Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:31 pm

NTS,
Kensington Metropark is a place that I know well as I grew up just over a stones throw from it starting in early 1969 when I was only 4 years old. Even as I have moved away my parents have continued to live in the same place and I've tried to visit as often as possible. I'm going to describe Kensington Metropark more fully than any other place because I've known it for so long and it has become near and dear to my heart...warts and all.

I'll start with a map of Michigan that I made for myself to set the scene.
MichiganTreeMaxRegions.001.jpeg
Kensington Metropark is located mostly in the southwestern corner of Oakland county in the southeastern lower peninsula. A small part of the park extends westward into southeastern Livingston county. In the map above Oakland county is the northeastern white-colored county. In southern Michigan we often speak of tiers of counties, so that the southernmost row or tier of counties is referred to as the first tier. Oakland county is in the third tier of counties as you can clearly see. This matters when it comes to the distribution of plants, animals and other living things especially regarding species with more southerly distributions. Some southern species only make it to the first tier, others to the second and on and on. This goes for northern species as well, it's just that there are fewer species and it operates in reverse. Now I'll show a simple map that I made showing the watershed of the Huron River which runs right through Kensington Metropark.
HURON copy.001.jpeg
This simple map shows all the parks over 1,000 acres in size that are at least partially within the Huron River watershed. I believe Stinchfield is one of two exceptions (I think it is less than 1,000 acres) but since it is adjacent to a larger park I decided to include it. The other exception is a Michigan Nature Association park that I simply integrated into Indian Springs Metropark. Lastly, here is a good map of Kensington Metropark.
2016-Kensington-Park-Brochure_2.pdf
(1.2 MiB) Downloaded 23 times
Kensington Metropark was opened in 1948 and it was the first of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks to be opened. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks were planned as a kind of ring of parks around the Detroit Metropolitan region. The Clinton River empties into Lake St. Clair to the North of Detroit and as you follow it upstream one of its branches begins in what is now Indian Springs Metropark to the northwest of Detroit. The swamps of Indian Springs Metropark also give rise to the Huron River which begins flowing in a southwesterly direction and later in a southeasterly direction so that it forms a C-shape to the west of Detroit. Kensington Metropark encompasses 4,486 acres including the 1,200 acre Kent Lake which was formed by damming the Huron River. This metropark is physically connected to Proud Lake State Recreation Area (about 4,700 acres) to the north and east (upstream along the Huron River) and Island Lake State Recreation Area (about 4,000 acres) to the south and west (downstream along the Huron River).

The Huron River and Kent Lake are the centerpiece of Kensington Metropark and the big draw for about two and a half million visitors per year which makes it the most popular year-round park in Michigan. The most common game fish is bluegill but you can also catch anything from largemouth and smallmouth bass to pike and walleye back down to black crappie and pumpkinseed. However, the greatest fish biomass is made up of the many large common carp. Unfortunately I don't have any good digital pictures of Kent Lake but here is one recent glimpse of one of the many bays.
Kensington 17.jpg
Notice the lotus plants which have only fairly recently moved into Kent Lake.

