Housatonic Excursions

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

Housatonic Excursions

Post by ryandallas » Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:59 pm

This weekend I went to the Housatonic river valley, where I revisited some old discoveries and made a few new ones as well.

First I went to Osborndale State Park, which is in Derby, on the eastern side of the river. Bart and I visited this spot in 2012. Here I measured a large black birch snag I had discovered in 2017. The snag has deteriorated since then, but it's still standing, thankfully. Even though it's only 51 feet tall, its impressive trunk is 9' 10" around at breast height, and 9' 4" around at the narrowest part. This means it's almost as girthy as the huge black birch at LAke Mohegan (http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=161&t=7455&hilit=large+betula+lenta).
OsborndaleBlackBirch.png
Like the Lake Mohegan tree, this black birch is (or was) a farm tree. It looks like it might start shedding branches soon, so I'm glad I got to photograph it before it fell apart.

Next, I went to Cullens Hill Road, also in Derby. This is another spot Bart and I hit in 2012. While we were driving north on route 34, he noticed a large sycamore, and we pulled off to take a look. The sycamore was neat, but the real prize was a very tall bitternut hickory. A straight-up shot revealed a height of 138 feet. Later I went to this spot alone, and measured the hickory to 140 feet (http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=161&t=3946&p=16583&hilit=derby#p16478). I wanted to see this tree again, but since parking on Cullens Hill isn't a good idea (it's a very old and narrow farm road), I decided to approach the tree from the Kellogg environmental center, which is a quarter mile away. Shortly after entering the woods, I found this huge black birch.
CullensBlackBirchOne.png
The ground it's growing on is a little funky, so I wasn't sure where breast height was. Eventually I settled on a CBH of 9' 3". This is 3 inches short of the Lake Mohegan tree and 1 inch short of the Osborndale tree, but unlike those birches, this one is forest grown! The absurd swelling of the base is due to a large rock, which can be seen in the photos. As of now, this is the girthiest single-stem forest-grown black birch I have measured. I was short on time, and vantage points were hard to come by, but 80-85 feet was the best I could do with regards to height.

Plowing onward, I came to another large black birch. This lacked the swollen base, but its girth was respectable and it was more voluminous. 8' 5" x 106 were my measurements.
CullensBlackBirchThree.png
I climbed a small hill to measure the above tree, and while I was up there I came across this tree, which had an absurdly swollen, rotted-out base.
CullensBlackBirchFour.png
The girth was 8' 9", and the height was about 85 feet. The hole in the trunk was not left by a fallen branch. At one point this black birch may have been girthier than any birch referenced in this article.

{EDIT: I was not satisfied with my measurement of the bitternut hickory, so I did not include here.}

Finally, I went to Indian Well Park, where I remeasured and photographed a tall tulip I had discovered in February of this year. As far as I know, this is the only 150-footer in the park proper. Bart and Bob discovered a tall tulip tree nearby, but that tree is (I think) in the Birchbank Open Space. (See here:http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=161&t=3898&p=16282&hilit=indian+well+indian+well+tulip+spot#p16282)The Open Space.)

Here is the tree:
IndianWellTulip.png
The measurements were 150' even by 9'10". Although this tree is quite large, it also looks to be quite young, so it might add significant height in the years to come. On the other hand, it towers above the surrounding forest, and this might inhibit its growth. The hillside pictured here holds a very large pure stand of tulips, one of the largest I have seen in SW CT. Several tree in the foreground must have been 140+, but it's unlikely there's another 150-footer here.
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CullensHickory.png
Last edited by ryandallas on Fri May 22, 2020 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dbhguru
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Re: Housatonic Excursions

Post by dbhguru » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Ryan,

My assumption is that the non-tulip tree at 142 is a hickory. Is that correct?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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

Re: Housatonic Excursions

Post by ryandallas » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:34 pm

Bob--Yes, the 142' tree is a bitternut hickory. This is a great spot. It's almost directly across the river from the 152' tulip. Even though this spot (where the bitternut grows) is prime tulip habitat, tulips are conspicuous by their absence. It does seem like Liriodendron prefers east-facing slopes, for some reason.

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dbhguru
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Re: Housatonic Excursions

Post by dbhguru » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:31 am

Ryan,

To my knowledge, you now hold the New England height record for bitternut, as well as tuliptree. Maybe we can create an all New England tree height list. Connecticut should make a big splash.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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

Re: Housatonic Excursions

Post by ryandallas » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:48 pm

That would be interesting! Connecticut would dominate :D

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ElijahW
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Re: Housatonic Excursions

Post by ElijahW » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:35 pm

Ryan,

Those are some outstanding trees. Great job in finding them. I’m looking forward to seeing your final number on the White Ash, as well.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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

Re: Housatonic Excursions

Post by ryandallas » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:35 am

Thanks Elijah. I think the white ash will be in the 145-150 foot range, but measuring it will be tricky, due to undergrowth, etc. But I'll try to get a better measurement soon.

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