Northwoods in Bolton

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#1)  Northwoods in Bolton

Postby a_blooming_botanist » Sun May 08, 2016 11:37 pm

Known to the Bolton Conservation Commission as the Northwoods Core Conservation Area, and to me as the woods on the other side of the road from where I live, this site includes the headwaters of an unnamed tributary of Great Brook and the surrounding woodlands. For the past week or so I have been wandering these woods, bouncing laser pulses off of unsuspecting treetops, and trying to take in the full extent of the woody plant diversity here. What I have compiled so far is by no means a complete representation of these woods, but it’s what I’ve got and I thought I’d share it with you all.

Here is a summary of the largest individual(s) of the tree species I’ve looked at so far. In cases where I didn’t want to measure the girth of a tree covered in poison ivy, I’ve substituted the CBH value with “P.I.”

Pinus strobus
8.3 x 120.8’
6.8 x 120.3’

Pinus rigida
3.2 x 67.8’

               
                       
Slouchy pitch pine.jpg
                       
Bob, this tree IS a slouch.
               
               

Tsuga canadensis
9.1 x 108’

               
                       
108' Tsuga 120.8' Pinus.jpg
                       
The 108-foot hemlock and 120.8-foot white pine in a gentle breeze.
               
               

Carya glabra
7.4 x 112.1’
4.6 x 108.8’

               
                       
112.1-foot hickory.jpg
                       
This hickory will smoke you.
               
               

Acer saccharum
8.5 x 93.1’
8.5 x 90.6'

Platanus occidentalis
10 x 95.9’

Populus grandidentata
3.5 x 96.8’

Ostrya virginiana
3.4 x 69.1’

Betula papyrifera
2.6 x 78.1’

Betula alleghaniensis
3.4 x 83.4’
2.2 x 83.2'

Betula lenta
3.9 x 98.8’
4.2 x 98.7’

               
                       
Black birch bark.jpg
                       
Nice display of young black birch bark in the upper right, middle-aged bark lower on the same trunk, and old bark on the left trunk.
               
               

Quercus rubra
5 x 104.3’

               
                       
5 x 104.3' Quercus rubra.jpg
                                       
               

Quercus alba
6.4 x 84.5’

Quercus velutina
7.1 x 93.1’

Prunus serotina
2.9 x 96.6’
3.5 x 91’

Fraxinus pennsylvanica
P.I. x 93.6’
6.3 x 92.5’
7.4 x 89.2’

Fraxinus americana
P.I. x 114.4’
7.6 x 114.5’
P.I. x 114.6’

               
                       
Fraxinus americana Jack, Queen, King.jpg
                       
From left to right: the white ash Jack (114.4'), Queen (114.5'), and King (114.6').
               
               

Collecting this data has helped me to work on my rangefinder/clinometer/sine method technique, as well as to notice tree species that I did not know were lurking among the others. Black oak, for instance, was brought to my attention when I came upon a tree that struck me as “a red oak that isn’t quite a red oak.” I also had to work on teasing apart the green ash from the white ash, which both happen to be growing in the same wetland area. After taking photographs through my spotting scope, collecting fallen branches and leaflets, and acquiring a leafy twig from low on the trunk of a green ash whose top snapped off, I feel confident that I’ve correctly identified these two very similar species. What made the biggest difference in the end was having height measurements – white ash is the taller of the two species.

I will keep collecting tree measurements from these woods as the leaves come in and I get more on which to base my IDs. Gotta measure some more white oaks, maybe some more reds and blacks, focus a bit more on red maple, yellow birch, white pine, and of course, try like hell to find that 100-foot black birch! Then maybe I’ll see how the witch hazel, spicebush, hawthorn, viburnum, and hornbeam (Carpinus) are doing.