The terrestrial portion of Kensington was once a mix of oak savanna, oak-hickory forest and woodlands as well as some prairie and fens. The oak savanna was essentially destroyed due to agriculture and fire suppression but the remnants can still be seen and the park is actively trying to restore the land back to a more open state through cutting and burning. I wish I had a picture of the acres of wild lupine that bloomed after a nice burn in an area dominated by black oak and open grassland. You'll have to settle for a picture of a nice bur oak in an open area that fits my idea of what Kensington might have looked more like in the past even though the picture was taken in Island Lake State Recreation Area.
Kensington 27.jpg
To be fair, the picture was taken just a hop, skip and a jump from Kensington Metropark. The aftermath of farming can still be seen in the many old fields which are now starting to look a bit more like small bits of prairie or savanna even though they need plenty of maintenance due to the many invasive species that are trying their best to take over.
Kensington 1.jpg
Here is a picture of some prairie restoration work along the north side of Wildwing Lake.
Kensington 14.jpg
Looking to the west from about this same position you can see a Hill's oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) which would likely have been an important component of oak savannas in this park.
Kensington 15.jpg
This particular part of the park has a particularly high concentration of Hill's oaks. Lack of fire for so long has allowed savannas to grow into woodlands and woodlands to grow into forest. One of the nicest bits of forest is located at the extreme eastern edge of the park and the species composition is very representative of the typical oak-hickory forest in this region.
Kensington 8.jpg
This upland forest is dominated by white, black and northern red oaks as well as pignut hickory and black cherry with a smattering of other species like basswood. Underfoot is plenty of mayapple which is also what I generally think of as a typical groundcover for this forest type. This forest grades into a small area with more soil moisture around a vernal pool. Swamp white oak and red maple are common around the vernal pool and until very recently green ash were also present. There are some small American elms present as well and these were likely much more important before DED. A little farther from the vernal pool are quite a few shagbark hickories. Below is a picture of the vernal pool, large swamp white oak and surrounding forest.
Kensington 7.jpg
When I was a kid I loved to follow the many small creeks in the park to their source which would usually be a small pool of springs flowing over a bottom covered in marl (calcium carbonate that has precipitated out of solution). Below is a picture of such a stream flowing through a woodland.
Kensington 21.jpg
A number of these small streams ended up flowing into what I would later learn is a rather remarkable feature of this park: A prairie fen. I always loved this feature of the park because it was always buzzing with activity and because of the odd mix of species. Prairie fens are among the most biologically rich areas in Michigan and it turns out they are more common in Michigan than any other state or province. In a book called "Prairies and Savannas in Michigan" by O'Connor, Kost and Cohen, they specifically highlight the prairie fen in Kensington Metropark which I thought was really cool. Many people don't appreciate these areas very much as they don't seem to be aesthetically pleasing to most folks. I'm not expecting even many NTS to be overly thrilled with the following pictures. Here is one of the many tiny streams just as it is entering this nice fen.
Kensington 11.jpg
The fen is often dominated by tamarack and poison sumac as in the following picture.
Kensington 12.jpg
Northern species like tamarack and paper birch are often found side by side with more southern species like eastern redcedar and black walnut. It's also fun to see species more typical of well-drained uplands next to species that are usually found only in wetlands.
Kensington 13.jpg
This prairie fen is located to the northeast of Wildwing Lake which is itself a nice draw for both wildlife and people. A small island in Wildwing Lake has a small great blue heron rookery which is easily viewed from the boardwalk at the eastern end of the lake.
Kensington 16.jpg
In my next post I'll concentrate on the animals of the park before turning my attention to the trees.

Doug

User avatar
dbhguru
Posts: 4484
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:34 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by dbhguru » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:51 pm

Doug,

Thanks for a fabulous read. Looking forward to the next installment.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:22 pm

NTS,

I'll say a few words about the animals of Kensington Metropark before moving on to trees.

White-tailed deer are, of course, the most abundant large mammal in the park. In the 80's they became a real problem and were stripping the park of all greenery that they could reach. They also died in amazing numbers during hard winters. I think it was during the 90's that deer were first thinned in the park by people that were trained just for this task. It was a very controversial move but one that I very strongly supported. Deer are less numerous, less destructive and much healthier today. In recent years there have been sightings of albino deer and there is a young one around today. My mom was particularly excited to show me where it was likely to be found...and there it was! She was said I was so lucky.
Kensington 22.jpg
There are lots of other mammals but I'll only mention a few. Squirrels are extremely numerous and they include three species of tree squirrels. Fox squirrels are the largest and are generally more common in areas that were once oak savannas but they do well in any more open woodland that somewhat mimics oak savanna from cemeteries to golf courses and city parks to backyards. Gray squirrels do best in deciduous forest lands and they have a black phase which is very common in Kensington. Many people think that the black squirrels are a separate species but they are not. Black squirrels have moved or been transported to the region from farther north. When I was a child I don't remember them in Kensington but I can't say for certain whether they were absent or not. It seems odd that someone might transport them into an area but I've read that some people have done just that by moving them into Massachusetts from the Detroit area because they liked them. Gray squirrels are probably more common than fox squirrels at this time. Red squirrels are the smallest and least common of the tree squirrels as they tend to prefer coniferous forests and these are sorely lacking in Kensington. In the 70's thirteen-lined ground squirrels were among the most common small mammals in and around Kensington. They were as common as chipmunks but they are now very rare. I've asked everyone why they think this has happened and no one seems to know. A few people seem to think it is from people poisoning them while others blame cats or some combination of these with other factors. I have no clue. The open areas that they prefer seem just about as common as before (in the 70's) so I don't think habitat loss is the main reason. I really liked the little guys. On the opposite end of the numbers spectrum are coyotes. They were not present in the 70's and now they are back in force and they are quite common. The red foxes are not happy about it but I love it. We need more big predators.

