Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:12 pm

Bob, I was actually surprised that all the black birch I saw was rather scraggly and unenthused-looking. I'm hoping some nicer specimens will turn up. I do think the tulip numbers will reach higher yet.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:10 pm

As it turns out, italian families of the atlantic coast tend to have their primary christmas celebration on christmas eve with a seafood feast, so I had an unseasonably warm christmas day free of any plans. I've been itching to get back to Inwood, so I went. It seemed appropriate, really- the lone standing specimen of my favorite species (eastern hemlock) played my own personal christmas tree.
The lonely Hemlock.
The lonely Hemlock.
It was quite an exciting trip! Exploring the high ridgelines I met some substantial oaks, the last hemlock, the big cottonwoods, plenty of tall black locust and many hickories. Aside from shagbark, I am relatively lost when it comes to hickories. I am inclined to think that these are most likely bitternut (not unlike the bitternut-tulip association Elijah and Tom have documented at Green Lakes) or maybe mockernut as the bark seems a bit "tighter" than the images that turn up for pignut bark, but I am definitely seeking some appraisal from the images I took. The hickories are more abundant than I initially realized down in the "bowl" of the park where the tall tulips grow, and do quite well there also. There are also some nice Ulmus specimens that I am inclined to think are red elm rather than american, but could use some insight on these as well.
{Corrections: the elms are American, and the hickory most likely Pignut. Thanks Jess and Brian}
Hickory foliage
Hickory foliage
Bark on the tallest hickory specimen measured
Bark on the tallest hickory specimen measured
Ulmus in the foreground, very butressy. The 113' hickory is the tree immediately behind it with a blue blaze.
Ulmus in the foreground, very butressy. The 113' hickory is the tree immediately behind it with a blue blaze.
Ulmus bark
Ulmus bark
Ulmus leaf
Ulmus leaf
The numbers keep going up; I even found a taller point on the big ginko. Three tulips now exceed 150, and the height gradient seems almost absurdly precise as one moves down the slope into the bottom of the "bowl" where the tallest tulips are located, as though the canopy height is even all across and the ground level is the primary variable. There is a single section of forest in the bowl, a triangular area delineated by three sections of trail that form its borders, that contains the tallest tulips, red oak, white oak, black birch, and probably hickory- though the tallest hickory I measured so far is a skinny little rocket of growth on the side of a ravine just before the "bowl" empties out into the manicured field. The tall black birch, the only well-formed specimen I've found, grows in the shadow of a gorgeous old tulip with a hollowed base.
The nice black birch, with a wonderful hollow tulip beside it.
The nice black birch, with a wonderful hollow tulip beside it.
I was also fortunate to have a chance encounter with a woman who was hiking with her family and stopped to ask me about what I was measuring. As it turns out, she's an NYU professor currently involved in another type of tree research- studying the relationship between leaf volume in urban environments, ultrafine particulate air pollution, and human health impacts, as a brief overview- the work she's doing is really quite involved (and also related to my dayjob with the compost project, indirectly) with many other components so I'm looking forward to following up with her to learn more about the work that she's doing. She was kind enough to pose as a scale model in front of the largest cottonwood while emailing me her contact info.
The largest cottonwood, with a fellow tree researcher graciously posing for scale while sending me her contact info.
The largest cottonwood, with a fellow tree researcher graciously posing for scale while sending me her contact info.
Anyway, the numbers (from both visits now)-

Black Birch
104.7/5.3'cbh
79.6
Carya sp.
122.1/5.1'cbh
119
113/measured cbh and somehow forgot to write it down, ~10'. Very nice mature specimen.
112.4/8.3'cbh
106.9
American Beech
91.8/11.7'cbh very imposing standing snag, no large beech observed alive so far
Ginko
118.7/15.3'cbh does anyone know of a taller ginko? Good spread too, wondering if this might be a national champ candidate
Tuliptree
151.2/11.2'cbh grows immediately next to following tree
149.4/12.6'cbh
150.7/8.9'cbh broken bole with two resulting leaders, one dead, the other reaching high into a gap between the canopies of the older tulips
150.8
147.5
147.4/16.4'cbh new top on previously measured thickest tulip
147.4
145.5/13.8'cbh hollow at base
145.5/12.7'cbh
145.1
144.9
143.7
143.4
141.2
140.1
138.4/11.5
134 park entrance
Eastern Cottonwood
109/17.7'cbh
101.6/13.5'cbh
White Oak
123.2/8.4'cbh
115.8/8.4'cbh
114.6/10.7'cbh singlestem but split about 10' up into stems of nearly equal size
106.5'/8.5'cbh
101.7/11'cbh ridgetop
Chestnut Oak (did not measure any new this occasion)
102.3
101.8/9.9'cbh
101.7/8.9'cbh
Northern Red Oak
131.6/9.3'cbh
125.1/10.2'cbh
125.1 thin young tree
122.8/9.9'cbh
122.5
110.8/9.6'cbh ridgetop
110.7
107.8/10.9'cbh rather old-looking
92.1/15.3'cbh ridgetop, many burls
Black Oak ridgetop only
103.1/9.3'cbh
94.7/12'cbh
Black Locust ridgetop only
102.9
95.5
Eastern Hemlock
82.9/9.9'cbh ridgetop (perhaps exposure favored its survival over the adelgid, compared to the hemlocks that used to be present in the ravine?)
Ulmus sp.
99.5/5.8'cbh
Last edited by Erik Danielsen on Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dbhguru
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by dbhguru » Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:02 pm

