Here is my report on the May 5 survey of Washington Grove:
On this beautiful cool sunny day, Larry Champoux and I had a glorious visit to this magnificent old growth oak forest east of Cobbs Hill Park in Rochester. This survey convinced me that this is the finest old growth oak forest I’ve ever seen. Washington Grove could contain the tallest White Oak, Black Oak, Sassafras, and Butternut in New York State, and it is also possible that the oldest Black Oaks in existence are in this grove. We need to get Neil Pederson up here with his increment borer, and since we had no access to laser rangefinders, we need to get some of the height measuring NTS up here.
These Oaks really look extremely tall for so far north, with Black Oaks and White Oaks seeming to be at least 120 ft. or more tall. The tallest Sassafras could be as much as 120 ft. tall, far higher than the tallest Sassafras I know of in upstate NY, 86-87 ft. trees in North Syracuse. It was a perfect time to be in the Grove, with the lofty Oaks in bloom, with tiny yellow (and sometimes orange) blossoms festooning the otherwise bare branches. Sassafras looked the same as the Oaks with yellow blossoms on bare branches. The tall Black Cherries in the canopy were in nearly full leaf. Also the many invasive Norway Maples that dominate the understory were in leaf. The Friends of Washington Grove are trying to remove the Norway Maples in an effort to bring the Grove back to its old growth state. The seemingly endless numbers of huge ancient Oaks have many of the characteristics of old trees as described in Neil Pederson’s article, “External Characteristics of Old Trees in the Eastern Deciduous Forest”, Natural Areas Journal, Volume 30 (4), 2010: 396-407.
Black Oak log cross-section - 1.3’ radius, inner .1’ to pith missing, 260 rings on intact portion, about 20 ft. above base, tree possibly lived close to 300 years
Black Oak log cross-section - .94’ radius, 264 rings – as far as I know, the highest ever ring count for Black Oak (the max. age for Black Oak in Neil Pederson’s Eastern Oldlist is 257 years), so this could be a world record age for Black Oak.
White Oak 28.5” dbh (7.46’ cbh), old with balding bark, spiral grain, crown composed of few large crooked limbs, largest White Oak in small group of that species near Nunda Blvd.
near this White Oak Black Oak 36.8” dbh (9.63’ cbh) – balding bark, stem sinuosity, crown composed of few large crooked limbs
Black Cherry same area 30.2” dbh (7.93’ cbh), est. 110’ tall
at edge by Nunda Blvd., growing next to shed in hollow, tall forest-grown Black Oak, est. 120’ tall
Black Oak upslope 40.4” dbh (10.48’ cbh), old tree with leaning trunk (many of the old Black Oaks have leaning trunks), crooked crown of few large branches
White Oak, forest-grown 33.1” dbh (8.7’ cbh), spiral grain, big limbs in crown
Black Oak 36.9” dbh (9.71’ cbh) – balding bark, low stem taper, stem sinuosity, crown with big crooked limbs, est. 115-120’ tall
We walked to the northern part of the Grove, to a 2nd growth area with lots of young Red Oak in what used to be a quarry.
near boundary between old growth and 2nd growth:
Red Oak at trail junction 46.8” dbh (12.26’ cbh) – partly open-grown (only non totally forest-grown tree examined this day) with massive limbs, hole that looks like increment borer hole (it’s possible that some of these trees have been cored, possibly by Bruce Kershner?)
Sassafras cross-section in younger area – 85 rings, 3.5” radius, 20’ above base
Sassafras in younger area 16.9” dbh (4.42’ cbh) – Sassafras common in younger area under dominant Red Oaks, and some large Black Oaks
We re-entered the old growth in a hollow with huge trees (and a fairly tall young Tuliptree, and many much larger Oaks). In this area:
huge Black Oak 40.5” dbh (10.6’ cbh) – balding bark, stem sinuosity
In the hollow an old fallen log crossed the trail, and the spiral grain of the log was clearly visible.
Sassafras in hollow with trunk snapped off – about 155 rings counted on natural break, 4.5” radius
Oak log cross-section - species unknown – no bark – 270 rings, 8” radius
White Oak forest-grown in hollow near Nunda Blvd., a huge limb fallen out of its crown right by it, remaining crown composed of few crooked limbs; tree seems to be at least 120’ tall, biggest forest-grown White Oak I’ve ever seen –
43.8” dbh (11.48’ cbh)
near trail junction with many Black Oaks (site described in 4/7/2012 report with group of Black Oaks over 3’ dbh), by north side of trail that branches off from Center Trail, Oak log cross-section – 250 rings, species unknown as there is no bark, 13” radius
This section, north of Center Trail, is possibly the tallest part of Washington Grove. It is a low-lying area dominated by towering White Oaks and Black Oaks that seem to be at least 110-over 120’ tall. In this section:
White Oak by trail, forest-grown, looks like over 120’ tall –
25” dbh (6.6’ cbh), balding bark, a lot of Sassafras in understory.
Nearby another very tall White Oak rises above a large patch of invasive Lily of the Valley.
Black Oak in hollow 42.9” dbh (11.25’ cbh) old lightning scar, big crooked limbs in lofty crown, easily 110’ tall, with even taller White Oak nearby
big Black Oak Center Trail 43.1” dbh (11.28’ cbh) orange flowers
possibly biggest Sassafras 19” dbh (5’ cbh) – this tree is awesomely tall, possibly 115-120’ tall, as tall as the tallest Oaks around it, its crown sticking up high above a tall leafy Black Cherry; this could be the tallest Sassafras in NY State.
near just above – hollow Butternut with buttress base 27.3” dbh (7.15’ cbh), est. over 100’ tall, possibly tallest Butternut in NY State
Earlier, we looked at a fallen White Oak in one of the glacial kettle holes, a tree that was very tall – I counted at least 150 rings on log cross-section, pith hollow.
Washington Grove Trees 40”+ dbh from 4/7/2012 and 5/5/2012 surveys – 14:
Black Oak - 8
Red Oak - 5
White Oak - 1
Over 50” dbh – 2 Black Oaks (see 4/7/2012 report)