Kensington Metropark is particularly well known for the birds. They are abundant, diverse and many of the song birds have been trained to come and eat out of a persons hand. I've been to a few parks like this but none yet where the birds are so bold. Black-capped chickadees are always the easiest to get to eat out of your hand. Then come the tufted titmice, followed by white-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers. These are the big four but you can sometimes get others like hairy woodpeckers or red-winged blackbirds, for example, to eat out of your hand as well. My wife has even gotten a young deer to eat out of her hand, much to the dismay of mamma until she decided to come close too! OK, so deer aren't exactly birds.
Kensington 5.jpg
The most obvious bird declines that I've noticed include meadowlarks and bobolinks but there seem to have been many more successes. Among the raptors, bald eagles and ospreys are back and doing well. Pileated woodpeckers are now nearly impossible not to see on a long walk. Sandhill cranes were once very rare and now they are a major feature of the park...they are unbelievably common and impossible to miss. Turkeys were completely absent when I was a kid and now they are also very common. Great egrets are now nesting near the great blue heron rookery and they are everywhere in the park. I never saw this beautiful species when I was a child. There are some unfortunate invasive species but most seem to not be increasing too much perhaps because so many people dislike starlings and house sparrows and the like. The same cannot be said of mute swans which have become very abundant. It is not uncommon to be able to see 30 or more of these very large birds at once. They are certainly beautiful animals but I'd rather not have them around.
Kensington 3.jpg
The herps, reptiles and amphibians, were my favorites as a child. I think I was most drawn to the species that others did not like, especially the snakes. The most common species are and were much the same as in most other areas of the northeastern quadrant of the US. Eastern garter snakes, painted turtles (the midland subspecies), American toads, green frogs and spring peepers among others. Ones that are common in Kensington but not where I now live in eastern Massachusetts include blue racers (a subspecies of the black racer), eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes (also a subspecies), spiny softshell turtles, Blanding's turtles, western chorus frogs (yet another subspecies), tiger salamanders and blue-spotted salamanders. Gray tree frogs are fairly common here in Dighton, MA but not nearly as common as in the Kensington area where they are very abundant and are the sound of summer for me. The eastern Massasauga rattlesnake is now a federally threatened species but I have seen more in recent years in Kensington and adjacent parks than ever before. Blue racers, on the other hand, seem less abundant. Northern leopard frogs and pickerel frogs have suffered well-documented declines.

Well, now it's just about time for the trees, but I'd first like to point out the three invasive plants that I feel have been most troublesome. Of the little guys on the ground nothing is as bad as garlic mustard. Autumn olive is the most aggressive and abundant non-native shrub and oriental bittersweet is the worst of the vines. All three are a big problem along with a growing list of baddies but I think garlic mustard is the most difficult to deal with long term. Below is a picture showing how oriental bittersweet can cover a forest from bottom to top and this isn't even a really bad picture.
Kensington 28.jpg
Doug

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:26 pm

NTS,

on to the trees! I'm going to start with the tallest that I've measured and work my way down with one caveat. Once I start with a genus, I'll finish that genus even if several are not especially tall because it makes more sense to me to treat them together.

First up are the hickories and I'm oh so happy that they top the list! The street address where I grew up was Hickory Ridge Road, now South Hickory Ridge Trail, and the most common hickory in the area is pignut hickory. Pignut hickory is so far the tallest tree species that I have measured in the park and I have measurements of 26 trees which is more than for any other species. My original measurements of three trees that were most impressive to me are:
Height: 7.31' (87.72") x 123' = 211 points. (just the girth in inches plus the height in feet) (December 2008)
Crown: 9.00' (108.00") x 85.5' = 194 points. (even though crown spread not measured this tree clearly had the best crown of any I've seen) (December 2008)
Girth: 9.55' (114.60") x 73.5' = 188 points. (December 2008)
The first two were remeasured in December of 2017. The last one was dead. Below are the remeasurements. All heights, unless otherwise stated, were made with a Nikon 440 shooting straight up.
Height: 7.93' (95.16") x 132' = 227 points. Grew 7.44" x 9' in 9 years or 0.83" x 1.00' per year
Crown: 9.43' (113.16") x 91.5' = 205 points. Grew 5.16" x 6' in 9 years or 0.43" x 0.67' per year
Below is a picture of the tallest pignut taken several years ago.
Kensington 2.jpg
The next most common hickory species is possibly red hickory. Some of the 26 pignut hickory measurements may actually be of red hickory but I'll have to sort them out one at a time. I'm pretty sure that the three mentioned above are all true pignut hickories. So, at this time I do not have any measurements that I know are of red hickory.

