Sharon, Ct Thuja Occidentalis

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
ryandallas
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:23 pm

Sharon, Ct Thuja Occidentalis

Post by ryandallas » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:33 pm

Today I went into the Northwest corner of CT and measured a remarkable Thuja tree. It grows in a cemetery by Ellsworth Hill Orchard, which on Cornwall Bridge Road in Sharon.

The tree's height was 71.5 ft.

I could not wrap the tape all the way around the trunk because there was a massive poison ivy vine on the tree, and because the trunk was enveloping a nearby headstone. Based on what I could get the tape around, I extrapolated at CBH of ~9'4". This is probably pretty close to the actual value, since the trunk is columnar.

The average crown spread was 37.85 ft.

In addition, I went to see a snag which had stood on the east banks of the Housatonic River, just south of the the famous Cornwall Bridge. I saw this snag last year, but did not have any measuring equipment with me at that time, unfortunately. The snag had lost all of its bark and its crown, but it was still around thirty feet tall and six feet in diameter at breast height, based on photos I took. Bark I found at the base of the tree last year suggested that the tree had been a cottonwood. Anyway, the snag is no more, unfortunately. It has totally collapsed into a pile of rubble. I really regret not putting a tape around it when I was in the area last year, and I really wish I could have seen the tree when it was alive. But at least I have a photo.

The snag's google maps coordinates were 41.869625, -73.363086.

User avatar
JHarkness
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Re: Sharon, Ct Thuja Occidentalis

Post by JHarkness » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:15 pm

Ryan,

Impressive cedar! This is actually very close to me and I've driven by the tree many times, I don't recall ever seeing it, however. Naturally occurring ones aren't actually that uncommon in the area, they're just hard to find and often grow in association with the non-native (to the area's wetlands) eastern juniper. However, naturally occurring ones of that size don't seem to be anywhere nearby given that much of the land they grow on was recently agricultural land (hence the presence of eastern juniper). I've had a long running suspicion that northern white cedar was once a dominant wetland tree in the area. That snag doesn't surprise me, there are tons of huge cottonwoods, as well as sycamores, that reach that size in the Housatonic River Valley, I personally know of a cottonwood in southwestern Massachusetts which is approximately 8' in diameter, and that is after it took some serious storm damage and lost a large lower limb and part of it's trunk, I can only imagine how massive the trees in this valley were prior to European colonization.

Joshua Harkness
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

ryandallas
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:23 pm

Re: Sharon, Ct Thuja Occidentalis

Post by ryandallas » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:54 pm

Joshua,

Thanks for your reply.

The tree is located on Cemetery Road in Sharon. It's the only Thuja there--all of the other trees in the cemetery were Norway spruce I think.

In CT, I have seen naturally occurring Thujas at only one place--Lake Wintergreen, which is in the New Haven area. There were quite a few smaller ones there. This one is way, way bigger. I'm tempted to say it's a Thuja plicata but I don't think plicatas can live in zone 5, or whatever the Sharon area is.

Finding the snag last year was a surreal experience. It was a dark, gloomy day and the snag was shaded by much younger trees that were growing around it. I really wish I had measured it, but I do have the photo, which I will post soon. I am over six feet tall, and the trunk looks to be about as wide as I am tall. And this is without any bark!
If you want, you can easily see what's left of the tree. Just take Lower River Road in West Cornwall and then pull off onto the gravel parking lot that's on the right.

Have you posted about that cottonwood in MA? That sounds insane!

You say you are in the Sharon area? Would you like to meet up and measure some trees sometime? There's a sycamore in Gaylordsville that might be worth measuring.

User avatar
JHarkness
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 5:44 pm

Re: Sharon, Ct Thuja Occidentalis

Post by JHarkness » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:09 am

Ryan,

I'm sure the tree is thuja occidentalis, I regularly see them attaining that size (and even greater size) in the central Adirondacks, I've seen some which must have been 11' CBH or more, tall ones are rare, but I suspect they do occasionally reach 85 or 90 feet, these are very slow growing trees so ones of this size are almost always old growth. It's interesting that you compared it western red cedar, I've had that impression before in the Adirondacks, there was one grove of old growth hemlock and white cedar I visited and the size of the cedars made it felt as if I was walking through a Pacific Northwest forest, granted the harsh climate meant that the trees were stunted, and many had broken tops, few were probably over 80', but they were some of the most impressive trees I've ever seen. I would think that the cedars in New Haven would be atlantic white cedar, I wasn't aware that northern white cedar grew that far south. I personally have seen scattered individuals and small populations in and around wetlands in the Canaan area, I know of a few populations at high elevations east of the Housatonic River Valley growing in association with balsam fir and black spruce as well, my guess is there are many more in the area, it seems like prime habitat for them.
IMG_2484.jpg
This is one of the old growth white cedars I was referring to, this was probably the largest I saw that day but there were many, many more close to its size. This is in an old growth spruce-fir forest at around 3,000' in elevation, never logged.


Now that you mention the road that the snag is on, I think I have seen it before, though it was in the middle of the summer so it was hard to see and I didn't pay much attention to it, I was under the impression that it was sycamore for some reason.


The cottonwood in Massachusetts is on private property so I haven't been able to measure it, however I should be able to get permission from the owners, I'm sure they would be excited at its status. I don't know what the stats for the Massachusetts cottonwood champion are, but I figured that this could possibly be a little larger. It was likely planted, if so it probably would have been when the village was settled, which was in the 1720s, so yes, it is a very, very old tree.


I'm actually in New York a little west of Sharon, I don't get down to the Gaylordsville area much, but I'm often in the northwest corner of CT and of course east-central NY. But maybe we could meet up some time.



Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

ryandallas
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:23 pm

Re: Sharon, Ct Thuja Occidentalis

Post by ryandallas » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:55 pm

That's an amazing Thuja! I want to see the Adirondacks badly.

If that cottonwood is a single stem, then it might be the NTS national champion. The National Forestry National Champion, located near Harrisburg PA, is an impressive tree but it clearly is multi-stemmed. Another tree located in central Ohio is ten feet thick, but it is clearly multi-stemmed as well. I just looked at MA's champion tree list, and their champion cottonwood is less than 8 ft. thick, and it too might be multi-stemmed.

Sure! If you ever want to do some measuring just contact me via PM.

Post Reply

Return to “Connecticut”