Jared
Last edited by a_blooming_botanist on Fri May 13, 2016 8:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#2)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby ElijahW » Mon May 09, 2016 6:31 am

Jared,

Nice job.  This woodland seems to be pretty even-aged.  Is that an accurate assumption?  Green and white ash gave me trouble for a long time, but once you've seen a lot of each, separating the two becomes much easier.  Green ash prefers wetter soil, and the leaves appear shiny, while White ash is found more upland, and the leaf bottoms appear, well, white.  Black ash is the easiest to tell apart due to its thick twigs and "corky" bark, but it's also not that common.  The southern Biltmore ash is a species I've not seen in person, but Brian Beduhn has posted some recent photos of it.  

Keep up the good work,

Elijah
"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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#3)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby dbhguru » Mon May 09, 2016 7:59 am

Jared,

  Great post and congrats on the confirmations. You certainly got my attention with those two BBs. I'll lay money on your eventually breaking 100 in eastern Mass.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest

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#4)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby RayA » Mon May 09, 2016 8:26 am

dbhguru wrote:Great post and congrats on the confirmations. You certainly got my attention with those two BBs. I'll lay money on your eventually breaking 100 in eastern Mass.


Jared... just remember-- if you do break 100 on the birch, then you owe Bob a banana split in celebration; but if you don't break 100, then you owe Bob a banana split to cure his depression.

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#5)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby Erik Danielsen » Mon May 09, 2016 9:47 am

Jared, my experience in finding tall black birch over here is that the tallest specimen is rarely one of the aged or upright- in several cases now, the tallest birch at a given site is one that's relatively thin and smooth-barked, often with its trunk at an angle or forming a gentle s-curve, with just a small high-starting flag of a crown that's been thrust into a small gap between the canopies of more conventionally tall trees. One site in particular has not a single black birch exceeding 90' except for this singular individual of the form described, punching up through the red oak canopy to top out a little taller than the most of the oaks themselves at 104'! It seems that somewhere in the genetic coding of black birch is the capacity, when conditions are right, to grow as a sinuous light-seeking missile.

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#6)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby bbeduhn » Mon May 09, 2016 4:10 pm

Erik,
I haven't noticed that for black birch in the Southern Apps. but will look for it in the future. Here, the tallest ones seem to be very straight but then most species are nice and straight, especially in second growth. In old growth forests, I notice more opportunism and sinewy forms. Different regions grow trees differently. White pine would be an exception as it grows similarly and to comparable heights across its range.
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#7)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby a_blooming_botanist » Wed May 11, 2016 12:20 pm

ElijahW wrote:Jared,

Nice job.  This woodland seems to be pretty even-aged.  Is that an accurate assumption?  Green and white ash gave me trouble for a long time, but once you've seen a lot of each, separating the two becomes much easier.  Green ash prefers wetter soil, and the leaves appear shiny, while White ash is found more upland, and the leaf bottoms appear, well, white.  Black ash is the easiest to tell apart due to its thick twigs and "corky" bark, but it's also not that common.  The southern Biltmore ash is a species I've not seen in person, but Brian Beduhn has posted some recent photos of it.  

Keep up the good work,

Elijah


Elijah –

I wish I could give a more informed answer to your question about the age of this woodland. What I can say is that there do not appear to be any areas with trees that stand out as markedly younger or older than those in other parts of the site. All throughout these woods there seems to be a range from small, young trees to tall, stout, mature individuals. What little I have read about this piece of land referred to the open space lot of a new housing development (a ~38-acre portion of the woods) as “mature hardwood forest.” The fact that there are only scattered individuals of pioneer species indicates to me that anthropogenic disturbance hasn’t played a large role in shaping the landscape in the recent past. Judging by the amount of large rocks in the soil, I think it’s also safe to say that this bit of land has never been tilled.

Although this doesn’t pertain so much to the natural history of these woods, I read that this portion of town was first owned by Josiah Whetcomb (a variant spelling of Whitcomb), who built the first European-style house within the borders of modern-day Bolton in 1680-81, and whose son’s birth in 1681, that of Hezekiah, was the first to be recorded. The foundation of this house is all that remains at the intersection of Sugar Road and Golden Run Road (shown with a red asterisk on the attached map). I’ve also shown with a red star where the Doctress (the 122.5-foot white pine by I-495) lives. She remains the tallest tree I’ve measured in this town.

