A local hemlock of note

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#1)  A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:27 am

This nice specimen is on a hill side in East montpelier.  The area was cleared in the early 1800's, and the second growth dates from sometime after that.  THere are mature hemlocks with branches that begin at around 20 feet.  In parts of this area, the last logging was 40 or 50 years ago and decaying hemlock stumps are indicative.  The area was never farmed, and lacks roads, cellar holes, or even stone walls.  All just a few miles from the state capital.  I think this one is the parent of the mature hemlocks in the area.  It is on a property line, and distinctively older than its neighbors.  As usual, I did not measure, but us my 145 CM poles for perspective.  On one side of the tree, a decayed hemlock stump with a ten year old sapling growing out of the decay.  On the other side, a 14 inch DBH beech, now in advanced stage of blight, and the barbed wire runs dead center through the tree.  It has been AWHILE since any logging or other activity.  THis tree is on the border of Montpelier park land, and East Montpelier private land, or maybe on the border of conserved and private land, hard to tell, middle of the woods.  I'll try to measure more actively another time.  From what I know of Hemlocks and their growth patterns in Vermont, I can safely age this tree at 200 years, either growing up during the first cut of this hillside, or retained as a border tree.  The land records aren't too far away (in the town office) and now I'm curious.

I give it an estimated DBH of around 120 CM.
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#2)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:40 am

here is the neighboring beech tree.  How long since some strung that barbed wire?
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beech grown over barbed wire.jpg
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#3)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:42 am

This image is blurry, but you can see at the bottom, the barbed wire is just lying there.  My point is, when that wire came through, this tree was mature enough, with mature enough bark, to not grow around the barbed wire.  I've actually never seen that happen before.
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blurry close up of hemlock.jpg
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#4)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:45 am

And finally, here is a neighbor, another hemlock just up the hill.  Younger, but how much?  Old enough to grow, get really tall, have no branches until 20 feet, and then old enough for a porcupine to exploit a basal scar (from some logging?) to build a home.  Note all the freshly excavated material in its front yard.
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younger hemlock, same neighborhood, grown and matured enought to house a porcupine.jpg
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#5)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:51 am

               
                       
panorama of giant hemlock gould hill.jpg
                                       
               
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#6)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:57 am

I posted two more pictures from this area, using the panorama feature of my phone I could get almost the whole tree, and the perspective is a little funny.

The one on the stream bank I photographed because I was interested in how its roots are buttressing the bank.  The "giant" is interesting.  it has the trunk of an older tree--the bark is different, thick, older, and the trunk has an arc to it that only comes from weathering a significant storm and then recovering.  It is not that tall, and of course I can't see the crown for the life of me.  I suspect it has big break up there at some point.

Some notes on the local topography--standing dead hardwoods, lots of downed logs in varying states of decay, a couple, and only a couple twisted trunks, and probably 15 hemlocks of greater than 24 inches in diameter.  Only one tree with limbs that begin above 35 or 40 feet.  This little area is absent completely double trunked trees, absent conpletely stumps, absent completely basal scars.

Looks to be relatively undisturbed for 80-100 years, maybe longer.
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panorama of helmlock on stream bank.jpg
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#7)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby adam.rosen » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:09 pm

I have posted about this area before.  I should change the name of my original post to "Old Growth Hemlock In East Montpelier".  In fact, I should say, Holy #$#$, Old Growth Hemlock in my backyard!  I've enjoyed walking and skiing in this area, and have brought friends and family to meet some of the giant trees.  This area is amazing--shady, always cool in the summer, filled with trees of all different sizes, and the ground is uneven, alternatively rocky and spongy.  The trunks are deeply cragged with old, rough bark.  There is evidence, abundant actually, that this is a old growth area.

I have examined the warranty deed on the property, including a donation to the Vermont Land Trust, and then a gift to the town of East Montpelier.  I also have done word of mouth investigation among local landowners.  A family choose not to cut this section of hemlock in the 1800's and the trees were notably old then, enough so that a family dispute ensued, the woman of the house prevailed, and the trees were not cut.  "She was a tree hugger before there were tree huggers."

Hemlocks grow very slowly in this area.  I counted rings on a cut down specimen in the woods behind the National Life Insurance building.  This hemlock was approximately 30 inches in diameter, and was one of the larger specimens on the site, which is a second growth forest at least 70 years old.  The section of the trunk without branches was only 10 or 12 feet high.  A large but unspectacular specimen, it had 206 annual growth rings.  The hemlock grove in East Montpelier is full of trees that are much larger than this--"34-38 " in diameter for a few.   I think they are between 300 and 400 years old.  I know that sounds crazy but every time I see a cut hemlock in this area I take a ring count.  They grow slowly here and, outside of Marsh Billings National Park, I have not seen larger hemlocks in Vermont.

I have examined the warranty deed on the property, including a donation to the Vermont Land Trust, and then a gift to the town of East Montpelier.  I also have done word of mouth investigation among local landowners.  The Baird family choose not to cut this section of hemlock in the 1800's and the trees were notably old then.  

I'm posting the land trust conservation map from 1996, which was created when the land was given to the land trust.  I live somewhere on this map, which is wonderful to be walking distance for this great grove.  Any ENTS are welcome.
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2006 BDR Map in word.docx
This is the map indicating the old growth area
(7.06 MiB) Downloaded 25 times
well worn stump.jpg
A few trunks, especially ones that lean, are worn smooth on the uphill part. Only four or five trees like this.
rough bark.jpg
the deeply grooved bark of OG hemlock.
nurse stump.jpg
This stump is near the OG area, and is nursing a young spruce tree along.
coyote or bear scat.jpg
the area is frequented by large predators, this must below to a coyote or bear. Or a human, but their pooh would not glisten with insect chitin (or maybe bits of mica from soil>).
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#8)  Re: A local hemlock of note

Postby ElijahW » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:49 pm

Adam,

I apologize for not commenting on your thread before.  Old growth does seem hard to find in Vermont, and these hemlocks are wonderful finds.  I'm unfamiliar with the Montpelier area; I grew up in the Champlain Valley, but have no memory of anything east of Lincoln.  Eastern, low-elevation Vermont has some scattered old trees, but little old growth to speak of.  Before the end of the year I intend to report on a location or two in New Haven.  If I get over to your area, I'll try to let you know ahead of time, and maybe we can meet up.

Thanks for sharing,

Elijah

P.S.  My guess on the scat is something from the canine family - probably coyote.  Bear scat ought to be in a pile.  If you're curious enough, digging through it would give some solid clues.......
"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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