Shagbark hickory are next as they may or may not be more common than red hickory in Kensington. I'm betting that they are not. I have measured 9 shagbark hickories in the park and below are the three most impressive to date.
Height: 5.94' (71.28") x 112.5' = 184 points. (December 2009)
Points: 6.40' (76.80") x 108' = 185 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 8.17' (98.04") x 78' = 176 points. (December 2009?)
So far I've only remeasured the top one in December of 2017 and I measured a new one (tenth one) that I never measured before.
Height: 6.18' (74.16") x 115.5' = 190 points. Grew 2.88" x 3' in 8 years or 0.36" x 0.375' per year
New Tree: 5.47' (65.64") x 115.5' = 181 points.

Bitternut hickory is the least common of the hickories to my knowledge and I have only measured one last December (2017).
7.65' (91.80") x 100.5' = 192 points.

Doug

User avatar
Larry Tucei
Posts: 2014
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:44 am

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:51 am

Doug- Excellent post! Your detailed description was very informative and thanks for your dedication. It is so cool to have measurement from 08 to present. Those Hickories sure grow slow. I saw Lake Michigan back in 2012 from Port Washington in Wisconsin. It reminded me of the Gulf of Mexico so Blue. I stayed in Crivitz on my way to the Cathedral Pines and was only 20 miles from the Border put didn't have time to go over. I've always wanted visit Michigan someday I will make it up there. Larry

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:33 pm

Larry,

it's funny that you think the hickories are very slow because I have actually been fairly impressed by the growth of the tallest pignut in particular. Different perspectives I guess! I hope you do visit Michigan someday. Take a drive up the west side along Lake Michigan and visit some of the many parks with nice, sandy beaches, especially Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Then check out Pictured Rocks, The Porcupine Mountains and Isle Royale in the UP. Maybe not all at once, but those are all the best places in my opinion.

Doug

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:12 pm

NTS,

after the 132' tall pignut hickory there is a tie for second place but it was pretty easy to decide on which to talk about first. It's got to be the oaks since oaks are the dominant genus in Kensington and they go hand in hand with the hickories. I'll order the oaks based on most to least common as near as I can figure it.

I should more accurately say that I am ordering the oaks based on basal area and not actual number of trees. I believe that on this basis that white oak is the top oak species in Kensington. The tallest and largest in girth of the 11 trees that I've measured to date are listed below.
Height: 7.16' (85.92") x 111' = 197 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 14.92' (179.04") x 88.5' = 268 points. (I think also in December of 2009)
So far I've only remeasured the tallest one.
Height: 7.61' (91.32") x 114' = 205 points. (December 2017) Grew 5.40" x 3' in 8 years or 0.675" x 0.375' per year.
Below is a picture of Ellen in front of the girthiest tree several years ago.
Kensington 26.jpg
There are almost certainly more black oaks in Kensington than white oaks but they tend to be younger and smaller on the whole and therefore make up a good deal less basal area than the white oaks. I measured 13 black oaks and the tallest and most stout are listed below.
Height: 8.67' (104.04") x 112.5' = 217 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 14.40' (172.80") x 69' = 242 points. (Probably December 2009)
I only remeasured the tallest one.
Height: 9.24' (110.88") x 115.5' = 226 points. (December 2017) Grew 6.84" x 3' in 8 years or 0.855" x 0.375' per year.
I'm still a bit surprised that the tallest black oak is a little taller than the tallest white oak. At least for now.

The third most dominant oak is northern red oak and I've measured 18 to date. The three most impressive are listed below.
Height: 10.53' (126.36") x 121.5' = 248 points. (December 2009)
Points: 11.54' (138.48") x 111' = 249 points. (Probably December 2009)
Girth: 12.23' (146.76") x 100.5' = 247 points. (Probably December 2009)
So far I've only remeasured the tallest one.
Height: 11.31' (135.72") x 126' = 262 points. (December 2017) Grew 9.36" x 4.5' in 8 years or 1.17" x 0.56' per year.
As expected, northern red oak is the tallest of the oaks and tied for second tallest tree species in Kensington Metropark at this time.