               
                       
GoogleEarth - Northwoods, Bolton.jpg
                       
Northwoods, Bolton, MA.
               
               

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#8)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby a_blooming_botanist » Wed May 11, 2016 11:23 pm

Erik Danielsen wrote:Jared, my experience in finding tall black birch over here is that the tallest specimen is rarely one of the aged or upright- in several cases now, the tallest birch at a given site is one that's relatively thin and smooth-barked, often with its trunk at an angle or forming a gentle s-curve, with just a small high-starting flag of a crown that's been thrust into a small gap between the canopies of more conventionally tall trees. One site in particular has not a single black birch exceeding 90' except for this singular individual of the form described, punching up through the red oak canopy to top out a little taller than the most of the oaks themselves at 104'! It seems that somewhere in the genetic coding of black birch is the capacity, when conditions are right, to grow as a sinuous light-seeking missile.

bbeduhn wrote:Erik,
I haven't noticed that for black birch in the Southern Apps. but will look for it in the future. Here, the tallest ones seem to be very straight but then most species are nice and straight, especially in second growth. In old growth forests, I notice more opportunism and sinewy forms. Different regions grow trees differently. White pine would be an exception as it grows similarly and to comparable heights across its range.
Brian


Erik, Brian,

I'm not sure I have enough experience to compare growth forms of black birches in old growth versus second growth forest, or in New England versus the southern Appalachians. What seems to make intuitive sense to me is that the tallest individuals will be those who have had no other choice in life but to book it toward whatever light trickles through a gap in the canopy. Their resources will be directed primarily toward vertical growth, with only minimal horizontal expansion in girth and spread.

Of course, what I have found in the limited sampling that I've done here doesn't fit what my intuition tells me should be the case. Let's just say I haven't measured enough of these trees here to adequately represent the species. I've measured five black birches, so I'll show you what a few of them look like.

These are the tallest two that I've measured. I honestly didn't expect them to be so close to 100' considering how thick they are (3.9 x 98.8', 4.2 x 98.7').

               
                       
paired 98-foot BBs - base.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
paired 98-foot BBs - looking up.jpg
                                       
               

This tree is the third tallest I've bagged so far at 3.6 x 97.8'.

               
                       
3.6 x 97.8 BB - full.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
3.6 x 97.8 BB - looking up.jpg
                                       
               

The black birch with the most girth that I've had the pleasure of measuring is this one with 68.5 inches CBH standing 91.2 feet tall. What this individual tells me about this species, at this site at least, is that 90 feet is no problem for Betula lenta. It's those next 10 feet that are a real stretch.

               
                       
5.7 x 91.2 BB - full.jpg
                                       
               

Just for the sake of completeness, I'll mention that the fifth black birch that I've measured is 92.5 feet tall with 35.75 inches of girth.

Jared
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#9)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby ElijahW » Thu May 12, 2016 9:48 pm

Jared,

Thanks for sharing that history.  I don't know my family's geneology as well as I should, but you're right about the variant spelling.  One of my aunts is a member of the Mayflower Society, which took a lot of work, but I think the Whitcomb line didn't arrive in New England until later in the 1630s.  I'll have to look into the Bolton connection, now that you've gotten me curious.  Thanks again,

Elijah
"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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#10)  Re: Northwoods in Bolton

Postby a_blooming_botanist » Mon May 16, 2016 11:23 pm

Well, a little over a week has passed since my first report and things are looking a lot greener in these woods. My newest measurements help to add to what I had gathered for the species already represented in my posts here, as well as to better represent the diversity of this forest. I see no reason to withhold any of my numbers, so here are the newest species followed by the others with all measured individuals listed below (including those mentioned in previous posts).

