Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

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

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:31 pm

I'm glad Greg got to this question first because he did a great job answering it. I just wanted to mention that the four regional ecosystems of Michigan (the ones taken from the tree and shrub books) are based on climate, landform, soil and vegetation. There is no way to make a perfect black and white map of any large region and say that x, y and z species only occurs in this region while a, b and c species only occurs in that region. White pine certainly exists in the Southern Lower Peninsula, for example, but compared to the Northern Lower Peninsula, especially in the past, the presence of white pine is a drop in the bucket. In other words, the sites where white pine is present in the Southern Lower Peninsula are the exceptions that prove the rule. Anybody driving through Michigan would have to be completely turned off to the natural world to not notice these broad differences in plants, animals and other organisms while moving from South to North or vice-versa. Any person should also quite easily be able to see the moderating influence of the Lakes as well, especially along the long eastern side of Lake Michigan or on any peninsula jutting out into any of the Great Lakes. The dominance of agriculture in the Southern Lower Peninsula is perhaps the best evidence that people do very much understand the importance of climate, soil, landform, etc. on plant growth. And the many orchards and vineyards along Lake Michigan say everything you need to know about the moderating influence of that Great Lake.

One more thing that should be pointed out is that just because a species doesn't grow somewhere doesn't mean that it can't. I'm sure that tamarack would much rather prefer to grow in the well-drained, rich upland soils in Kensington rather than remaining relegated to the fens. But how well would it compete against species like black cherry or white oak and would it compare favorably to bur oak in a fire?

Doug

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

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:33 pm

As an occasional visitor to Kensington Metropark Doug's descriptions and documentation have really enriched my visits. In April of 2018 I hit the park with my tape and laser to check out a few of Doug's superlatives for the park. I measured pretty casually and in locating the tallest Pignut, Black Cherry, Red Maple, and Bur Oak I was able to confirm that Doug is really good at finding the tops of trees shooting straight-up with a nikon 440. My measurements were generally within a foot, so without putting the 200LR on a tripod to get really precise I won't add any "alternative" figures.
When I visited the tallest Bur Oak a pair of Wood Ducks was cruising around its crown looking for nest-worthy cavities.
When I visited the tallest Bur Oak a pair of Wood Ducks was cruising around its crown looking for nest-worthy cavities.
The one exception the tallest Cottonwood Doug reported that ekes out a few more feet of height, at 129.4' tall. My measurement was made from some uphill and distance out from the tree, which may have been more opportune to find the absolute top. I got 8.79'cbh, more or less identical to Doug's measurement just a few months earlier, in spite of a large ground level difference on different sides of the tree- It's reassuring when our shared methodology plays out on the ground to yield consistent results.
The same Hill's Oak with its leaves off.
The same Hill's Oak with its leaves off.
Visiting the Hill's Oak in the prarie patch was great, and I did note the hairier-than-typical winter buds. Interestingly where I live in WNY there is only Q. rubra present, but in certain environments they typically have much hairier buds and more variable leaves than the species as described, which have made me wonder about some cryptic velutina influence left over from a previous climate period. To see a similar possible circumstance with ellipsoidalis does keep the wheels turning.
Black Maple leaves
Black Maple leaves
The characteristic pubescence of Black Maple. Sugar maple leaves can be variably have some thin hairiness especially near the base of the leaf where the veins intersect, but the hairs of black maple are stiff and erect and occur on both the veins and blade of the leaf, and most importantly on the petioles. Leaves that sit in damp litter can lose their pubescence pretty quickly, but I lucked out with these in the slope's dry leaf litter.
The characteristic pubescence of Black Maple. Sugar maple leaves can be variably have some thin hairiness especially near the base of the leaf where the veins intersect, but the hairs of black maple are stiff and erect and occur on both the veins and blade of the leaf, and most importantly on the petioles. Leaves that sit in damp litter can lose their pubescence pretty quickly, but I lucked out with these in the slope's dry leaf litter.
I can also confirm Black Maple as growing in the park. The small specimen I encountered was growing among other spontaneous trees below an older oak-hickory canopy (including bur oak) on a slope just above a small wetland. A long line of larger, more open-grown oaks in the woods behind it may mark the edge of an old pasture, with the strip of trees on the other side lining the wetland perhaps fenced off and used as a woodlot? Either way the leaves were quite distinct with the Acer nigrum texture and hairiness, shape, etc. The bark and form were also consistent with similarly size black maples I see (especially on floodplains) in WNY.
Young black maple bark- with a uniform knobbly texture at the small scale, with numerous tight vertical fissures.
Young black maple bark- with a uniform knobbly texture at the small scale, with numerous tight vertical fissures.
I haven't really visited much outside the dormant season yet, but did note some nice herbaceous species on a visit in early may, including Purple Bittercress and Swamp Lousewort which are both rare in my home region.
Purple Bittercress (Cardamine douglassi)
Purple Bittercress (Cardamine douglassi)

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

Re: Kensington Metropark, Michigan

Post by DougBidlack » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:07 am

Erik,

very nice. I'm looking forward to checking out the black maples. I must confess that I never looked closely at the 'hard maples' of Kensington and this was in part due to the fact that they always did look odd to me and I was very uncertain of how to ID black maples vs sugar maples. I do think that most (perhaps all) of the planted trees are sugar maples but I wonder about some of the older plantings by people that once owned homes in what is now the park. The only 'sugar' maple that I measured is one such older planting. I'm curious if it is actually a sugar maple. It's also nice to see you checking out the smaller plants that I know very little about. Also, thanks for the better measurement for the cottonwood. Were any of my measurements too high? I've found a couple of my recent straight up shots to be slightly high (only 2-3 inches).

Doug

Post Reply

Return to “Michigan”