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Re: Valuing Forests

hi Ed,

Very nice. Another value to be listed is 'scientific value', especially for old-growth forests. That value has grown tree-mendously for me over the last 15 yrs. The things old forest can inform us about is massive. Their scientific value cannot be understated.

Here is the first page of a nice paper outlining some of these values. If anyone would like a copy, please email me.

by Neil
Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:20 am
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estimate global canopy height

Ryan McEwan sent this across my email earlier today - thought ENTS would appreciate it [apologies if it is already posted - couldn't find it].

NASA estimated global canopy heights using LiDAR:

i bet you guys could have a field day with this, eh Will? Bob? et al.?

to my eyes they are missing some forest here and there, like parts of Mongolia. but, i wonder how they handled canopy gaps?
by Neil
Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:31 pm
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good use of ENTS tree height data

Dear ENTS,

while looking for other things, i found this paper: Effects of Landform on Site Index for Two Mesophytic Tree Species in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA by Henry McNab:

it seems like this kind of research would be a good use of the vast data set of ENTS - testing whether landform as defined here is a good predictor of tree height. a serious modeling would likely be needed to calculate landform for the many places that have been measured by ENTS, but it seems like a nice scaled-up test that ENTS could address. i guess other bits of data to fully test the idea - soil moisture, soil quality, etc.

here is the abstract [you can fully access the paper from the link above]:


The effects of soil and topographic variables on forest site index were determined for two mesophytic tree species, northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) and yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Stand variables included soil solum thickness, soil A-horizon thickness, elevation, aspect, slope gradient, and landform index. Landform index is a recently devised environmental variable that has been used to quantify the influence of topography surrounding a stand on productivity. Regression analysis indicated that among the variables only landform index had a significant (P<.05) relationship with site index and explained 46 percent of the variation for northern red oak and 56 percent for yellow-poplar. Plot data from this study were also used to validate a previously developed prediction equation for estimating yellow-poplar site index and results indicated that unbiased estimates would be within 2.5 m. Results from this study suggest that landform accounts for variation in site index of mesophytic species in mountainous terrain that is not explained by conventional stand variables associated with soil and topography.
by Neil
Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:21 am
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Israeli Forests

Dear ENTS,

wanted to share a few pictures of the forest along the Hermon River and Banias Falls in the Golan Heights region. We saw Oriental planetree, common oak, Tabor oak, Storax and fig trees. It was a nice respite from the barren landscape typifying Golan.


a plaque saying that God does not want us to pollute


Oriental planetree


fig trees dominate the understory


more fig & planetree forest


typical trail scenery


finally, Banias falls. don't miss granny splashing in the water
by Neil
Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:22 am
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Re: Israeli Forests

Dear ENTS,

family friends took us on a one-day mad dash through the northern end of the Negev Desert:

we stumbled upon a couple interesting tree species. the second species will have to wait until i get back to the US and my batter charger for my main camera.

we hiked up into Ein Avat canyon and passed through a small grove of Mesopotamian poplar (Populus euphratica) - - a couple close ups of the bark and leaves are on my other camera as well. they will be posted later. until then, enjoy this small grove of poplars.


approaching the forest grove




in-forest profile


stream leaner


treeline singleton


forest view from canyon top
by Neil
Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:40 am
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Kudos Master Jess Riddle

Dear ENTS,

I want you to know and help celebrate Jess Riddle's passing of his master's thesis defense today at SUNY-ESF. As you can imagine based upon his posts here with us on ENTS, Jess brought solid logic, excellent observations and careful scrutiny to his research project to produce a very fine thesis. Heck, we should have given him his MS as soon as he finished cross-dating Juniperus communis - it ain't kid's play.

