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  • Old No. 103...

    Isn't standing any longer

    One of the tallest trees in NY, an Adirondack white pine, has fallen | NCPR News

  • #2
    350 years... they had a good run. I didn't know they were that old, I thought more like 200+.

    Makes Pine Orchard seem like saplings in comparison.


    • #3
      I visited the Elders Grove a few years ago, a wonderful place. I'm glad I made it before so many of them fell.


      • #4
        I've visited the stand a number of times of the years, first as a PSC student (the stand is frequently used for labs focusing on forest measurements), and thereafter have returned occasionally since graduating. I remember observing a decade ago that the massive pines were clearly starting to wane and that the end was not far for many of them.

        This also sort of brings up an interesting conversation from a semantics standpoint. To the layperson, "old growth" is old, big trees. But ask an ecologist to define "old growth," and you're more likely to get something along the lines of a forest that has progressed to a steady state in terms of dynamics... one which will appear the same ad infinitum, with a general composition and structure that remains unchanged over time (and in the absence of any major disturbance).

        It's generally surmised that the Elder's Grove is the product of a microburst that occurred some ~350 years ago. The towering pines were among first generation of trees to repopulate the area after the windstorm destroyed the previous overstory.

        But pines are pioneers and don't regenerate well beneath an existing canopy. If you look to the lower canopy levels of the Elder's Grove, you don't see very many pines, but rather more shade tolerant species- sugar maple, yellow birch, spruce and fir. Which brings up the question- if the composition and vertical structure of the stand is still actively changing as it ages, and if the forest will inevitably look considerably different 50 or 100 years from now in comparison to how it looks today- is it really "old growth?"


        • #5
          It's a good question, one I ran into years ago when asking a forest ecology teacher what was meant by "old growth".

          His answer was not quite either of what you stated, but more tending toward the latter. But he was also adamant to say it must include all ages of trees, from very young, to very, very old. (we often miss that really, really old component these days).

          I really like what some of the folks in NE Forests were using as "old growth characteristics". Makes sense to me as a user of the forest, and not necessarily a manager.

          Some things they include:

          Presence of pits and mounds from toppled trees.

          Presence of dead and downed trees as well as standing snags.

          A deep and intact duff layer.

          And of course, what my friend had said: Trees of all ages from very young, to very, very old.

          Those things made me think about the areas of the Adirondacks I'd been where I know it was virgin forest i.e. deep northern parts of Pigeon Lakes Wilderness. It just seemed like a mess to me. I didn't notice any "old" trees. Although I was probably completely wrong or didn't look well enough. Some really old trees aren't really exceptionally big, which is a misconception a lot of people tend to have. I certainly have noticed the duff layer - and I've noticed in a lot of areas in the Adirondacks. Not sure what that means in terms of forest age, but it's a good sign. The pits and mounds is a relatively new thing to me - I mean it's obvious, but I never gave it much thought. I always knew from riding my bike in the woods though that the forests I liked best had all these fun, natural undulations to them. I now think those are relatively undisturbed places in terms of past logging and agriculture.


          • #6
            I guess we're talking about what "civilians" like me call a climax forest? You're right, the stereotype of a cathedral-like space with regular, huge trunks & lots of empty space can't cover the whole category.

            Wessels talks about pits & mounds in _Reading the Forested Landscape_ but he calls them pillows & cradles.


            • #7
              I've noticed a number of really great, and interesting things using those few things I learned from Tom.

              Trails that I've hiked or ridden hundreds of times all the sudden "made sense" to me. Wow - look at all these young cherry trees. Hmm... a few really old "mother" sugar maples and thickets of maple saplings. Yup... this was a pasture not too long ago.


              • #8
                This article prompted me to think of this when they mentioned that a number of those trees had rotted from the inside.

                This, IIRC, is the biggest tree (in diameter with a single stem) at Pine Orchard. As you maybe can see, it's been excavated by animals. I'd assume that's probably the beginning of the end for it.

                Comparatively speaking, this stand isn't that old and it's lost a number of trees. Just because you are in amongst the big boys, doesn't mean you'll outlast them.

                The trees that actually look the best are somewhat less impressive, but still big. Ramrod straight - like a ship mast. Their bark doesn't have the huge furrows as some of the bigger trees - perhaps growing too fast is a detriment? It's nice and tight and looks younger than I'd expect it is. A few have dual crowns from weevils, and I'd guess the wind will take those before the singles. Especially as the stand starts to thin out. I seem to recall a number of Hemlocks growing in the understory, but I think that was maybe the northern side. I looked through some other pictures, and there looks be a lot of beech.
                Last edited by montcalm; 12-25-2021, 12:13 AM.


                • #9
                  The "old man" as we call it, is still standing, I believe, was once a contender for the largest, but it lost its top many feet after the 1995 derecho. it was in a once large grove of its nearly equally large brothers between Big Deer Pond and the Tri-County Marker, west of Lows Lake. It is the only remaining large survivor. I use it and the TCM as a map and ccompass land navigation challenge test for guide training.
                  Attached Files
                  "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman


                  • #10

                    This is that same Pine Orchard tree, the biggest single stem. I scaled it using my ski, and it's 4'4" dbh. Surprisingly smaller than I thought it was.

                    I love the bark on that one.

                    I visited Elder's when I was at PSC in 1998-99, but I don't think I ever went back. I only stayed for a year in EET before I decided it wasn't for me, but we never had any classes there. Was more freezing your a$$ off out on a frozen lake taking water samples and spending the rest of the day in a chem lab.
                    Last edited by montcalm; 12-25-2021, 11:03 AM.


                    • #11
                      I like to check this out from time to time...

                      Big Tree Register - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation


                      • #12
                        Monroe County Red Oak - 11'4" dbh!


                        • #13
                          I found a pretty massive white pine while bushwhacking in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest last weekend. A solid 4.5 - 5 feet wide at the base, probably a couple hundred feet tall or more. Wish I took a photo. Will try and find it again this winter, as a friend’s cabin is not too far away.


                          • #14
                            Justin - measure it at your chest height. Easiest way is a tape around the circumference.

                            I think, just from my observations of ADK white pines and references I've read:

                            3.5-4' diameter at chest height is common, 4'-4.5' is exceptional. 4.5'+ is not unheard of but probably not typical unless it has a multiple trunk.

                            I think in terms of height, 200' is probably the extreme end. I think 150' is common, 180' is exceptional.


                            • #15
                              Ok thanks. I will be sure to try & find it again. It’s located along a fairly steep slope somewhere in this general vicinity…