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Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:47 pm
by ElijahW

Durand-Eastman Park, on the south shore of Lake Ontario, is an excellent combination of native forest, arboretum, and open space. Like Highland Park to the south, Durand-Eastman features dozens of unusual exotic species in their mature forms. I’ve made a couple of visits here over the last year or so, and thought I’d share what I’ve found so far. I’ve barely touched the surface of what’s here, and I’m looking forward to future visits, by myself and Tom Howard. A good description of Durand-Eastman can be found here:

Towards the bottom of the native tree list is a nugget for Bob.

Native Trees Measured


136.8’ x 8.9’
130.2’ x 9.44’

Red Maple

127.3’ x 7.15 (new NY maximum)

Bitternut Hickory

125.6’ x 6.04’

Black Oak

125.6’ x 9.05’ (new NY maximum)

Northern Red Oak

124.3’ x 8.34’

American Beech


Black Birch

117.1’ x 5.89’

Sugar Maple


White Oak

115.0’ x 5.37’

Eastern Hemlock


Rucker 10 Height Average: 123.1’

The Rucker average will certainly increase with more surveys, but probably not by more than a few feet. HWA is just starting to make an impact here, and I expect the forest will look much different soon, as hemlock is a significant canopy component on the slopes. The tallest trees are concentrated in a small area in the bottom of two adjacent ravines, and I have at least a couple more similar ravines yet to explore.

Exotic Trees Measured

Ivy-leaved Maple Acer cissifolium

62.1’ Multiple trunks

Cappadocian Maple Acer cappadocicum

83.8’ x 7.06’

Siberian Elm Ulmus pumila

98.2’ x 12.02’

European Linden Tilia x europaea

72’ x 10.93’

Raisin Tree Hovenia dulcis

92.6’ x 5.04’

Chinese Toon Toona sinensis

94.1’ x 5.32’

Ogeechee Tupelo Nyssa ogeche

55.8’ Multiple trunks


Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:27 am
by Erik Danielsen
That is quite a concentration of state maximums for a few small ravines! Would you regard these as especially vigorous second-growth, or are parts of this old growth?

It's interesting that 110'+ (and 115'+) black birch are turning up all over the state, in a variety of different climates and habitats. That band of sites on western long island might not be so entirely unique in the long run. I wonder if a combination of a canopy release, with the old-growth soil ecology largely retained, plus 120-150 years of regrowth on the right sites that helps produce most of them. I have not seen truly old-growth black birch in the same height class.

Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:56 pm
by dbhguru
Elijah, Erik,

Whew! I've finally gotten my eyeballs back into their sockets. 117! NY black birches rule. Absolutely rule. It makes sense, though, when you think of it. NY has a very wide range of topography, geology, climate, and forest history. Logically, NY's tree treasures should surpass those of the small New England states to the east, and it was only a matter of time until the truth came out. More specifically, it required the appearance of Elijah Whitcomb, Erik Danielsen, Tom Howard, Howard Stoner, Fred Breglia, Jess Riddle, with some support from Dale Luthringer from PA and Jared Lockwood and yours truly from MA. We three out-of-staters salute you, our betters. We three petition to be accepted as honorary New Yorkers.


Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:26 pm
by ElijahW
Erik, Bob,

Thanks. The park was established in 1919, I believe, and the forested ravines certainly predate that. My guess is that the oldest trees probably approach 250 years, and most of these are oaks. The Birch is likely in the age range you mentioned, Erik. It basically sits at the bottom of a hole and is competing with Tulips and Red oaks. Black Birch is very common near the lake, and seems to grow very well here.

Bob, these days, I prefer to cling to my Vermont roots rather than be known as a New Yorker, but I guess New Yorker is what I am. I see no reason why you shouldn’t be counted as welcome among us, and we would be honored to have you.


Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:19 pm
by Larry Tucei
Elijah- Your are a measuring machine. Perhaps in the future we could all have a rendezvous and do some measuring together. Congrats on all your finds! Larry

Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:31 pm
by ElijahW
Thanks, Larry. I’d like that. If I had time off this winter I’d definitely be headed south, but right now I don’t.

Do you have any experience with the Ogeechee Tupelo? It looked similar to the Black gum, (or Tupelo) we have up here, but the tree I saw didn’t have any leaves or fruit. Stay warm,


Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:04 pm
by ElijahW

Some additional measurements from Durand Eastman:

*Denotes NY height champion

Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca

126.0’ x 6.35’*
123.5’ x 6.5’

Katsura Tree Cercidiphyllum japonicum

121.0’ x 5.57’*

White Fir Abies concolor

113.0’ x 8.29’*

Western Red Cedar Thuja plicata

91.8’ x 10.76’

Mountain Silverbell Halesia tetraptera var. monticola

100.4’ x 8.65’ (circumference measured at 3.5’ due to low branching)*

White Basswood Tilia americana var. heterophylla

90.1’ x 10.22’*

Common Persimmon Diospyros virginiana


Kobus Magnolia Magnolia kobus

70.4’ x 6.4’*

Sourwood Oxydendrum arboreum


Chinese Fringe Tree Chionanthus retusus

50.8’* (clump)

Korean Evodia Tetradium daniellii

50.8’* (clump)

Fragrant Snow Bell Styrax obassia

45.0’ x 1.95’*

I’m not sure if the scientific name is correct for the Silverbell; it’s hard to believe that a variety (monticola) could be so much larger than the species it’s derived from. I remember Will Blozan writing something about this a while back, but didn’t find it in the archives. A couple of photos of the Silverbell:
Silverbell bark
Silverbell bark
Seed capsule?
Seed capsule?
More to come.


Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:42 pm
by Erik Danielsen
Really awesome to see those tall Douglas Firs. Pretty solid on that Western Redcedar too. For some reason I just really want to know what height potential different western species ultimately have growing over here in the east, with an underlying curiosity about just why it is that they grow so differently in different places.

Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:58 am
by Larry Tucei
Elijah- I did not know of the Ogeechee Tupelo I had to look it up. Wiki shows it only growing in a small region of northwest Florida. Larry

Re: Durand Eastman Park, Rochester

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:30 pm
by ElijahW

I hadn’t heard of the Tupelo before this either. Black gum is tolerant of our cold winter temperatures up here, and the Ogeechee seems to have at least some tolerance, as well.


Before finding these Douglas Firs, I only knew of two 120’+ trees, both in Letchworth’s plantations, one of which was in poor health. This Durand-Eastman hillside has at least four 120’+ trees. All of these specimens are around 100 years old, +/-5 years. I assume both Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar get larger south of us in NY, but maybe not. George? Dale? Turner? Will? Brian?

The tallest Norway Spruce I’ve found at Morgan Hill should reach the 140’ (at 80-85 years old) mark this growing season, and the tallest we know of currently in the US is located in MA, so the northeast is capable of producing tall exotic conifers. What makes a tall specimen tree? Good genetics, probably, from a good seed source, along with rich soil and plenty of moisture, I guess, but what else?