Congratulations Jess!

by Neil
Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:24 am
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Re: moved: small Sugar Maple rich NJ forest patch

hi Greenent,

i agree it does look somewhat young.

there is a small patch of old-growth oak & some tulip poplars in northcentral NJ. like the pix above, the trees are not that impressive, but a number of the tulips date to the early- to mid-1700s. some of the red oak date to the late-1700s while a handful of the chestnut oaks date to the late-1500s and early-1600s. pretty unimpressive stand for trees size [though some of the tulips are decent]. the age is there, though. the Atlantic whitecedar stand next to it is roughly 150 yrs old. the larch in that stand are young. that area seems to have been cut. it could be that the old upland patch had been partially thinned. haven't done a full survey of the site.

pix below.




by Neil
Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:36 am
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Re: Hudson Highlands State Park

hi All,

During a week off, I hiked part of Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park. It was a lovely day and I was just introduced to photosynth, an app for a smartphone that allows instant creation of panoramic pictures. sometimes the pans turn out decently.

below is a picture of the Hudson Highlands with Storm King directly across the river. i almost always am taken aback when i consider these scenes just 60 or less north of NYC.


by Neil
Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:35 am
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Re: Adirondack Adventures


those red pine near Raquette Lake, are they right on Rt 28? if so, i've cored the 18-20 oldest looking individuals in ~2003. the oldest one has a ring count 320-350 yrs. a new undergraduate student in the lab has just started working up those cores. hope to get good, cross-dated ages before 2012.


the practical forestry book - it is a hard find. can't remember how i got my hands on it the first time i read it [in the 1990s]. i purchased the last copy Amazon had last month. I would love more information than what is in it, but it is nice to have good observations from the late-1890s.

by Neil
Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:33 pm
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Manchuria, aka northeast China

Dear NTS,

Apologies for the lack of participation lately. This has been an especially busy period for me that coincided with a fortunate series of visits to other broad-leaved, temperate forests in Asia. It was such a dendro-trip! I was thinking of NTS often, especially those of you living in New England or, specifically, central Massachusetts. I took many pictures of what I saw in Manchuria (northeast China) and western Bhutan; too many. So, over the next few weeks, I will upload pictures of specific plants and landscapes that ought to mostly seem familiar to many NTS. Too bad China so effectively shuts down access to bulletin boards and blogs. There could be a great bridge formed between North American and Asian NTS.

My first stop was to northeast China, an area originally known as Manchuria. I had dreamed of making it to this part of the world after learning of the similar botanical elements and ecosystems. Pictures of Harbin’s ice festival convinced me that this part of the world would feel like home (I’m from near the Adirondack Mtns).

I flew into Shenyang late one night and fairly early the next morning was driven 7 hrs to near the border with the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, aka North Korea. The weather held and I got a glimpse of the volcanic lake shared by China and North Korea on top of Changbai Shan.



The other side of the lake is the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea.

I was repeatedly told this was a rare sighting and I was lucky person; lucky indeed. We drove through a birch-dominated forest to make it to the mountaintop. We didn’t get to hike in this forest, but it felt quite familiar.

We did get to hike at lower elevation in the ‘Dell Forest’. Most nature preserves I’ve been in in China have trails that are boardwalked or paved. This was no different.


What really captured my attention, however, was the feel of the forest. I had gone hiking in the ADKs just two weeks earlier with my wife. We hiked through a spruce- birch-maple forest with some ash, larch and a witch-hobble understory in the ADKs. The Dell Forest? Larch, spruce, fir, ash [mountain and true], maple and a handful of other familiar genera like Rhododendron. Below are some examples of the species we saw. The larch and the mountain ash fruit were in full color. It was lucky timing.


general Dell Forest interior scene


Abies nephrolepsis pole stem


Acer comarovii


largish Acer ukurunduense stem


Acer ukurunduense twig and buds


Alnus mandshurica

and, a final landscape scene for today:

by Neil
Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:18 am
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Dear NTS,

Happy New Yr - I wish you all a tree-filled 2012; I know that will be fulfilled.

