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Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:39 pm
by tomhoward
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

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:42 am
by Erik Danielsen
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.

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:57 pm
by ElijahW
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.
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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

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:23 pm
by ElijahW
NTS,

Below are the promised additional photos of Long Branch Park. Enjoy.
Planted Jack pine mixed with some Scots pine
Planted Jack pine mixed with some Scots pine
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White oaks on the lawn
White oaks on the lawn
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90.4', 9'1" CBH Swamp white oak
90.4', 9'1" CBH Swamp white oak
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Some Long Branch Tuliptrees
Some Long Branch Tuliptrees
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125', 7'7" Northern red oak
125', 7'7" Northern red oak
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119.3', 7'1" Black cherry
119.3', 7'1" Black cherry
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Lots of witch hazel
Lots of witch hazel
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Dogwood (alternate leaf?)
Dogwood (alternate leaf?)
Chestnut photos in next post.

Elijah

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:38 pm
by ElijahW
NTS,

Here's the rest of the Long Branch pictures with a special guest at the end.
114.4' Cottonwood on the lawn
114.4' Cottonwood on the lawn
Maple leaf viburnum
Maple leaf viburnum
Staghorn sumac
Staghorn sumac
What forest does when left alone
What forest does when left alone
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What I was most excited to see
What I was most excited to see
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DSC003341.jpg
Taking shelter from the rain
Taking shelter from the rain
Elijah

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:17 am
by Lucas
What I was most excited to see
Chestnut, I assume?

The leaf looks chinese.

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:49 am
by Erik Danielsen
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.

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:37 pm
by tomhoward
Elijah,

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

Tom Howard

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:09 am
by greenent22
impressive stuff, great trees

Re: Long Branch Park, Geddes Sept. 7, 2014

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 10:31 am
by ElijahW
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