Dang Erik,

You are documented some serious stuff. No joke. You certainly got my attention with that 104.7-ft BB. It goes into the database, and the 150-foot tulip count continues to rise. Congratulations! There was the Big Apple before storming Erik, and then the Big Apple afterward. Two different places.

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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Jess Riddle
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by Jess Riddle » Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:37 pm

Erik,

Inwood Hill Park is the one forested area I've always heard about in NYC, so it's great to see some numbers on what's hiding behind the skyscrapers. Certainly some impressive trees.

The buttressed elm looks pretty clearly like American. The other one I'm less confidient about, but would still lean towards American. The top of the leaf should be smooth or slightly rough for American while even fallen leaves of slipper should be rough like sandpaper on the upper surface. If you brake a chunk of bark, and the "grain" is striped like an Oreo, it's American. Slippery elm bark is a medium brown, like creamed coffee, all the way through.

For hickories, bark is important, and I agree the bark looks close to bitternut. The number of leaflets and hairiness of the are also important characters, but here we can rule out bitternut. Bitternut typically has nine leaflets and would have fine only one seedlings or other unusual conditions. The leaf also looks hairless, which rules out mockernut. The number of leaflets and their shape also does not fit mockernut. The tight bark, hairless leaves, and five leaflets all fit pignut. Fruits would seal it.

Jess

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:06 pm

Thanks for the input. The elm leaves were definitely smooth. Both images were of the same specimen (bark was pretty variable on individual trunks). I will check the bark, but I'll presume American from here.

The hickory leaves were definitely hairless, and there were some 7-leaflet leaves on the ground but definitely none with 9, and mostly 5. Thanks again for the help, tree identification is definitely a subject where informed input is far more reliable than my own instincts! I'll keep an eye out for fruits when I next visit, though there are hardly even any acorns on the ground at Inwood. The squirrel population must be unusually diligent.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:26 am

Simply from the bark, the hickory looks pignut. Big pignuts tend to have very small leaves, about the size of bitternut leaves. As Jess said, with five leaves it'll most likely be pignut. Both bitternuts and pignuts tend to grow in moist soils but both can grow upland as well. Mockernut tends to be in drier soils but will grow near streams. Red is the one that is almost always upland with mockernut being a common cohort. Reds and pignuts tend not to grow next to each other but when they do they seem to blend in bark features. Often, one side of a tree will look red and the other pignut. I think these are hybrids but I'm no botanist. Some botanists don't even recognize them as distinct species, calling red a variation. Hickories take the most experience in distinguishing between species (aside from garden variety species like hawthorns) and even then it can be difficult without fruits.

Somewhere like Harvard, Longwood Gardens or Colonial Williamsburg would be a good bet for a larger ginkgo. Heightwise, the tallest I've found is 96'. The height could well be a US record. We don't have a ton of data on ginkgoes.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:28 pm

This morning I spent a couple hours at Inwood Hill before meeting up with David Burg and another botanist friend, Zihao Wang, to measure some trees around the Bronx (more on that in another report!). For this visit I concentrated on non-tuliptree measurements, particularly Chestnut Oak, and found more definitive canopy views with higher points for some previously measured trees. New numbers:

Pignut Hickory
124.9
116.4/9.4'cbh (previously measured to 113')
Northern Red Oak
116.9
115.9/13.7'cbh large old specimen within the tall tulips
112.3
White Oak
113.3/6.3'cbh
113/10.6'cbh
108.3/8.5'cbh
Chestnut Oak
111.5/10.4'cbh/69'ACS. New state height record, at 253 AF points might be a contender for legitimate state champion- the listed tree at 20'+cbh inclines me to question. Max crown spread 81'.
101.5/5.8'cbh
100.8/9.1'cbh
100.5
Black Birch
105.7/5.3'cbh (same specimen as previously measured to 104.7, better vantage point with clear view of highest twig).
Tuliptree
145/12.1'cbh