Carpinus caroliniana
1.4’ (measured 44.5" off ground, below lowest branch) x 29.3’
1.5’ x 27.7’
0.8’ x 23.8’
1.2’ x 17.9’
0.3’ x 13.8’

Sassafras albidum
3.0’ x 77.6’
2.4’ x 77.4’
2.8’ x 77.3’
4.3’ x 66.7’

Pinus strobus
8.3’ x 120.8’
6.8’ x 120.3’
6.6’ x 118.8’
9.8’ x 113.0’
4.9’ x 106.9’

Pinus rigida
3.5' x 79.4’
3.7' x 75.4’
3.2’ x 67.8’

Tsuga canadensis
9.1’ x 108’
7.4’ x 100.1’

Carya glabra
7.4’ x 112.1’
4.6’ x 108.8’
3.8’ x 106.2’
6.5’ x 102.7’
2.8’ x 99.9’
6.5’ x 99.3’ (leaning)

Acer saccharum
6.5’ x 94.8’
8.5’ x 94.4’
8.5’ x 90.6’
4.9’ x ≥90’

Acer rubrum
P.I. x 94.3’
3.7’ x 91.4’
P.I. x 88.3’

Platanus occidentalis
10’ x 95.9’

Populus grandidentata
3.5’ x 96.8’

Ostrya virginiana
3.4’ x 69.1’

Tilia americana
3.1' x 82.8'

Betula papyrifera
2.6’ x 78.1’
1.9’ x 72.5’
4.3’ x 66.4’

Betula alleghaniensis
3.4’ x 83.4’
2.2’ x 83.2’

Betula lenta
3.9’ x 98.8’
4.2’ x 98.7’
3.6’ x 97.8’
3.0’ x 92.5’
P.I. x 91.7’
5.7’ x 91.2’

Quercus rubra
5’ x 104.3’
7.1’ x 97.1’
8.0’ x 95.7’
8.4’ x 95.1’

Quercus alba
5.5’ x 92.2’
13.2’ x 91.4’ (wolf tree)
6.3’ x 87.3’
10.8’ x 85.6’ (fused wolf trees)
6.4’ x 84.5’

Quercus velutina
7.1’ x 93.1’
7.4’ x 90.2’
6.4’ x 84.7’ (leaning)

Prunus serotina
2.9’ x 96.6’
3.5’ x 91’
4.2’ x 81.4’
3.1’ x 80.4’

Fraxinus pennsylvanica
P.I. x 93.6’
6.3’ x 92.5’
2.9’ (measured 48” off ground) x 89.9’
6.8’ x 89.2’
P.I. x 84’

Fraxinus americana
P.I. x 114.4’
7.6’ x 114.5’
P.I. x 114.6’

I still haven't hit 100' on a black birch or 130' on a white pine, and I may not in these woods. I have focused my search for tall trees in the low-lying areas, which has kept me mostly in the southern portion of these woods. Just in the past week I noticed a small stand of sassafras trees, so now that species is represented in my dataset. Growing in their vicinity are also four (or three-ish) old white oak trees that clearly began their lives in an open environment but later had to adapt when younger trees began springing up around them – wolf trees. I say "four or three-ish" because two of the white oaks fused into a giant living mass of wood and bark. Here are two pictures of it/them:

               
                       
Fused white oak wolves - base.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
Fused white oak wolves - looking up.jpg
                                       
               


The biggest, discernably-single stem white oak wolf tree that I found is this guy. Hands down the girthiest white oak I've measured in here, and also the second tallest.

               
                       
13.2' x 91.4' white oak wolf - from afar.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
13.2' x 91.4' white oak wolf - base.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
13.2' x 91.4' white oak wolf - base 2.jpg
                                       
               


In another part of the woods I found another pair of old white oaks that had fused, but in this case one had fallen. Looking at the base of the trunk from one side it's not evident that there was any fusion, so I was scratching my head for a minute when I saw bark on what I thought was the inside of the tree. Have a look.

               
                       
White oaks - cryptic fusion.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
White oaks - obvious fusion.jpg
                                       
               


Lastly, I'll show this stunt that only a hornbeam and a handful of other species could pull off. The lowest six feet of one trunk was split in half and the tree is horizontal for 28.5 feet, but it's fine. Incidentally, standing right next to this acrobatic individual (and visible in the pictures) is the one that stands 27.7 feet tall.

               
                       
Hornbeam magic 1.jpg
                                       
               

               
                       
Hornbeam magic 2.jpg
                                       
               


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