Riverdale Park and the Raoul Wallenberg Forest, Bronx

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Erik Danielsen
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Riverdale Park and the Raoul Wallenberg Forest, Bronx

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:09 pm

Riverdale Park lines most of the western edge of the Bronx, maintaining a strip of green along the hudson nearly all the way up to Yonkers. At the southern end of the park, there's also a small area of woodland across the road climbing the hill- the Raoul Wallenberg Forest. Aside from the road, these form one contiguous forest so I'll be reporting on them together. On the exceptionally rainy afternoon of April 7, I crossed the Henry Hudson bridge from Inwood Hill (the pedestrian walkway for the bridge begins in the park), then walked a few blocks to the Raoul Wallenberg forest.

This small forest is a fascinating mixture of pioneer species like black locust and black birch with some extremely large intermediate forms of white oak, tuliptree, and red oak, with several generations of red oak and younger tuliptrees also frequent. Due to the weather I didn't measure or photograph any of these, but I was extremely impressed by the gnarled, spreading forms. Some of the locust and black birch may also be reasonably tall.

Crossing the street, I headed down to the edge of the hudson through a similar forest of young red oak, black locust, etc. I was looking for cottonwoods. Where the ground finally leveled, right next to the metro-north railroad tracks, I finally encountered a nice trio of cottonwoods. The rain had lightened up enough to take some height measurements. The biggest, an intermediate growth form around 3'dbh, came to 104.3'.

Heading back up the first tier of the sloping bank I came to a trail running north. I took this for a while, and encountered quite a lot of nice black oaks, white oaks, and swamp white oaks. Red oak seemed minimal in that section. Turning back around, I reached a point just above the cottonwoods down on the bank and there stood a cluster of nearly a dozen very well-formed, forest-grown Cottonwoods running between 2-3'dbh. The rain was light enough for both measurements and a picture, and I measured some adjacent black locust as well.
Black Locust
The cluster of tall cottonwoods.
The cluster of tall cottonwoods.
Heading further south I entered a seemingly older section of forest with some very large tuliptrees and red oaks, and even a little beech. The Spuyten Duyvil Giant Tuliptree and its adjacent stand of tall trees I reported on previously is undoubtedly a remnant from when this older stand extended further south, prior to being divided up and partially cleared for the construction of homes. I'm hoping that exploring more of the floodplain north of what I explored might yield further tall cottonwoods and some sycamores- the only sycamore I encountered was uphill and not tall.

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