Hill's oak is the fourth most important oak species in Kensington and it is essentially impossible to distinguish from scarlet oak based on morphology alone. At this time it is unknown if true scarlet oak exists in Michigan. Hill's oak appears to be the least shade tolerant of the tree oaks in Michigan so the lower limbs are constantly dying off and it is the reason this species is so hard to find in older, more mature forests. Hill's oak is more characteristic of the dry, sandy soils farther north where it grows side by side with jack pine but it is common in Kensington Metropark and other parks in Oakland County which is a bit unusual because it is so far south of the normal range of the species. Below are a couple pictures of this species in Kensington.
Kensington 9.jpg
Kensington 10.jpg
I measured 4 trees of this species in 2008 and the two most impressive are listed below.
Height: 8.56' (102.72") x 90' = 193 points. (December 2008)
Girth: 12.22' (146.64") x 84' = 225 points. (December 2008)
I didn't remeasure either of these trees because I found several taller new trees and also a couple of trees with greater girth as well. The above tree with the larger girth is now dead anyway. Below are 4 newly measured Hill's oaks.
9.61' (115.32") x 97.5' = 213 points. (December 2017)
10.55' (126.60") x 96' = 223 points. (December 2017)
13.60' (163.20") x 96' = 259 points. (December 2017)
13.74' (164.88") x 94.5' = 259 points. (December 2017)
I measured another Hill's oak to 97.5' as well but I haven't yet measured the girth or GPS'd the location of it yet. There may yet be a 100 footer out there.

I think bur oak is the fifth most important oak in Kensington and I measured 12 from 2008-2009. The tallest and stoutest of these are listed below.
Height: 11.26' (135.12") x 103.5' = 239 points. (December 2008)
Girth: 13.96' (167.52") x 84' = 252 points. (Probably December 2009)
The tallest of the above trees is now dead and I've not yet had a chance to measure the other one. I did, however, find a new height champ for the park that is quite impressive.
Height: 11.78' (141.36") x 114' =255 points. (December 2017)

Swamp white oak is probably the sixth most dominant oak species in the park. I've only measured 6 of them so far with the two most impressive below.
Height: 11.14' (133.68") x 109.5' = 243 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 11.84' (142.08") x 91.5' = 234 points. (December 2009)
I remeasured both of these trees.
Height: 11.75' (141.00") x 112.5' = 254 points. (December 2017) Grew 7.32" x 3' in 8 years or 0.915" x 0.375' per year.
Girth: 12.56' (150.72") x 97.5' = 248 points. (December 2017) Grew 8.64" x 6' in 8 years or 1.08" x 0.75' per year.
Below is an older picture of the second of these two trees.
Kensington 6.jpg
The only other oak species that I've found in the park is Chinkapin oak but these are few and rather small so I haven't measured any to date. At first I thought they might be dwarf chinkapin oaks but I'm pretty sure that is wrong.

That's it for the oaks. I'll post on some more species tomorrow.

Doug

User avatar
Erik Danielsen
Posts: 857
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:28 am

Really enjoying this writeup and all the additional ecological context. The prarie fen actually excites me just as much as the trees. I expect sometime this spring or summer I'll wander in there with my camera and spend most of a day at just a couple hundred yards per hour, if that. I also note that your measurements are straight up with a nikon 440- I'd be happy to get any full sine measurements for you and hopefully meet up sometime. I'll be there very briefly in mid-april, but should have some more leisurely visits later in spring and summer.

Very much looking forward to the rest.

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:16 pm

Erik,

I'll get you lats and longs for all the tall/big trees after all the posts. I'm happy to hear that you find the prairie fen so exciting. I really need to learn the smaller plants to better appreciate this site.

Doug

User avatar
DougBidlack
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:43 pm

The poplars are next. In this case I'm using the broad definition of poplar so that all members of the genus Populus are included.