I also want to take you through my trip to Bhutan in October 2011. The discussion on the big Ostrya in the tropics triggered this series of postings. Wait until you see the Symplocus from southern Bhutan! I will start this series with the travel into Bhutan. It is a long, exciting trip. I started my journey from the city of Shenyang in northeast China. Despite starting on that side of the world, it still took a bit over 9 hours of flying from Shenyang to Paro, Bhutan: Shenyang --> Shanghai --> Bangkok, Thailand --> Paro. Of course, the most exciting portion was on the last leg into Bhutan. As Bhutan is still a hard to reach, but often dreamed of destination, my fellow passengers acted like I recall my first plane ride - total giddiness! Cliched, but the excitement was truly palpable.

The only way they allow planes to fly into Paro during daylight hours and visual meteorological conditions . Unfortunately for us, it was cloudy at our cruising height, so it was hard to get an overview of the Himalayas.


Peaks of the Himalayas emerging from the clouds.


As we started our descent, of course, we could see into the Kingdom of Bhutan.


Our final approach included a sharp bend into the narrow valley holding the landing strip (a strip that is from two directions depending on the direction of the wind), a short hop over one final ridge line into the valley, nearly clipping houses and Buddhist structures and then a final hard turn to the left just before touching down.

Want to get a sense of what it is like to land at Paro? Check out this clip:


Obviously we made it. But, this view shows how closed in the valley is.

The drive from Paro to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital, is a little over 50 km, but roughly an hour to drive. I do not generally get car sick, but Bhutan's roads are a real test:

We were delayed coming from Bangkok, so our trip to Thimphu was a race against the setting sun. I did get some glimpses of the two main pine in Bhutan, blue pine and chir pine. The pictures below are from other days and other parts of the trip. First, blue pine.


Like the Korean pine of northeast China, I was blown away by blue pine's resemblance to eastern white pine [or, likely more correct evolutionarily-speaking, vice-versa]. See how the fluffiness of the blue pine's crown resembles other white pines? For some reason, I didn't purposefully take more pictures of blue pine. I was obsesses with seeing the broadleaf species. I did get some other trees in the background of other pictures. The best one is below.


Most of the blue pine we saw were young and seeding in following fire. They apparently planted thousands of blue pine outside of microsite requirements along the road from Paro to Thimphu. During some severe autumn droughts over the last 10 years the blue pine have been dying back. A Bhutanese scientist has connected severe autumn drought to the dieback of blue pine.

What captured most of my attention on the drive in, however, were the chir pine.


Chir pine bark


Chir pine twig


The stout branches of chir pine


needle arrangement of Chir pine


If there were not steep ridgelines in the background, I would have thought I was in the southeastern US [ignoring the cool, dryish October air].

Next stop: Dochula.

by Neil
Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:55 am
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Re: The world's biggest and most vulnerable trees – in pictu

i agree, Chris - things are changing fast these days. large swaths of forests are succumbing to insect outbreaks, which seems to be driven by warmer winters. so, it is hard to get a handle on what is important sometimes. there is evidence that tree size might mediate longevity more than age: and and . the loss of big trees might not be the greatest loss of what is happening in our environment. i'm not saying it isn't important, but the loss of species and green space seems a bit more important.

but, the death of large trees is sensational and captures people's attention. a friend once pointed out that books with 'trees' in the title sell better than books with 'forest' in the title. people will protest the loss of a large tree in a city, but will not likely make sure efforts to suburban sprawl or poor forestry practices.

by Neil
Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:59 am
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Re: Bhutan

on to Chhukha!

Hi again. I am picking up my travels through Bhutan with a short stop in the Chhukha area. We were traveling from Thimphu to Gedu to begin a few days of field work in the cool temperate broadleaf forests of southern Bhutan - The travel took a long time - several hours. Google underestimates travel time. But, we hit a traffic jam at one pinch point. The road was being re-surfaced in a narrow area and was shut down for about two hours. Luckily, we arrived about 1 hour into the stoppage.


The main road on the opposite side of the valley from the pinch-point traffic jam. Do you see the tractor trailer?


