This has always been the tallest Beech I could measure at Leolyn, and this is the tallest I've measured it to (updated, found an even higher top 1/31). This is most likely due to finding better shots into the crown. The tree is quite possibly actually losing height, as large portions of the crown are in rough shape. I love the trunk of this tree; it has ripples and grooves that call to mind a giant Hornbeam, in the sense that its other common name "musclewood" evokes. Growing beside it is the healthiest-looking large beech in Leolyn, a little smaller and younger in appearance, but a very respectable tree as well.
The Musclewood Beech
The Musclewood Beech
Musclewood Beech 42 20'56.8788' N 79 19'23.9002" W
118.96' tall / 9.71'cbh
Musclewood Beech on the right, with Grandfather Hemlock to the left.
Musclewood Beech on the right, with Grandfather Hemlock to the left.
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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:48 pm

There is really one Cucumber Magnolia of note at Leolyn. This tree spent some time listed as the State Champion Cuke. Over the years, it's become clear that this tree is still growing, bit by bit. November 2016 I measured this tree to 115.2' from the same viewing window as I used this time, suggesting that it grew the better part of a foot at the least in the intervening time (allowing for a bit of technique error in the full 1.2' difference- I did not use a tripod at that time). Just for fun, I shot a diameter further up the trunk and did a rough volume (nieloid for base, paraboloid main trunk, conical for the top since the branch structure of this specimen is not as dense as some hardwoods). My chosen midslope point for cbh seems to have moved up the trunk a little, as previous measurers (including myself in 2014) recorded figures over 10'cbh.
The Trailside Cuke, 1/29/2018
The Trailside Cuke, 1/29/2018
Trailside Cucumber Magnolia 42 20'57.0420" N 79 19'19.1221" W
116.42' tall / 9.97'cbh
Volume: approximately 433 ft3 (corrected 2/2)

There are many big Red Maples in Lilydale, but one that I keep coming back to. This tree grows right alongside the trail, near the ancient red oak. Tom Howard first tuned in to this tree, recording 37.2"dbh and a straight-up shot of 118.5' in 2014. 1/29/18 I recorded a 36.97"dbh (different midslope selection, but close) and found an ideal window to scan its very tallest twigs.
Tom's Red Maple
Tom's Red Maple
Tom's Red Maple 42 20'57.572" N 79 19'27.8897" W
122.26' tall / 9.68'cbh
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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:04 pm

Sugar Maple is probably the most abundant species at Leolyn. As of 1/29/2018, to my surprise, they have also surpassed Black Cherry as the tallest current recorded hardwood species in the grove. I measured four nice trees on that visit, all in a nice tight cluster near the trail, and all within 1 foot of the 120' mark except for the skinny little height champion in the middle. Based on the scarring at its base, the tallest tree was once probably a double. Perhaps after the other stem was lost, the root system devoted its resources to sending the remaining leader upward into the sun to make up for the lost photosynthetic capacity. Certainly, the single narrow crown reaching up above the other wise contently uniform 120' canopy (there are more in that range I did not carefully measure) asks for an interesting explanation.
Maple A
Maple A
Maple A 42 20'54.7102" N 79 19'23.9538" W
119.88' tall / 6.69'cbh
Skyrocket Maple, viewed up close to its base.
Skyrocket Maple, viewed up close to its base.
Viewed further away to keep the perspective straight, the skyrocket maple curves up across this frame.
Viewed further away to keep the perspective straight, the skyrocket maple curves up across this frame.
Skyrocket Maple 42 20'54.9433" N 79 19'23.9665" W
127.67' tall / 6.0'cbh
Maple B
Maple B
Maple B 42 20'54.9535" N 79 19'24.0336" W
120.57' tall / 7.35'cbh
Maple C. If I measure 23 more sugar maples, I suppose I'll have to come up with more creative names...
Maple C. If I measure 23 more sugar maples, I suppose I'll have to come up with more creative names...
Maple C 42 20'54.4697" N 79 19'23.9493" W
120.75' tall / 8.41'cbh

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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:15 pm

The giant, gnarled Northern Red Oak on the west side of the Leolyn is one of the grove's best-known trees. There are however at least 6 other good-sized specimens, all distributed around the edges of the grove. It's possible they've been more persistent at the edges where there's more light, while any presence in the shadier hemlock-beech-maple dominated interior has long since faded out. These are nonetheless old-growth trees, not specimens that seeded in from the edges after the land around was cleared. Of a pair along the trail near the ampitheater, the larger specimen is one of the best illustrations of the "stag-headed" crown trait associated with old-growth trees I've seen. In retrospect, this is another one of the hardwoods I'd like to roughly calculate volume for.
Stag-Headed Oak
Stag-Headed Oak
Stag-Headed Oak 42 20'54.7014" N 79 19'21.5238" W
118.93' tall / 11.48'cbh

Its neighbor is not quite as large or tall, but also a solid tree.
111.31' tall oak
111.31' tall oak
42 20'54.5180" N 79 19'20.734" W
111.31' tall / 8.63'cbh

The rest of the oaks should be wrapped up within a couple more visits.

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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by ElijahW » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:44 pm

Well done, Erik. I enjoyed reading the whole thing, and appreciate the volume calculations, as well. Tulips must be absent, I guess? I really should make a trip over there this year. Thanks for sharing,

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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Re: Leolyn Grove at Lilydale, NY Revisited

Post by dbhguru » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:55 pm

Erik and Elijah,

Erik, ditto to what Elijah says, and Elijah, we need to get you outfitted with a reticle. We could get a little clique going. Presently, people with reticles in either NTS, the Cadre, or both include:

Jess Riddle, Will Blozan, Dale Luthringer, Don Bertolette, Jared Lockwood, John Eichholz, Eric Wiseman, Michael Taylor,Gretchen Riley, and yours truly. I apologize if I've left anyone out.

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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