Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

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#1)  Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby tomhoward » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:39 pm

NTS,

On this sunny warm Sunday afternoon, Elijah Whitcomb and I explored Long Branch Park past the north end of Onondaga Lake; this park is a northern extension of Onondaga Lake Park. We previously (Aug. 18, 2013, May 14, 2013) measured large old Oaks and taller younger Tuliptrees in the main open area of the park. In Aug. 2014 Elijah explored some of the wooded areas in the back of Long Branch and found some very tall trees there. On Sept. 7 Elijah and I examined these wooded areas. This is a very beautiful old hardwood forest dominated by tall Red Oak and Tuliptree; the oldest of these trees seem to be about 150-180 or even more years old, and old growth characteristics are developing, with some pit and mound topography, lots of coarse woody debris, several snags, tall trees with ragged crowns, balding bark, sinuous trunks. This is the tallest forest we’ve seen in northern Onondaga County, taller even than the much older old growth Liverpool School Maple Grove. We could not get any age data from this Long Branch forest, but the signs of trees over 150 years old are abundant. I think that this is a secondary old growth stand, with the original forest that was there possibly cut about 200 years ago. The Long Branch forest was locally famous over 100 years ago, and was the site of one of the largest amusement parks near Onondaga Lake. The park was named for the “long branches” of the large Chestnut trees; a tornado on Sept. 15, 1912, destroyed much of the park and many of the trees, as well as killing 2 people, and destroying a trolley station. The tornado does not seem to have affected the dense forest Elijah and I explored. The forest type was originally Oak-Chestnut-Tuliptree, and many of the Oaks in the open area of the park are survivors of the 1912 tornado. Thanks to the Chestnut Blight, all the big Chestnuts are gone, but Elijah measured a 59.5 ft. Chestnut deep in the woods in Aug. 2012; this is the tallest Chestnut we know of in central NY, and it still looks healthy.

Trees seen in the Long Branch forest:

Dominant – Red Oak, Tuliptree

Associate – Black Cherry, Basswood, Red Maple, Sugar Maple (small), Norway Maple (small), Beech (small), Witch Hazel, Bitternut Hickory, at least one other Hickory (more below – we thought at first that it was Mockernut Hickory, but it is almost certainly Pignut Hickory). There were no conifers in this section. The Red Oak, Tuliptree, Black Cherry, Hickory are among the tallest in central NY, impressively close together rising high into the bright sky.

We entered the first of 2 tall areas by going off trail near an impressive 5-trunked Basswood that in Aug. Elijah measured to over 100 ft. tall. This section contains the tallest Oak so far known in central NY. Elijah told me of this tree, a Red Oak that he measured to 125 ft. tall with a straight up shot of his laser rangefinder. This is 8 ft. taller than the previous record holding Oak, the 117.1 ft. Baum Red Oak in the Wizard of Oz Oak Grove in North Syracuse. It was really extraordinary to see this tall, sky piercing rather young, rather slender Red Oak, in the midst of other trees of similar height, including more large Red Oaks. This is my measurement of the tall Red Oak, the tallest Oak in central NY:      
Height         124.8 ft.

Black Cherry, rather slender, with dead branches in crown, near tallest Red Oak:      
Height         119.3 ft. – taller than any of the old growth Black Cherries measured in Lily Dale Aug. 18  

Big double Red Oak, same area, very near 125 ft. Red Oak:      
Height         116.9 ft.

In the same area, from where I measured the tallest Red Oak, we saw a tree that rose up like a compact tower with big compound leaves. This is the Mystery Hickory mentioned earlier in this report. These are the Hickory’s measurements. The tree is 6 ft. 1 in. cbh and:
Height         117 ft.

This tree stands right by the trail. This Hickory has short-stalked leaves with 5 big leaflets, and a few small nuts on the ground. The bark is rough, and has a wavy pattern that made me think it could be Mockernut Hickory; bark also is balding, with white flecks and some red tints. Further research after I got home indicated that this could not be a Mockernut, as Mockernut has more leaflets. This is almost certainly a Pignut Hickory, as Pignut is the only Hickory in this area with 5 leaflets. At 117 ft. tall, this is the tallest accurately measured Pignut Hickory that I know of in upstate NY (the NY record is 129 ft. at the FDR Estate in Hyde Park downstate measured in 2004).

In the same area, I got a straight up shot of 119+ ft. on a Tuliptree, near a smaller Hickory, that I think is another Pignut. We would find several more Hickories of this species.  

The next area we went to was the part of the forest containing the 59.5 ft. Chestnut. These trees are on a low ridge, with the biggest tree a 10 ft. 8 in. cbh Tuliptree that is the tallest tree measured in northern Onondaga County; Elijah got a height of over 129 ft. with a straight up shot in Aug. This may be the tallest tree in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence lowland.

In the same area I measured a smaller (6 ft. 5 in. cbh) Tuliptree with a tall sinuous trunk (curving 4 times before reaching the canopy) and balding bark:      
Height         123.5 ft.

Near this tree we saw the 59.5 ft. Chestnut.

Near an old bench we saw a fairly tall (possibly not much over 100 ft.) Basswood and behind the Basswood the following Tuliptree:
Height         121.2 ft.+ - top possibly not seen

In a small ravine nearby, Elijah found a White Oak snag, and 2 other snags that look like White Oak – we did not see any living White Oaks in this part of the forest.

We took a trail back to the main open area of Long Branch Park, saw a tall (30 ft.+) Staghorn Sumach at the edge of a 2nd growth Oak forest.