The most common poplars are bigtooth aspens but I don't actually have a single measurement for any of these in Kensington Metropark at this time. At least I haven't written any down, but I do know that this species makes it to the mid-90's at least. A typical scene of a small group follows.
Kensington 31.jpg
Eastern cottonwoods are the second most common poplars but I've made only 4 measurements so far. The two most impressive are below.
Height: ? x 118.5' (December 2008)
Girth: 16.05' (192.60") x 106.5' = 299 points. (December 2008)
I remeasured both of the above trees.
Height: 8.78' (105.36") x 126' = 231 points. (December 2017) Grew 7.5' in 9 years or 0.83' per year.
Girth: 16.90' (202.80") x 109.5' = 312 points. (December 2017) Grew 10.20" x 3' in 9 years or 1.13" x 0.33' per year.

The least common poplars that I'm sure are in the park are quaking aspens. I only measured 1 late last year.
4.38' (52.56") x 96' = 149 points. (December 2017)

For some reason I have it in my head that I saw a balsam poplar in the prairie fen area but I'm not convinced that this tree exists anywhere other than my imagination.

I've measured 14 black cherries so far and this is the only species in the Prunus genus that I've measured to date. The two best are below.
Height: 5.41' (64.92") x 117' = 182 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 8.75' (105.00") x 111' = 216 points. (December 2009)
I remeasured both of the above trees.
Height: 5.70' (68.40") x 121.5' = 190 points. (December 2017) Grew 3.48" x 4.5' in 8 years or 0.435" x 0.56' per year.
Girth: 9.48' (113.76") x 118.5' = 232 points. (December 2017) Grew 8.76" x 7.5' in 8 years or 1.095" x 0.94' per year.

There are at least 3 native maples in the park. The most common are boxelders but I have yet to measure a single one. Most people don't seem to care for boxelders but I become more fond of them with each passing year. The young and vigorously growing ones provide needed color during the colder months.
Kensington 34.jpg
I believe red maples are next and I've measured 14 of these trees. The three most impressive are below.
Height: 6.14' (73.68") x 117' = 191 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 8.48' (101.76") x 114' = 216 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 9.86' (118.32") x 103.5' = 222 points. (Probably measured in December 2008 and a double)
So far I've only remeasured the top tree. The third one, the double, is now dead.
Height: 6.66' (79.92") x 120' = 200 points. (December 2017) Grew 6.24" x 3' in 8 years or 0.78" x 0.375' per year.

Sugar maples are the least common of the maples that I know to be present in the park. I have only measured one.
9.62' (115.44") x 90' = 205 points. (Probably in December 2009)
I remeasured this tree late last year.
9.96' (119.52") x 94.5' = 214 points. (December 2017) Grew 4.08" x 4.5' in 8 years or 0.51" x 0.56' per year.
This species is also commonly planted throughout the park.
Kensington 32.jpg
Silver maples are present in Proud Lake State Recreation Area upstream of Kensington as well as in Island Lake State Recreation Area downstream of the park. It is possible that there are some native ones in the park near the Huron River and it is also likely that some have been planted by park employees.

I measured 2 basswoods in late 2009, remeasured them both in late 2017 and measured a third tree for the first time in late 2017.
Height: 5.60' (67.20") x 112.5' = 180 points. (December 2009)
Girth: 7.17' (86.04") x 106.5' = 193 points. (December 2009)
Remeasured trees
Height: 6.01' (72.12") x 120' = 192 points. (December 2017) Grew 4.92" x 7.5' in 8 years or 0.615" x 0.94' per year.
Girth: 7.69' (92.28") x 111' = 203 points. (December 2017) Grew 6.24" x 4.5' in 8 years or 0.78" x 0.56' per year.
Newly measured tree
7.47' (89.64") x 103.5' = 193 points. (December 2017)

I've measured 5 black walnuts throughout the park and the most impressive are listed below.
Height: 7.59' (91.08") x 109.5' = 201 points. (December 2008)
Height: 7.53' (90.36") x 109.5' = 200 points. (December 2008)
Points: 8.54' (102.48") x 103.5' = 206 points. (December 2008)
Girth: 9.85' (118.20") x 72' = 190 points. (December 2008)
I remeasured the first three trees.
Height: 8.48' (101.76") x 115.5' = 217 points. (December 2017) Grew 10.68" x 6' in 9 years or 1.19" x 0.67' per year.
Height: 8.72' (104.64") x 117' = 222 points. (December 2017) Grew 14.28" x 7.5' in 9 years or 1.59" x 0.83" per year.
Points: 9.06' (108.72") x 108' = 217 points. (December 2017) Grew 6.24" x 4.5' in 9 years or 0.69" x 0.50' per year. (Obviously this is no longer the points champion in the park.)
Here is a picture of this species at the edge of the fen.
Kensington 33.jpg
I only ever measured one white ash in the past. It was already dead. Emerald ash borers have devastated the ashes in this park and well beyond. The white ashes were once an important part of the upland forest.
8.48' (101.76") x 106.5' = 208 points. (December 2008)
Green ashes were also once quite common but they were found around the many wetlands in the park. I never got to measure any.

