Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

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Matt Markworth
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Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Matt Markworth » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:54 pm

NTS,

I've wanted to visit Daughmer Bur Oak Savannah for quite some time and yesterday I finally made the trip. This site is very well-known and there is a lot of available information explaining the significance of the site. It represents the best example of the tiny amount of tall grass prairie and oak savannah remaining in Ohio.

The plan was to get there early, stroll the paths, and enjoy the majestic bur oaks. Measuring trees was not a primary goal because any serious measurement effort would require a lot of off-path walking, which isn't a good idea given the presence of threatened plant species. I measured a couple accessible trees and that was sufficient. All the trees can easily be seen from the path, so it's not difficult to get a feel for the size of the trees. I'll have to dig out my LiDAR file for the site, which provides a very close approximation of the modest heights.

I've read several sources discussing the historical significance of the tall grass prairies of the Darby and Sandusky Plains and one is left with the impression that there are just a handful of very small remnants that remain, mostly in very small state nature preserves. It's true that original tall grass prairie and oak savannah is exceedingly rare, but the part of the story that I'm not sure has been told is the abundance of bur oaks that were left behind. I was struck by the sheer number of ancient bur oaks located outside the boundary of Daughmer Savannah in the surrounding Sandusky Plains.

On my way back home I decided to stop at two well-known historical cemeteries (Smith and Bigelow) that are also remnants of the original landscape. Again, I was flabbergasted at the sheer number of ancient bur oaks in fields, yards and just about anywhere. Unknowingly at the time, I had been traveling through the heart of the Darby Plains on my way home and there are an incredible number of bur oaks scattered across the countryside. Is it possible that with so much attention given to the tiny fraction of untrammeled remaining original prairie that the significance of these surviving bur oaks, as a whole, has gone relatively unnoticed?

While determining tree age without coring can be very much of an estimate, I was able to count rings from a large branch cut fairly high up from a medium-sized bur oak and counted approximately 175 rings. The thick, gnarly branches high up in the crown also give a clue to their great age.

Most of these bur oaks may no longer be surrounded by the famous prairie sod and tall grass of the past, but they are truly survivors. Given the special nature of the trees, and considering that many of them are on private land with the possibility of further encroachment, I think there is benefit in raising awareness of the importance of privately held ancient bur oaks, similar to efforts occurring down in the Bluegrass of Kentucky. Their story of origination is very different from the Bluegrass trees, but their significance may be just as high. So, what I thought would simply be a pleasant trip to see an amazing bur oak savannah turned into what I think can be a documentation effort to raise awareness of the special nature of the Darby and Sandusky Plains bur oaks.

Now for some photos followed by the numbers from yesterday.
Daughmer Savannah
Daughmer Savannah
Smith Cemetery
Smith Cemetery
Bur Oak in London
Bur Oak in London
All of the measurements are bur oaks. Bigelow Cemetery has a couple old, medium-sized shingle oaks, but they are off-path and were not measured.

Daughmer Savannah
17.88' x 70'
14.2' x 70'

Smith Cemetery
12.56' x 65.5'
11.57' x 65.5'
11.48' x 54.5'

Rosedale
11.77' x 80'
10.1' x 82.5'
10.45' x lost top

London
13.29' x 62.5'

Finally, here is a rough sketch of the Darby and Sandusky Plains and the associated counties. This is the area I'll focus on and of course any measurements/photos from other ENTS are welcome!
Ohio.jpg
Matt

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:28 am

Matt- Great Project with the Bur Oaks. One of my favorite tree species. So much to enjoy with Burr Oak- The Bark is way cool, the leaves are so huge, largest Acorn in North American and the older trees have such a wild shape to them. The tree is so easy to grow- I have several from acorns I picked up in Texas at a Crackle Barrel Restaurant Parking Lot a few years back. They grow great here for the first 10-15 years then are susceptible to Humidity, Fungus and Insects. Would love to help you with this Project but alas can't be everywhere. Larry

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Matt Markworth » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:43 pm

Larry,

Thanks, it's definitely near the top, if not at the top of my list of favorite species.

Here's another one I measured last year that at the time I didn't realize was in the Darby Plains, along with another nice oak in a nearby field. These are in Pickaway County. The Daughmer bur oaks are in Crawford County and the others ones I posted on are in Madison County.
15'8" x 75' bur oak
15'8" x 75' bur oak
field near q bur oak.JPG
Matt

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Lucas
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Lucas » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:02 am


Click on image to see its original size

https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=ch ... dianapolis

http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/macrocar ... nteresting

"The World's Best Photos of macrocarpa and oak - Flickr"

A pompous title but some nice pix of the Kile oak.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Lucas
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Lucas » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:07 am


Click on image to see its original size

I like these Burs. Supposed to be in Montreal.

I can't remember where I saw it. I am amazed at the info on trees and the general discard regard for them.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Rand
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Rand » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:12 am

The big tree on the left looks like a big american elm to me....making it a bit more interesting actually.

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Lucas
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Lucas » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:17 am

Rand wrote:The big tree on the left looks like a big american elm to me....making it a bit more interesting actually.
I am pretty sure they said Bur oak but it does look like elm. I will see if I can confirm.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Lucas
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Lucas » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:07 pm

http://floraurbana.blogspot.ca/2013/07/ ... lorme.html

The park is located on a meadow where there were farmland and St. Aubin stream past. Until it was made ​​a park, which was remodeled several times, but there was trees with a forest of American elm trees. ( Read a bit about the history of the park here )

This forest remains. Pictured above, from left to right:

1- Ulmus americana , American elm, American elm
2- Quercus macrocarpa , Bur Oak, Bur oak
3- Quercus macrocarpa , Bur Oak, Bur oak

https://www.google.ca/search?q=bur+oak+ ... q=bur+oak+

To my surprise, I found it with a google image search limited by size. I hadn't tried that before.

Good call on the left hand Am elm.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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jemaloof
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by jemaloof » Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:59 pm

Yes Matt! Thank you for this important work.

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Darby and Sandusky Plains Bur Oak Project

Post by Matt Markworth » Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:42 pm

Thanks Joan! The trees need our collective voice!

I was in Fayette County today, the southernmost county on the map shown above, and I continue to be amazed at the number of very old bur oaks on the fringes of farm fields, in yards, roadsides, etc. I'll keep putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but my first impressions are that this is a very special region.

Matt

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