Traffic jam!

We stopped for lunch north of Chhukha and soon after started noticing older looking forest with a rough canopy surface. It was time to get out of the car and see what was shaking in these Bhutanese forests!


Emergent trees and a rough canopy surface.

I needed to stay close my hosts for this portion of the trip. The combination of the diversity of the forest, similarity in leaves and bark, and my general unfamiliarity of the species made the forest look quite homogeneous at first. Differences between the leaves and bark were so subtle. After a few minutes and having some memories of Sichuan forests come back, I could start to pick out individual species. What was most impressive in this portion of the forest were the large Castanopsis . Most of what I saw were Castanopsis hystrix .


a large Castanopsis with Drs. Purna and Kinley for scale.

I became more fascinated by the Lithocarpus because their ring structure is more promising for tree ring purposes. So, during this short visit, I apparently mostly took pictures of these trees.


Castanopsis leaves


Castanopsis bark


looking up into a Castanopsis canopy

To leave this forest, we exited through the road worker's village. It gave us the first hand reality of the lives of people making the twisty and treacherous roads of Bhutan as it continues to develop.


exiting the road worker's village.

While there was an isolated village across the valley from this forest, the opposing side of the valley was pure, relatively untouched forest. My hosts repeatedly called it old-growth. I repeatedly wished I could simply fly over the valley to explore that forest. It looked to be in a rather unbroken state with all kinds of wildness. This thought was partially supported a few weeks ago when it was announced that a sighting of a giant panda was made in this area This wasn't the rarest animal whose track I might have crossed. But, that will have to wait for another post. For now, pictures of the unbroken forest with a village carved out of one pice of it.


'Unbroken' Valley Village


the forest above the Valley Village


close up of old-growth forest - gap dynamics!


The broad, complex, unbroken old-growth forest across the valley.
by Neil
Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:49 am
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Re: NPR-Radio Times -1 Million New Trees in Philadelphia by

Dear NTS,

NYC is running a similar initiative. They are around 1/2 a million trees:

A guest to our lab told us about it sometime last spring. She thought it would be one of Mayor Bloomberg's major legacies. You will only see his name towards the end of the major sponsors in small print. But our guest made it clear he quietly made this a personal project. Apparently he has been well schooled in the economic value of urban trees (and takes climate change seriously). One of these USFS programs drove the point home for Mayor Bloomberg.

It will be great when these cities become re-treed!.

by Neil
Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:50 am
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Re: Trees Tell the Story of 500 Years of NYC Drought History

hi Chris,

Good question. The science of reconstructing fire history in the eastern US is just beginning in earnest. By just beginning I mean over the last 20 years. Much of the work has been conducted in coniferous forests of the east, though there are some nice exceptions in the midwest. Many records are rather short in the most eastern portion of the eastern US [only about 120-180 yrs], a period that is dominated by burning by European settlers [they burned as much, if not more than first nation people/Indians]. I do not know this part of the literature as well as others, but some good places to look are here:

Google publications in Scholar Google for Richard Guyette and Michael Stambaugh of the Missouri Tree Ring Lab [here is a good intro vid of Mike ]. While they have made a massive collection across the eastern US, much of their earlier work is in the midwest - . Henri Grissino-Mayer of the University of Tennessee and Charles Lafon of Texas A&M are doing some nice work in the Southern Appalachians. Here are two recent publications: and . The Minnesota Tree Ring lab, Kurt Kipfmueller and Scott St. George, will start cranking out work from the Boundary Waters and points north: . A couple of nice papers have started to come out of the West Virginia Tree Ring lab led by Amy Hessl: . The three species paper is nice: . I am on a paper in preparation with Ryan McEwan looking at fire history since the late-1600s at Lilley Cornett Woods.

