Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ritchie Ledges

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Steve Galehouse
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Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ritchie Ledges

Post by Steve Galehouse » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:16 pm

ENTS-

Today while driving to Kent State University to pick up my youngest son for winter break I took a short detour to Ritchie Ledges in northern Summit County, Ohio. This is an area I've posted about a couple of times before, mainly in reference to a stand of Carolina hemlock present there along a sandstone cliff. The main purpose of the trip was to record the largest individual of that species for nomination to the state "big tree" database---there currently is no entry for Carolina hemlock, so I'm quite sure this tree(on left) will be the record, at 66' in height and 4' 2'' in girth:
Carolina hemlock 66' x 4' top.jpg
I also remeasured a nice tuliptree and cucumber magnolia, which have grown since last measuring in April 2009--the tulip is now 131.2' in height, 11' 5'' girth:
Tuliptree 131,2' x 11' 5''.jpg
The magnolia is now 124' in height, 9' 6'' in girth:
Cucumber magnolia 124' x 9' 6''.jpg
Cucumber magnolia 124' x 9' 6'' crown.jpg
It was a very pleasant morning, with a fresh snowfall and no-one else in the woods. The colors in the sandstone cliffs seem to become more vibrant in winter:
Colorful sandstone.jpg
Typical scenery.jpg
Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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tsharp
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Re: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ritchie Ledges

Post by tsharp » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:40 pm

Steve: Have you thought about presenting a herbarium quality specimen to an appropriate institution of the Carolina Hemlock. It is an amazing occurrence if it has not been planted.
T Sharp

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ritchie Ledges

Post by Steve Galehouse » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:20 pm

Turner-

Here is a link from the main ENTS website to an earlier thread regarding the Carolina hemlock population: http://groups.google.com/group/entstree ... f0f2?hl=en

And another link to a Picasa album with more photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/srgalehouse ... directlink

They are definitely Carolina hemlocks---the Ohio DNR knows of them and feels they were planted during the 1930's as part of a CCC project, and the CCC did develop trails in the area. I just find it highly unlikely a relatively obscure species would have been planted back then, perfectly sited on a western facing sandstone cliff along with associated plants like blueberry, serviceberry and mountain-holly, especially when a large, very native population of Eastern hemlock is contiguous with this stand. There are over 90 individuals of Carolina hemlock, ranging from 60'+ to saplings and seedlings---certainly not an even aged stand as would be expected if planted in the 1930's. I also question if the largest individuals could achieve their size in 80 years time--they grow more slowly than Eastern hemlock. At the very least this is a reproducing, native appearing population that might end up as the "last stand" as the adelgid progresses north and west

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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Josh Kelly
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Re: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ritchie Ledges

Post by Josh Kelly » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:13 am

Steve,

Beautiful site and beautiful photos. I remain intrigued by the Carolina hemlocks there. If that population were native it would represent a range expansion for the species of several hundred miles. I hope you get the chance to core a few of those Carolina hemlocks soon! By the looks of them, they may not be very old. Carolina hemlock has amazing bark texture and limb sinuousity in even moderately old individuals and in truly old trees their Tao factor (the extent to which a tree resembles one from a Taoist painting) is incomparable. Those are traits I don't see in the photos you have posted. I have cored several very old looking Carolinas and none have exceeded 170 years. Unless a core could be obtained that predates the CCC era, it would be hard to disprove that hypothesis, though I agree that if the site was planted it was done with an uncanny feel for the species' ecology. Please collect some specimens if you return! Keep us updated!

Josh

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