Old Cucumber Magnolia? (NY)

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Old Cucumber Magnolia? (NY)

Post by ElijahW » Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:38 pm


As in my recent question about black gum, I'm not too familiar with the appearance of old-growth cucumber magnolia, and I'd like to hear thoughts on whether a particular individual cuke should be considered "old," as well as any possible age estimations. The only examples of old-looking cucumber magnolia I've seen in person are in Cook Forest.

The tree in question is located on the opposite (north) end of Howland's Island from the black gums, though the growing conditions are similar. The soil is fertile and well-drained, and this particular spot seems to be slightly raised, perhaps the site of an old trail or roadbed. Associated tree species include black cherry, ash, soft maples, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, tulip tree, basswood, beech, and bur oak, among others. Before leaf-out this spring, I had assumed the tree to be a white oak, and that it was planted, being the only one in the vicinity. I was wrong, and other cucumber trees can be found in close proximity, indicating to me that it grew naturally. I'm fairly certain that this isn't the tree Jess Riddle referred to in his max list on the Howland's Island thread http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f ... 7&start=20 due to the difference in girth measurements, but he may have seen the tree and can offer an opinion on it. I measured the tree's height to 88.2' and cbh to 79". Below are pictures of the tree in question:
Thanks for the help! I hope everyone is enjoying summer.
"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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Re: Old Cucumber Magnolia? (NY)

Post by edfrank » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:19 pm


I would be hard pressed to offer an age estimate. The oldest documented tree is the ~436 year old fallen cucumber at Cook Forest. One of the indications of old age is the balding of the bark. The old cucumber tree did not show that characteristic. Better indications might be the thick branches and broken crown high up in the tree. It certainly has that gnarled look. I would go for at least a couple hundred, but it might be much older as I don't think we have enough age data to get a good feel of what old cucumber trees look like.

"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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