My favorite from the WVU group is a look at the causes of fire in the contemporary records collected by the state of West Virginia. From what I recall, it burns a bit more often and the fires are large when it is dry, despite the contemporary use of fire by locals: . So, extrapolating that record to long-term drought history would suggest it has burned more in the past due to a more favorable climate for fire (but, that is just speculation by me).

One of my favorite papers on fire in the east was conducted in Vermont red pine. They got a nice long record of fire: . It shows a slowing of fire in recent decades, as does fire records from the northern range limit of red pine in Canada and thereabouts. These records come from areas where humans have less of an impact on fire. Click on the "Cited by" link for this paper: . I've seen scattered papers showing wetting in the north. Given what we know about fire and trends in moisture in eastern North America, it might not be too surprising that fires have become less common.

I apologize if I left off other major pieces of contemporary work in the east. I imagine I did. Bud Heinselman did a nice piece in the early 1970s: and

by Neil
Mon May 14, 2012 7:10 am
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Re: A 969-year-old Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

hi All,

969 years is just so hard to believe when hundreds, if not at least 1000, hemlock have been cored across much of its range by several talented dendrochronologists prior to HWA outbreak and no one yet has broken 600 years. While this is a rather incomplete list - - it indicates how rare a 900 year old hemlock would be. It also indicates that Tionesta is still home to the old-documented hemlock.

Short heads up: a large-scale effort to retrieve hemlock core samples before they are lost from the landscape will begin sometime in early fall. I will give NTS a heads up before the launch in case folks want to participate. Who knows, maybe out of this loss an 800 year old hemlock will be documented?

by Neil
Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:37 am
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Trees as Envionmental Historians talk - Greenwich, CT

Dear NTS,

Apologies for the long absence. We have a 1-yr old sapling and, well, that takes some time out of one's day [good use of time, mind you].

For those near Greenwich, CT, I wanted to alert you to a talk I am giving at the Greenwich Historical Society on Thursday night that you might be interested in attending. Details are here and below: - it is being hosted by four groups: Greenwich Historical Society, the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, the Bruce Museum, and the Greenwich Reform Synagogue. Besides the theme in the title, another theme is the celebration of the Jewish New Year for Trees. Here is but one example - - I will give my best to make it a good time.



The Science of History: Tree Rings and the History They Reveal
Held at Greenwich Historical Society

Neil Pederson, PhD, Lamont Research Assistant Professor, Tree Ring Laboratory, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

In celebration of the Jewish New Year for Trees, Tu B’Shevat, Dr. Pederson will lecture on how ancient trees and timbers from human structures are used to broaden our understanding of history. From the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire to the construction of buildings and boats locally and globally, trees are the environmental historians, which reveal events long faded from human memory and historical documents; including how the tree ring cores taken from the Bush-Holley house reveal its construction history.

Sponsored by the Greenwich Historical Society, the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, the Bruce Museum, and the Greenwich Reform Synagogue.

Held at the Greenwich Historical Society
Vanderbilt Education Center, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob, CT

Doors open at 6:30 pm; lecture begins at 7:00 pm.
Admission is free but reservations are suggested. Please call 203-869-6899, ext. 10.

Rain/snow date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
by Neil
Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:15 pm
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Hemlock Legacy Project

Dear NTS of the eastern US and Canada,

There is a new opportunity for citizen science that is right up our alley: collecting and preserving hemlock samples before they are lost through the Hemlock Legacy Project - HeLP. There will be an article coming out soon in a mainstream source about it and there was this clip, too:

It will take some time to coordinate the project in its entirety. Most of the coordination will come out of Dr. Amy Hessl's lab at West Virginia University. - there might be a grad student and web page in the fall organizing the project a little more formally. I'll def keep you updated as things develop.

The original article is available below at the open access site of Columbia University. It has recently become CU's policy that its researchers make their publications available to the public - hear, hear! So, download HeLP here:

by Neil
Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:20 pm
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Re: Eastern OLDLIST

Dear NTS,

Apologies for little activity. Life has sped up recently. I am trying to slow it a bit so I can participate more here.

