North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove 11/25/2011

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
tomhoward
Posts: 316
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 5:15 pm

North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove 11/25/2011

Post by tomhoward » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:15 am

NTS,

On beautiful sunny Nov. 25, 2011, I visited this favorite old growth site. It has been the most special place to me since I was 5 years old, and, after seeing many old growth sites in the East, it still has a greater density of large old trees than any other that I have seen.

The oaks were bare, and their incredibly gnarled limbs were easily visible. White Oak #23 is especially gnarly, the gnarliest of all the White Oaks. Above the core section of the grove around White Oak #22 the warm blue sky was filled with a mass of crooked timber, the most awesome expression of old growth I know of in this area. The “Old Growth Air” was especially wonderful on this day, fragrant with freshly fallen oak leaves and the spring Earth; breezes made soft rustling sounds among the trees. There was no water in the “Swale” or ancient vernal pool in the center of the grove.

I measured a small looking but still very gnarled White Oak with balding bark east of the core group to 19.6” dbh. This tree has been added to the group of Big Oaks as it just under 20” dbh; last year, when I had a laser rangefinder, I measured the tree as 90 ft. tall, much lower than the 100-110 ft. heights of the old White Oaks of the core group.

Most of these White Oaks, and especially the core group of Trees # 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 have the characteristics of aged oaks with spiral grain, extremely gnarled and twisted large limbs, balding bark. Each one of these trees has its own individual gnarly character. White Oaks #33, 37, 38 in the NW part of the grove also have these aging characteristics.

I measured dbh of the following additional trees:

Red Maple #8 32.3
Red Oak 17.8 Black Gum coming out of base, SW of White Oak #33
Black Gum 13.6 young, east of White Oak #37
Red Oak 16.4 young, east of White Oak #33

A Red Oak NW of Red Maple #8 is easily over 20” dbh, but I did not measure it as it is covered with Poison Ivy – it has been added to the group of Big Oaks.

At the northern end of the old growth, north of White Oaks #31 and #32, is a large double-trunked Red Oak – this tree is a coppice growth with 2 trunks that seem to be stump sprouts from about 1900 or earlier; since these trunks are over 20” diameter, this tree has been added to the group of Big Oaks.

There are 2 cohorts of oaks in the North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove. The oldest one is the old growth core of the grove, with oaks from 170 – possibly over 250 years old. Most of these trees are White Oaks, and this cohort includes all the White Oaks identified as “Big Oaks” (with the possible exception of the 19.6” dbh White Oak east of White Oaks #23 and 25). This cohort also includes Red Oak #13, Black Oak #27, and possibly Red Oak #26.

The second cohort surrounds the old growth core, and consists of Red Oaks estimated to be 90-120 years old; the largest tree in this group is Red Oak #17 (31.8” dbh, 105 ft. tall). These Red Oaks do not have the gnarled characteristics of old growth trees and have younger looking bark. All the Red Oaks designated as “Big Oaks” (except Red Oaks #13, #26) are part of this cohort.

There is a double-trunked White Pine sapling north of Red Oak #9, a smaller White Pine sapling NE of White Oak #10, and a White Pine seedling north of White Oak #33.

In the 2nd growth forest north of the grove are 3 large Red Oaks that are younger (possibly less than 120 years old) with more open grown form. They are listed as Red Oaks #39, 40, and 44 in the 1999 brochure. Since they are so close to the old growth grove, they have been added to the group of Big Oaks. I measured the largest one, Red Oak #40, at 39.7” dbh, the largest Red Oak in the grove area. Just north of this tree is the Onondaga County champion Sassafras (Sassafras #41) which I measured at 21.9” dbh. This forest-grown Sassafras is 86 ft. tall.

Number of Big Oaks in North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove as of 11/25/2011:
(“Big Oak” defined as estimated (oaks that are 19.5” dbh + round up to 20”) 20”+ dbh or 100+ ft. tall)
White Oak 17
Red Oak 21
Black Oak 1
That is a lot in such a small area.

Here are 2 pictures of the grove - these pictures were taken in 1997-98, but the trees look the same today.
This photo shows the most concentrated area of old growth trees southeast of the swale. The "gnarl factor" is apparent.
This photo shows the most concentrated area of old growth trees southeast of the swale. The "gnarl factor" is apparent.
This picture shows White Oak #22 (21" dbh, 106 ft. tall) and to the right White Oak #16 (31.1" dbh, 107 ft. tall - #16 has 2 ascending stems that split about 15 ft. above the base of the tree.
This picture shows White Oak #22 (21" dbh, 106 ft. tall) and to the right White Oak #16 (31.1" dbh, 107 ft. tall - #16 has 2 ascending stems that split about 15 ft. above the base of the tree.

Tom Howard

User avatar
edfrank
Posts: 4217
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove 10/30/2011

Post by edfrank » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:28 pm

Tom,

Excellent post as always. I ma glad to see some photos included as well!

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

User avatar
ElijahW
Posts: 848
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Re: North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove 11/25/2011

Post by ElijahW » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:41 pm

Tom,

Is this grove right behind the cemetery on South Bay Rd or somewhere close by? I've been in that area before and couldn't find it. Do you go down one of the side streets to get there? I did find a nice American chestnut growing in the middle of the cemetery, though. Lots of nuts. Also, have you been to the cemetery next to SUNY ESF? That place has some super oaks, as well as some impressive hickories, including pignut.

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

User avatar
tomhoward
Posts: 316
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 5:15 pm

Re: North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove 11/25/2011

Post by tomhoward » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:51 am

Elijah,

The grove is right behind the cemetery on South Bay Rd. It is most easily seen at this time of year when the leaves are down. it is the group of tall oaks right behind the cemetery. They probably don't look that big or old from the cemetery proper, and the area just outside the grove is a cut over area. The easiest access is from the north side, on a trail that threads between 2 large White Pines right behind the houses on Wells Ave. E. The trail goes to the houses, but if you go to the right off trail, you will soon enter the grove. It is surprisingly impressive and pristine when you're inside it. Some of these big old gnarled oaks are only 6-15 feet apart! I'll be happy to show you the grove, so please let me know when you can come out here.

I'm very familiar with the chestnut in the cemetery and its load of nuts; unfortunately, it looks like the blight is starting to hit it.

I have indeed been to the cemetery behind SUNY ESF. It is called Oakwood Cemetery, and is a garden cemetery established in 1859 in what used to be an old growth oak forest. Some of the original large oaks are still there, and the oldest could be close to 300 years old. In the North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove the oldest White Oaks are estimated to be possibly 250-300 years old.

Tom

Post Reply

Return to “New York”