Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

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ElijahW
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Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Sun May 07, 2017 7:56 pm

NTS,

Trees Measured:

Red Hickory Carya ovalis (ID tentative)

134.5' x 6'9"
132.6'

Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera

130'

Black Oak Quercus velutina

122.1' x 9'5"

Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis

120'

American Beech Fagus grandifolia

119.8'

Tamarack Larix laricina

78'

Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida

32.8' x 1'3"

Witch hazel Hamamelis virginiana

31' x 9" (Single stem)

Speckled Alder Alnus incana rugosa

28.3' x 10" (CBH at ground level before stems split is 17")

Rucker 5 Height Index: 125.2'

Several years ago, someone local to the area contacted Tom Howard about Powder Mills Park, a Monroe County property, wanting to know if it contained old growth. Last year, Tom and I made an initial visit to the park, and in the intervening months, I've made several more visits. My conclusion is that parts of Powder Mills should be considered old growth, and some portions probably have seen a small amount of selective cutting. The remainder is highly disturbed. By counting rings on a few cut stumps, Black Oak and Hemlock exceed 200 years old, and I got to about 170 rings on a Beech before I hit rotten wood.

As can be seen in my above summary, this area is very unusual in its species makeup. Low, Black Oak-dominated hills surround a segmented bog populated by Tamarack, Black Ash, and Speckled Alder. Normally a significant member of the canopy in our area's oak forests, hickories grow only on the forest edges. Sassafras is also rare, and though White oak is common, Northern Red Oak is not. In the absence of large-tree diversity, smaller trees drew my interest; hence, the mention of several such species. A common pattern I noticed in the transition from oak ridge to bog was Hophornbeam to Flowering Dogwood to American Hornbeam to Witch hazel, concluding with Speckled Alder.

I didn't notice any out of place bog-related plants, such as Blueberry, but I didn't venture very far into the mud, either. With all the recent rain we've had, I might have been stuck for a while.

Like a couple of nearby Monroe County parks, Rosebay Rhododendron is present on at least one hillside.

When I'm able, I'll verify the ID of the tallest two hickories. I'm fairly confident they're Red, but I need to make sure. Some photos from Powder Mills:
Dogwood in bloom
Dogwood in bloom
78' Tamarack
78' Tamarack
Tamarack regeneration
Tamarack regeneration
Black/White Oak slope
Black/White Oak slope
Speckled alder amongst the Skunk cabbage
Speckled alder amongst the Skunk cabbage
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

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun May 07, 2017 9:24 pm

Sounds like a fascinating, atypical environment. Congrats on those tall red hickories- the listed national and NYS champion red hickory, listed at 138' tall, I can confirm as 123.8' tall in reality. Looks like that make these trees the tallest in the state, for sure (the same proved true of the sweetgum and cucumber magnolia currently on the state list, and even moreso).

Very impressed by that black oak. Was it a more upright form of early maturity or an old one getting craggy and gnarled?

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ElijahW
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Mon May 08, 2017 5:00 am

Erik,

Nice job in verifying those trees. Next up should be the 151' Pignut. The Black oak probably is in the 200-year range, but still has an upright, intact top. Most of the Black oaks are bent over and/or have younger leaders due to wind damage. Many are over 110' in height.

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

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon May 08, 2017 7:56 am

Looks like that pignut is a wyoming county Basset tree. If it's not on a private lot I'm sure we can get the location info from the state coordinator, if it was on the submission...

That sounds like the best site for black oak I've heard of in NY state. I wonder what factors have made it so dominant there.

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ElijahW
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Fri May 12, 2017 7:04 pm

Erik,

Tom Howard and I have measured a couple of the same trees as Mr. Basset, and the results were similar. I haven't met him, so I don't know what his measuring methods are, but that pignut in particular seems doubtful. I'm pretty sure we can eventually find red and/or pignut hickory over 140'; I don't think I've seen their optimal habitat yet.

Regarding the dominance of Black oak, I think fire is the most likely cause. Maybe someone has a better explanation?

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

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bbeduhn
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by bbeduhn » Fri May 19, 2017 8:17 am

Nice hickories!!! I would not expect those heights from New York.

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ElijahW
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:29 pm

NTS,

I was able to get a close look today at this year's nuts and leaves from the two hickories I suspected to be Red. I'll post the photos below.
Hickory leaf top
Hickory leaf top
Hickory leaf bottom
Hickory leaf bottom
Hickory nuts
Hickory nuts
DSC01104.JPG
DSC01105.JPG
Every leaf on both trees I was able to see had 5 leaflets, except one malformed one which had 6. The leaf stems and undersides were smooth to the touch; they didn't seem to have the pubescence I've read that's characteristic of Red hickory leaves. I also didn't notice any red coloring on the rachis. I haven't found a good twig from these trees to examine the buds, but everything really seems to indicate Pignut instead of Red hickory. I'd like more opinions on my photos and description if anyone is able to help. Thanks a bunch,

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

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bbeduhn
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:50 am

Elijah,
The bark still favors red but it is inconclusive. Your consistent five leaves and lack of red would certainly indicate pignut. The fruits are also inconclusive but at least one has the pignut shape and at least one has the half dehiscence. I tend to agree with your conclusion on pignut but there may be some intergrading between the species.
Brian

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ElijahW
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by ElijahW » Sun May 10, 2020 7:45 pm

Brian,

Thanks. Sorry the reply took so long. I spent this afternoon at Powder Mills and checked out a few more suspect hickories. I found one that seems a pretty good mix of Red and Pignut (markedly darker bark with deep, slightly peeling ridges, but still elongated nuts with partially dehiscent shells). I didn’t find any clear examples of Red Hickory, and I’m not sure if any exist nearby. I’ll keep looking, though.

I have some updated measurements as well:

Pignut Hickory Carya glabra (same two trees originally measured)

136.8’ x 7.03’
134.4’ x 4.82’

Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis

125.7’ (double trunk)

Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera (same tree previously listed)

135.3’ x 13.74’

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra

131.7’ x 7.51’
130.0’ x 6.53’

Black Oak Quercus velutina

124.7’ x 5.50’

White Oak Quercus alba

116.1’ x 4.94’

Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia

123.3’ (double trunk)

Sugar Maple Acer saccharum

116.0’

Bigtooth Aspen Populus grandidentata

114.7’ x 3.49’

Eastern Hemlock Tsuga canadensis

109.6’ x 7.51’

Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus

130.7 (on private property adjacent to the park)

Rucker Index: 126.0’

The tallest listed Northern Red Oak, Black Oak, Bitternut, and Black Locust are all youngsters growing between pine plantations. I don’t think that they’re more than seventy years old or so.

I was able to get some more ring counts on fallen trees in addition to the ones already mentioned:

- 3 Black Oaks between 150 and 165 years old
- 1 Northern Red Oak approximately 170 years old
- 1 Large Hemlock at least 165 years old (likely closer to 200 years, but not provable)

Elijah

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bbeduhn
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Re: Powder Mills Park, Pittsfield, Monroe County

Post by bbeduhn » Mon May 18, 2020 10:47 am

Elijah,
As far as the nuts are concerned, I think they're red. They can have a slight piggy look to them. The two in your hand actually look to be intergraded. The single nuts definitely look red. The leaves do look red despite having five. Reds often have a mix of five and seven leaves. The end three tend to be larger. The bark certainly looks to be red. I think they're red.
Brian

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