Howland's Island

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ElijahW
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by ElijahW » Sat Jan 09, 2016 11:51 pm

NTS,

In my continuing survey effort on Howland's Island, I explored some new territory today along its eastern edge, between one of the main trails and the Seneca River. The ground surface is a fairly gentle slope to the water's edge, and at many points, I could see both the river and the trail. Even with such a minor elevation change, species composition varies from high ground to the river shore: White ash is plentiful on the uphill side of the trail, green ash is found in the middle ground, and black ash grows close to the water; American beech and Sugar maple are found in limited numbers in the intermediate zone, along with American basswood and Northern red oak, while White oak and Cucumber magnolia stay high and dry. The under- and mid-story species include American hornbeam, Hophornbeam, Spicebush, European buckthorn, and Hawthorn, with plenty of Raspberry bushes. Bitternut hickory, like elsewhere on the Island, is not growing in standing water, but seems to have no other hangups on suitable sites, and is found pretty much everywhere.

Here are my measurements from today, along with some photos and a couple of ID requests:

Crack willow

89.5' x 16'8" (Single stem, many small burls)

Pignut hickory

122.7' x 6'8"

Shagbark hickory

121.2' x 3'9"
118.3' x 5'8"

Bitternut hickory

127.2' x 5'8"
122.6' x 6'11"

American sycamore

127.3' x 11'5"

White oak

100.6' x 5'9"

American hornbeam

32.7' x 10"

Swamp white oak

101.5' x 9'5"

Hawthorn spp.

38.2' x 2'0"

American basswood

105.1' x 17'1" (likely at least two stems joined, large hollow)
105.1' x 11'11"

Sugar maple

114.3' x 8'3"

Freeman maple

115.0' x 5'0"

Cucumber magnolia

106.4' x 5'2"

American beech

101.5' x 5'3"

Common apple

43.2' x 4'11" (girth measured at about 4' due to low forking limb)

Unknown species

75.5' x 4'7"
Unknown species with notepad for scale
Unknown species with notepad for scale
DSC00678.JPG
DSC00680.JPG
DSC00681.JPG
DSC00682.JPG
Leaves at base of unknown tree
Leaves at base of unknown tree
DSC00685.JPG
Bitternut hickory limbs growing up from down tree
Bitternut hickory limbs growing up from down tree
Swamp white oak
Swamp white oak
Swamp white oak
Swamp white oak
Swamp white oak
Swamp white oak
Unknown hawthorn species
Unknown hawthorn species
Unknown hawthorn species
Unknown hawthorn species
Large hollow basswood
Large hollow basswood
DSC00696.JPG
If we have more mild weather, I plan to continue my wanderings around the Island's perimeter, in search of more giants. I have yet to get to the large Silver maples, and I'm sure a bigger, and perhaps taller, Swamp white oak is in the wings.

Current Rucker 10 Index:

122.6'

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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dbhguru
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by dbhguru » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:06 am

Elijah,

I continue to be impressed by the wealth of tall trees in central and western New York. On occasion I like to compute a state-wide RHI that includes native and non-native species, provided that the latter can be seen in the countryside. I realize that as an isolated number, a state-wide Rucker has limited ecological significance except to reflect the impact of the warmer versus colder climates. However, if state-wide RHIs were computed for the top 20 species, I think we'd see some interesting trends and patterns. If the challenge is to capture what each species is capable of achieving height or girth wise for the geographical area covered, then historical maximums should probably be used, i.e. NTS historical maximums, not outside figures.

Here is what Massachusetts achieves in the way of a historical and current RHI.
Screen shot 2016-01-10 at 9.58.01 AM.png
As with most tall tree lists, to be really valuable, there needs to be sufficient interpretation so we can distinguish statistical outliers from realistic maximums. That is why I included the next tallest member of each species. I could have gone farther in portraying what Massachusetts grows. For example, there are 16 standing white pines of 160 feet and around 170 that reach 150 feet. We're not going to run out of tall white pines. The white ash are in trouble and height characterizations of their reasonable maximums will be around 130 feet. Lots of species heights are coming down. One that seems to continue upward is Norway spruce. That's okay by me.

Are you and other members of the NY A-team at a place where you might develop a similar table to the one above?

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

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:09 am

I admire how solidly comprehensive your survey of Howland's Island is becoming. Have you thought about starting to incorporate your data into any sort of map? With enough data points you might be able to start looking at correlations in species composition and height with geological and historical factors.

Is the mystery tree pictured the same as the previously mentioned one with thorny twigs?

I'd also definitely be on board to work together to compile a NYS RHI20. I suspect you've got a majority of the current maximums (especially with that recent Zoar session!), but I'm putting together a spreadsheet of the maximums from my measurements to check. I might have NYS maximums for white oak and sweetgum.

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ElijahW
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:01 pm

Bob,

I'm not sure about historical heights, but I currently have a list of 91 native and non-native Sine-measured species. Runner-ups for each species would take a while to come up with, but that's also possible. Here's NY's top-20 height list, as far as I know:
NY Top20.PNG
The current Rucker 10 height index for NY is 144.2'

Erik,

I can use all the help you can give. Tom and I are astounded at what you've found so far in NYC, and we're excited to see what you have yet to find.

