Yellow Birch 1500 years old

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Lucas
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Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Lucas » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:08 pm

1500 years!!??? Sounds like a typo boner to me.

http://www.outdoornovascotia.com/ancient.htm

The Ancient Trees of McNutt's Island

by Donna Ensor
Imagine Nova Scotia in 400 A.D. A beautiful, remote, coastal land surrounded by saltwater as far as the eye can see; dotted with sparkling lakes joined by a network of winding rivers, and bordered by rich, lush forests.

And now imagine, a group of birch trees surviving 'the test of time' to develop, mature and endure for hundreds of years on a small island, off the Nova Scotia coast.

McNutt's Island, at the mouth of Shelburne Harbour contains a stand of yellow Birch trees that are centuries old. The Nova Scotia government ( Dept.of Natural Resources) has identified one of trees, as the largest and oldest Yellow Birch tree in the province.
Though not terribly high, the ancient tree is 171/2 feet in diameter and is 1500 years old. The top of the main trunk has been blown off by the wind, yet a new crown of silvery growth, grows on. The bark is no longer a warm silvery gray on the rope-like trunk, yet it supports various lichen and mosses, giving the impression of a patchwork quilt.


Click on image to see its original size

(Photo Art by Linda Ross)

There are about 30 of these primal trees on McNutt's Island, an island of 2000 acres, 6 miles long and roughly three-quarters of a mile wide. At the north end of the island is the 'Horseshoe', a sandspit that curves into the harbour with a brackish pond in the middle. A proper road follows through the center of the island to Cape Roseway Lighthouse. Facing south to the open ocean is a view that is "unbelievable".

Old cellars and bricks lay on the west side, testimony to the various settlers that lived there; and there are rhubarb plants and clumps of narcissus that still bloom in spring. Proof, that plants are indeed...forever.

It's a five minute walk from the Island Cookhouse, south to the big trees. Bayberries, huckleberries and raspberries line the road. Most of the birches are 12 to 15 feet in diameter, Polypody Ferns form dense mats wherever enough rotting leaf litter has gathered in the crooks of the trees to sustain growth. Spinulosa wood ferns march up the trunks and underfoot.

Several of these ancient trees have been given 'proper' names - The Two Bum Tree, two 31/2 foot high burls make up the trunk, it's completely hollow on the north side;The Haunted Tree, has a gnarled arm that make the natural cavities resemble eyes and its mouth is an open scream. Some trees have succumb to Mother Nature, their bones lay like giant whales beached among the mosses.
This extremely spiritual place is a mystery. Why didn't the early settlers cut these trees for firewood or to build their homes?


Click on image to see its original size

(Photo Art by Linda Ross)

How did they escape being burned like most of Nova Scotia? Then there is the question of how did they survive in this hostile environment, surrounded by saltwater and the constant battering of the wind?

One thing is for sure, this pocket of ancient natural history restores one's batteries, and renews one's faith that life goes on. If only the trees could tell stories of all who passed them by, or sat contemplating life under the comfort of their boughs, they could indeed tell fascinating yarns.

Eric and Donna Ensor provide a Birding and Nature Walk of McNutt's Island complete with boiled lobster, Atlantic salmon or T-bone steak dinner, homecooked at the Island Cookhouse. For further information contact McNutt's Island Coastal Encounters, Ohio Road, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Larry Tucei » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:32 pm

Lucas- Wow! Bob is going to love this posting. I can't find where the Birch had been cored and aged that old? Looks like an estimation. I'll bet Neil Pederson could tell us something on the age of these trees on the Island. Larry

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dbhguru
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by dbhguru » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:13 pm

Lucas,

Yellow birch approach 400 years in age and somewhere there may be one that is 500 years old. Id be very skeptical of accounts of older ones.

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: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:19 pm

Harsh living conditions seem to have a curious tendency to produce many of the oldest specimens of certain species (including some that are much shorter lived in good conditions, like northern whitecedar). The particular reaction of some other trees (like some oaks in the UK) to artificial trunk-breaking (pollarding) maintains a youthful growth state that extends their lives beyond the duration of their full-trunked brethren. While there's no reason I'm aware of to believe these particular phenomena are also true of Yellow Birch, they do make it easy enough for me to believe that these trees may be very old for their species.

1500 years seems a stretch, though. It probably is an estimation, or worse, extrapolated from a short core sample which for an old tree in a tough spot may show very tight growth rings not reflective of growth rates earlier in the tree's life. I'd think that getting an age that far removed from any other age known for that species would be enough to raise a giant red flag on the extrapolation/estimation method employed. Unless, of course, it's just a typo for 500 (believable for the reasons above) or misunderstanding on the part of the author.

Climbatree813
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Climbatree813 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:35 pm

Yes. I agree with what other have said. 350-400 is what I have heard to be a max on Yellow Birch, 500 is believable, 1500 seems like a stretch.

Isn't that an interesting phenomenon Erik? Northern White Cedar is a great example of species living an incredibly long time in harsh conditions and shorter in nicer. I saw a 50 year old cedar that was dead in a city park yesterday while scientists found an 1100 year individual in the Boundary Waters awhile back (that specific tree died in the Ham Lake fire 7 years ago) and there are likely a decent amount more spaced about. Interesting hypothesis could get thrown around as to why that is. Maybe just because the wood is so dense from how slow the tree grew that the wood is not as likely to break or rot and insects have a harder time boring into it? I don't know, but interesting to think about nonetheless.

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Don
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Don » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:05 pm

Anybody have problems with that yellow birches alleged SEVENTEEN AND A HALF-FOOT DIAMETER ?
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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dbhguru
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by dbhguru » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:18 pm

Don,

I'll go 17.5 feet in circumference for the species. People in general and reporters in particular often mix up the diameter and circumference. I realize that you know that. It makes that T-shirt design all the more meaningful.

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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Don
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Don » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:16 pm

Bob-
I'd already booked airline tickets after reading that there were 30 some primal yellow birches between 12' to 15' in diameter...that'd been something!
As it is, 12' to 15' circumference yellow birches would be impressive, but I'll return my airfare...it'd be nice though to see a photo of the stand...know what kind of associated community, what kind of landform it was part of...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Yellow Birch 1500 years old

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:08 am

I did some googling for more images. The setting of the big birch is actually quite open and its form would probably qualify as open-grown. Mature trees nearby are mostly conifers resembling some sort of spruce (though I'm poorly trained in both abies and picea) in form, none very tall. At least one photo of alder. Also the island might have a small herd of feral sheep? Could have an interesting impact on tree regeneration. The only image of the "two bum tree" suggests a more forest-grown form surrounded more tightly by conifers, and the ferns at its base suggest a circumference you might also find in the adirondacks, nowhere near 15 feet and probably not 12. But that was noted as a distinctive tree, not for being the biggest.

Starting with this image on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/24505006@ ... otostream/
you can navigate through a set of photos from Mcnutt island by clicking through with the left arrow on the side of the screen. It shows quite a bit more of the island's flora and cover type. Almost all of the images can be viewed in high-resolution by clicking on the little down-pointing arrow at the bottom left of the image and then selecting "view all sizes" from the popup menu.

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