The elms, like the ashes have been devastated by foreign pests. However, unlike the ashes, some elms can survive for a while to reach fair size before getting hammered. Few make it beyond a foot in diameter and very few make it beyond a couple feet. Before DED I would have chosen American elm among the top ten species that I think of when I think of Kensington. I only measured one American elm just last year.
9.19' (110.28") x 102' = 212 points. (December 2017)
The nature center in Kensington Metropark has a large cookie of an American elm that is about 14.7' in girth but probably lower than 4.5' from the ground. It is said to have existed between 1861 to 1991. I'd like to get a picture and estimate girth growth over those 130 years. Slippery elm is possibly present in the park but I've not recognized it yet.

I measured 4 sassafras trees in Kensington and remeasured the tallest.
Height: 4.92' (59.09") x 88.5' = 148 points. (February 2008)
Girth: 6.41' (172.80") x 61.5' = 138 points. (Probably in February 2008)
Remeasured tree
Height: 5.60' (67.20") x 97.5' =165 points. (December 2017) Grew 8.11" x 9' in 10 years or 0.81" x 0.90' per year.

I've only ever measured one honeylocust tree in the park. This species is not native in Kensington but it has been very extensively planted throughout the park.
8.29' (99.48") x 84' = 183 points. (December 2017)
Below is a picture of this tree growing at the edge of an old field.
Kensington 29.jpg
Two tamaracks were measured before last year but both were bested by a couple that I measured last year.
Height: 4.48' (53.76") x 72' = 126 points. (December 2017)
Girth: 6.23' (74.76") x 42' = 117 points. (December 2017)
The taller tree is already dead. Larch sawflies frequently sweep through like wildfire and take a number of trees. Below is another picture of tamaracks but not any of the ones that I measured.
Kensington 30.jpg
I've only measured one eastern hophornbeam so far though I know of bigger ones. Here it is anyway.
2.96' (35.48") x 57' = 92 points. (Probably December 2008)

I also have only measured one serviceberry so far. I believe it is a downy serviceberry.
1.86' (22.32") x 51' = 73 points. (December 2017)

The final species that I've measured in the park is nannyberry. I've only measured two of them.
1.49' (17.88") x 34' 8" = 53 points. (December 2015)
I remeasured this tree late last year.
1.50' (18.00") x 33' 4" x 13.69' (average crown spread) = 54.8 points. (December 2017)
The drop in height is likely due to dieback of a leader that was probably the tallest two years ago. This dieback was due to oriental bittersweet which I cut to the ground.
Another nannyberry only about 8' to the north was also measured.
1.93' (23.16") x 27' 10" x 20.81' (average crown spread) = 56.2 points. (December 2017)
Below is a distant picture of nannyberries flowering along Wildwing Lake. This is the location of the two that were measured.
Kensington 18.jpg
A closer picture of a full tree but not one of those that I measured.
Kensington 19.jpg
A still closer picture of the flowers of yet another plant.
Kensington 20.jpg
This covers all the tree species that I've measured for Kensington Metropark but there are still more to measure. By the end of 2009 the top ten species that I knew about were:

Pignut Hickory (123')
Northern Red Oak (121.5')
Eastern Cottonwood (118.5')
Black Cherry (117')
Red Maple (117')
Basswood (112.5')
Black Oak (112.5')
Shagbark Hickory (112.5')
White Oak (111')
Swamp White Oak (109.5')
for an RH10 of 115.50'

Now it is:
Pignut Hickory (132')
Northern Red Oak (126')
Eastern Cottonwood (126')
Black Cherry (121.5')
Red Maple (120')
Basswood (120')
Black Walnut (117')
Black Oak (115.5')
Shagbark Hickory (115.5')
Bur Oak (114')
for an RH10 of 120.75'

Doug

Post Reply

Return to “Michigan”