Elijah
Last edited by ElijahW on Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"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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ElijahW
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:13 pm

NTS,

Some more measurements from today:

Following the Seneca River upstream from the Port Byron entrance

Green ash 113.1' x 5'10"
Common hackberry 86.5' x 5'2"
Swamp white oak 99.4' x 9'8"
Hickory spp. 105.7' x 4'5" (either Shagbark or Shellbark, will post pictures later)

South Island Red Oak Grove

White oak 107.0' (Double-trunked, previously 102')
Pignut hickory 116.7' x 5'0"

Hickory Hill (South Island)

Hophornbeam 73.7' x 2'9"
White oak 89.7' x 9'7"
88.8' x 10'3"
Shagbark hickory 121.4' x 6'7"
Slippery (Red) elm 106.9' x 5'7"
Northern red oak 118.4' x 7'10"

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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Jess Riddle
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by Jess Riddle » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:36 pm

Elijah,

You're pulling more out of Howland Island than I ever thought we'd see. Nice work!

I'm not sure about the unknown tree. Maybe pear?

Jess

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ElijahW
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:18 pm

Jess,

Pear is one of the options I'm seeing. The main problem is that any fruit is long gone. ID should be easy once the leaves come out. The north and south ends of the Island were pretty clearly interesting tree sites, but the east side has been a revelation. Three hickory species (bitternut, shagbark, and pignut) top 120' pretty much within sight of each other. Yesterday, I came across a recently cut pignut and counted about 110 growth rings about 5' above the base. Accounting for the height of the stump and about 2" of unreadable cross-section, this tree should be about 135 years old. While I'm hesitant to say 135 is the average age of that particular section of forest, it may well be. This section appears to be even-aged, and no trees have signs of advanced age, such as significant balding or stag-headed crowns. I do believe I've covered the areas with the tallest trees, but I expect to find more exceptionally large individuals as I move around the west side of the Island, especially silver maple and swamp white and red oak.

Erik, the picture of the mystery tree is the same species I was wondering about before, though it's a different tree.

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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djluthringer
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by djluthringer » Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:51 am

Elijah,

I'm intrigued by some of your "little-big" trees on Howland's Island, in particular your

2ft CBH x 38.2ft high hawthorne
2.8ft CBH x 73.7ft high E. hophornbeam

In PA, finding any hawthorne in the upper 30ft class is hard to do. Once Ed & I start finding upper 30ft hawthorne, we start looking for the 40footers, which are very rare. The highest one we've found to date stands at 3.1ft CBH x 45.4ft high at the Buckaloons Recreation Area (near the confluence of Brokenstraw Creek and the Allegheny River.

Also, any hophornbeam in the 70ft class is very special. The best we've done in PA is 1.8ft CBH x 78.8ft tall in a game lands in the NW corner of the state. To my knowledge, I don't believe Nts have cracked the 80ft bar yet for hophornbeam. But, if you've got 70footers, there is a chance for an 80footer.

Great job!

Dale

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ElijahW
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by ElijahW » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:29 pm

Thanks, Dale. I remember reading about Ed's struggle with American Forests over a hawthorn nomination, but I didn't recall how tall the tree was. I wasn't aware 40' was significant, and this particular tree is the only one I've measured; taller ones should be common in a few disturbed areas. I should be able to find several more hophornbeams over 70', but 80' may be a stretch. Howlands Island has several abandoned fruit orchards, and that's where I'm seeing a lot of hawthorn, buckthorn, and mystery trees, which may indeed be pear. I'll measure some more Apple trees at some point, which shouldn't have a problem getting over 50'.

BTW, Dale, do you know if the 130' black cherry is still standing at Long Point? I plan to get over there sometime this year. Thanks,

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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djluthringer
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Re: Howland's Island

Post by djluthringer » Wed Jan 13, 2016 7:36 am

Elijah,

I would assume the tall black cherry at Long Point is still standing, haven't been in there in years to check on it though.

It's located on the flat stretch of woods as you come in on the left side of the main entrance road at:

42 10.618N x 79 24.589W

I last measured it on 5/3/06 to 6.9ft CBH x 130.1ft tall.

There's several nice hardwoods in there. Other trees to possibly re-measure would be:

bitternut hickory 7.3ft CBH x 126.1ft high at 42 10.527N x 79 24.626W
white ash 4.9ft CBH x 130.8ft high at 42 10.441N x 79 24.586W
white ash 8.4ft CBH x 125.7ft high at 42 10.438N x 79 24.597W
cottonwood 17.9ft CBH x 125.4ft high at 42 10.348N x 79 24.703W -down over the hill close to the lake
cottonwood 20.3ft CBH x 118ft high at 42 10.357N x 79 24.695W -beside above

All trees listed here I haven't been able to re-measure since May of 2006.

Happy Hunting!

Dale

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