I write with good news:

First, I got to meet Russ Carlson in person at the North American Dendroecological Fieldweek at Black Rock Forest last week. I learned a lot about wood anatomy and other tree attributes from Russ. It was great.

Second, the advanced dendroclimatology and intro groups re-located and sampled the oldest-documented pitch pine [in the known universe]. Because of efforts by the advanced dendroclimatology group, we now know that this tree is currently 398 years old! Guess we'll have to have a 400 yr celebration in 2015. Here is a picture of that tree:


Finally, the intro group cross-dated the oldest documented white oak in Kentucky and the 7th oldest known white oak. Russ actually cross-dated this wonderful tree. It resides in Mammoth Cave National Park. We missed the oldest pith date for a white oak in KY by 3 years. This tree is a little hollow and likely predates 1650.

These ages are now posted on Eastern OLDLIST:

by Neil
Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:03 am
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Re: Tree Maximums - Genus of the Week: Hamamelis (Witchhazel

Dear NTS,

Cari Leland of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is completing a limited tree ring chronology of this species from Black Rock Forest in southern NY for a class project. So far, the oldest H. virginiana dated is 58 years old.

by Neil
Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:58 am
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Re: State Champion Tulip, KY's tallest

Dear NTS,

We have some data that can be added to this hypothesis. Dario Martin-Benito and I have a paper in review of the climate response of eight broadleaf species, including tulip, from Georgia through to northern Vermont; hopefully it passes peer review this time. The first conclusion might not be too surprising. The radial growth of all species are limited by moisture/drought. The next conclusion is very interesting. From roughly 40 lat north, the drought signal in these trees is driven more by precipitation while south of there, the drought signal is driven more by heat stress or, the direct correlate we used, maximum temperatures. The conclusions would be better if we had more of an even distribution of populations from Georgia to Vermont and some populations in Pennsylvania; that might create an artificial breakpoint. The results look pretty robust: heat stress and precipitation both contribute to the limitation of radial growth of these trees by moisture availability, but the driver changes moving north to south. In the north precipitation limits trees more while in the south it is higher temperatures. It seems to roughly fit your hypothesis.

by Neil
Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:50 am
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Re: Eastern OLDLIST

Hi All,

Long-time, no speak. Apologies NTS. I'm now at the Harvard Forest in MA and with a couple wee sprouts in my family. It has been a good, busy road.

I want to share some exciting news: the old cucumbertree at Cook Forest is provisionally crossdated. By that I mean we have measured up three radii of the sample shared with me. The patterns of ring widths along reach radii agree with each other. Then, combining those into one, I compared a chronology to the old-growth white oak from Cook Forest. There is indication of weak, but significant correlations back to about 1708. Looks like we have it dated correctly. From there, the inner ring dates are less certain. Let's provisionally say the inner dates are correct at this time. The innermost ring that we were able to measure is 1558 , making it a 447 year old tree! And, recall that this sample is from about 20 feet, or about 6 m up the tree. It adds nearly a century to the maximum known age for the species. Not too shabby.

Here is the first post about this sample: .

Thank you to Ed and Dale for sharing this sample with me. Quite a discovery.

by Neil
Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:02 pm
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Re: Howland's Island

nice post, Elijah!

here are some pictures of some northern red oak from near Appleton, NY that are similar to the one you posted. they were some very large in the remnant forest and we didn't get the center of the largest trees. however, these individuals were growing rather rapidly and i would be surprised if the Appleton northern red oak were much over 200 years of age. i've cored other red oak of decent size (a picture inserted below) near Fulton, NY that were not much over 150-170 years of age. i think trees in the Lake Ontario plain growing on decent sites, not too dry, not too wet, likely grow rather rapidly in the cool, lake effect environment.



a big and fast-growing northern red oak


a large northern red oak <170 years old at Curtiss-Gale Wildlife Management Area, Fulton, NY
by Neil
Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:29 pm
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