When Zihao arrived he showed me around the salt marsh that is infiltrating the manicured park area, and the regionally rare brackish-condition specialist plants that have shown up in association with that. Most of the planted trees along that part of the park are london plane, but I felt the need to wrap my tape around this chunky Black Willow in the corner of the lawn. 15.5'cbh! The largest I've met, at least. A few shots into the crown put it at about 65' tall. I may measure this tree more carefully in the future, it has a nice spread as well.
Attachments
The large open-grown Black Willow.
The large open-grown Black Willow.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:47 pm

Saturday 2/6/2016 I headed up to Inwood Hill again, this time to meet a journalist for a walk and discussion of the park's trees. She kindly posed with the last remaining hemlock for a nice scale shot. After our walk and a lunchbreak, I went back into the forest to do some measuring.
Our journalist friend and the Hemlock
Our journalist friend and the Hemlock
It's hard to believe how many separate trails crisscross this small forest. Today I took one that I previously had not and found myself suddenly at the base of a mature Chestnut Oak that seemed even more impressive than the specimen I recorded last time. By the numbers, it is slightly shorter than the other specimen, but slight thicker. Aesthetically it's fantastic, a tall column topped by a tangle of sinuous limbs. Nearby was also a fairly large sassafrass, the canopy here chiefly red and associate oaks with some emergent tulips. There's American Chestnut deadwood on the forest floor. Slightly further down the trail I found a better view of the thin Pignut Hickory I had measured before, revealing a higher top.
The 110.7'/10.9'cbh beautiful chestnut oak, with me for scale
The 110.7'/10.9'cbh beautiful chestnut oak, with me for scale
A full view of the beautiful chestnut oak
A full view of the beautiful chestnut oak
From there the trail entered the epicenter of the tall tree measurements I've shared here in the past, and seeking new viewpoints I both revised existing measurements (a new max for white oak) and measured specimens that I had yet to get to. I think one corner is now just about exhausted, in the vicinity of the thickest tuliptree. It's hard to find a red oak below 120' in this section.

After trying a couple more tuliptrees, I wandered out of the central "bowl" and up onto a section of the slope I had not visited before. I expected heights to taper off here somewhat. A surprise was waiting. Scanning upwards the tuliptrees consistently reached the 140' range, and there in their midst grows a double-trunked chestnut oak. I almost passed it by, since its two stems have not developed the attractive high crown seen on mature trees, but there was something suspiciously lofty about the upswept branches. 132.1' tall for the thicker stem! The thinner stem 127.2', which would be fantastic on its own. With this specimen chestnut oak is the tallest oak species I've measured at Inwood Hill and leapfrogs white oak for the second-tallest oak species measured in NY state. Nearby was another 130' red oak and I expect that species will turn out to be the tallest oak on-site when all are accounted for. Red Oaks in the upper 120s are common there, while chestnut oaks over 110' seem to be outliers.
The tall double chestnut oak. Ignore the tuliptree behind them rising between the two trunks, it blends in to appear as though it's a third trunk.
The tall double chestnut oak. Ignore the tuliptree behind them rising between the two trunks, it blends in to appear as though it's a third trunk.
These two trunks seem likely to have originated as coppice sprouts.
These two trunks seem likely to have originated as coppice sprouts.
Heading back downhill I stumbled on the most convoluted, buttressy American Elm I've ever seen. A hunched demeanor ensures that it's not very tall, but it is quite a character tree.
This elm seems as though it belongs in a tropical forest. One buttress snakes at least 12 feet out from the tree before disappearing.
This elm seems as though it belongs in a tropical forest. One buttress snakes at least 12 feet out from the tree before disappearing.
Today's numbers:
Black Birch
93.2/6.1'cbh
Tuliptree
148.5/12.1'cbh
146/11.7'cbh
142.4/8.8'cbh
128.9/12.7'cbh seems likely one of the oldest tulips present
White Oak
125.8/8.4'cbh new top on specimen previously measured to 115.8'
Northern Red Oak
130.6/11.4'cbh
129.4/8.8'cbh
129.3/11'cbh
124.6/9.4'cbh
123.1 thin young tree
122.7/13.7'cbh specimen previously measured to 115.9'
Chestnut Oak
132.1/8.1' circumference taken 1' above fusion to avoid flare
127.2 fused to above tree. Narrowest point below fusion 13.8' circumference
110.7/10.9'cbh
Pignut Hickory
124.5/5.1'cbh previously measured to 122.1'
American Elm
75.9/11.7'cbh
Sassafrass
92.4/6.4'cbh

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ElijahW
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Re: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by ElijahW » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:35 pm

Erik,

Way to go, man. I expected you might find a chestnut oak somewhere around 120', but 132' will do, I suppose. Well done with the reds, as well. I'm glad to see you're making some contacts in the media; how did your outing go? Thanks for sharing,

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: Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan

Post by dbhguru » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:00 pm

Erik,

Ditto to what Elijah said. Finding trees like these in Manhattan is cosmic cool! I noticed the lone black birch. It becomes tree #637 in the BB database.

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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