We next measured the biggest tree at Long Branch, a huge open-grown Cottonwood (measured previously at 71” dbh) that stands by itself in a lower part of the park. We may have gotten the highest part of this tree’s vast crown:
Height         114.42 ft.

We left Long Branch and next went to the Boat Launch Pine Grove at Selkirk Shores State Park in Oswego County, which is the subject of the next report.


Tom Howard

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#2)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby Erik Danielsen » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:42 am

Finding a chestnut that tall must have been exciting. I was introduced to a little chestnut that might top 30 feet in a woodlot where I was working recently and they really are a thrill to see.
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#3)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby ElijahW » Sun Sep 14, 2014 6:57 pm

Ents,

Tom's written another excellent report - thank you, Tom.  Although I understand the importance of height maximums for certain areas, like the now tallest oak in CNY, I get more excited about finding rare-for-an-area, healthy trees, like the American chestnut.  I didn't get any pictures of it, but will at some point.  The tree appears to be quite young and healthy, and hopefully will gain lots more height before it shows any signs of the blight.  There was no evidence of other individual chestnut trees, and I didn't see any sign of nuts.  The chestnut, as Tom wrote, is 59.5' tall and has a CBH of 20."

The photos below are of the hickory in question.  Both shagbark and bitternut hickory are present nearby at Long Branch, but this hickory seems to have different characteristics, especially in the leaves and bark.

               
                       
DSC00288.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
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DSC00293.JPG
                                       
               


The last photo, of the nut, is what trips me up.  This nut, among lots of others, were at the base of this tree.  From my experience, the nut, and perhaps the bark, say "bitternut," but the leaves and the bark say "pignut."  To the hickory experts out there:  What say you?

To add to Tom's measurements, here are a few more:

American Basswood:  112.5'; multi-trunked, so no CBH taken.
Swamp white oak:     90.5', CBH 9'1"
White oak:                95.5', CBH 11'10"
Jack pine (planted):   49.5'

The under- and mid-story consisted of witch hazel, maple leaf viburnum, poison ivy, and alternate-leaf dogwood.  I don't remember seeing this much witch hazel anywhere I've been before.  

Going forward, Long Branch should have plenty of tall trees, as, in addition to the 129' individual, several more tuliptrees are in the 125-130' range and not terribly aged.

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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#4)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby ElijahW » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:23 pm

NTS,

Below are the promised additional photos of Long Branch Park.  Enjoy.

               
                       
DSC00294.JPG
                       
Planted Jack pine mixed with some Scots pine
               
               

               
                       
DSC00295.JPG
                                       
               

               
                       
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DSC002991.jpg
                       
White oaks on the lawn
               
               

               
                       
DSC003001.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
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DSC003031.jpg
                       
90.4', 9'1" CBH Swamp white oak
               
               

               
                       
DSC003041.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC003071.jpg
                       
Some Long Branch Tuliptrees
               
               

               
                       
DSC003141.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
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125', 7'7" Northern red oak
               
               

               
                       
DSC003221.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC003201.jpg
                       
119.3', 7'1" Black cherry
               
               

               
                       
DSC003211.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
DSC003101.jpg
                       
Lots of witch hazel
               
               

               
                       
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DSC003241.jpg
                       
Dogwood (alternate leaf?)
               
               


Chestnut photos in next post.

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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#5)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby ElijahW » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:38 pm

NTS,

Here's the rest of the Long Branch pictures with a special guest at the end.

               
                       
DSC003491.jpg
                       
114.4' Cottonwood on the lawn
               
               

               
                       
DSC003411.jpg
                       
Maple leaf viburnum
               
               

               
                       
DSC003451.jpg
                       
Staghorn sumac
               
               

               
                       
DSC003361.jpg
                       
What forest does when left alone
               
               

               
                       
DSC003381.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
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What I was most excited to see
               
               

               
                       
DSC003331.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
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DSC003481.jpg
                       
Taking shelter from the rain
               
               


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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#6)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby Lucas » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:17 am

What I was most excited to see


Chestnut, I assume?

The leaf looks chinese.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#7)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby Erik Danielsen » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:49 am

Those leaves look like american to me. I see chinese, dunstan, and american often enough and it seems pretty distinct to me, and matches up with my pressed specimens.
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#8)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby tomhoward » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:37 pm

Elijah,

The pictures of Long Branch are really great. Thanks for posting them.

Tom Howard
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#9)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby greenent22 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:09 am

impressive stuff, great trees
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#10)  Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Postby ElijahW » Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:31 am

NTS,

The following list is an update on tree dimensions at Long Branch.  My last visit was Thanksgiving morning, 11/26.  

Species                     Height

Tuliptree                   130.9'
Northern red oak       125.4'
Black cherry              121.2'
Pignut hickory           120.2'
Eastern cottonwood   114.4'
Eastern white pine     112.6'
American basswood    112.5'
White oak                  110.9'
Shagbark hickory        110.6'
Bitternut hickory        109.1'
Freeman maple          104.6'
Norway spruce           101.0'
Green ash                  97.8'
American beech         97.1'
Sugar maple               93.9'
Swamp white oak       90.5'
Red maple                  84.9'
Norway maple            71.7'
American chestnut     62.5'
Blue spruce                61.7'
Jack pine                   49.5'
Northern catalpa        37.2'

The tallest pignut was previously unmeasured; two others are just 2-3 feet shorter.  Two other tulips stand at 128' and 129', respectively.  The above swamp white oak replaces the larger tree which fell this summer.  The Rucker 10 height index now stands at 116.7'.

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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