Adirondack Forum  
Rules Membership Donations and Online Store Adkhighpeaks Foundation ADKhighpeaks Forums ADKhighpeaks Wiki Disclaimer

Go Back   Adirondack Forum > The Adirondack Forum > General Adirondack Discussion
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-03-2021, 11:30 AM   #1
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
Beech trees: The villains of the forest?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaximusFunk24 View Post
I might add that Beech trees appear to be the villain of the forest, they will intentionally grow through the crown of competing trees and don't appear to value the "community" of the forest. If their aggressive nature wasn't enough, Beech trees (with a diameter of approx. 6'' or greater) are falling victim to some invasive species that leaves those pock marks all over their bark and eventually kills them. As a result the dying trees are spreading panic growth everywhere within their reach. At the same time many of the Maples that dominate the canopy in the Adirondacks are reaching the end of their lifespan (300ish yrs). It would be tragic if in several hundred years as the climate becomes less harsh, the Adirondacks became one dense Beech thicket. I would not shed a tear if some Beeches were cleared both for new skiing opportunities and to preserve the diversity of mixed hardwood forests.
I've come to understand what the issue is with the beech, and will try to outline it quickly for those who are interested. This affects nearly every forest in NY, and probably most of the northeast. It will probably be less of an issue in the Adirondacks due to less deer density, because they are one of the main issues.

It seems a rather interlinked and complicated problem but I think it can be boiled down into two main issues as well as some characteristics of the beech.

Beech has been affected by a bark disease which will kill most large trees. A few healthy beech remain, and you can tell a healthy one by its characteristic smooth, grey bark. If it has cankers, bumps and scale, it's dead or dying.

When beech die, they send out what are commonly known as "suckers", or root sprouts, in an attempt to save itself. Basically self cloning. A lot of trees can do this in various ways but beech is rather aggressive when dying. The sad part that the beech doesn't know is that its poor genes it is cloning are destined for the same fate as the dying main stem. But before that happens you end up with a dominating understory of beech saplings.

Here's the interaction though. Deer don't browse beech, or at least not enough to deter their growth. Maples OTOH are top tasty treats. So despite Maples trying to repopulate the understory, the deer take them out and the beech go on their "path of the lemming" using up resources on their way to their death.

In a nutshell, that's the issue - lots more detail, lots of presentations and reading out there if you look into this kind of stuff.

So in terms of forestry and land that is working forest, this is an even bigger issue because we, as humans, don't really value beech for much except firewood. And if it never makes it to maturity it's not even good for that. So lots of focus on how to manage logged land to keep deer from browsing the preferred species, mainly maple, but also oak, ash, basswood, etc...

There have been some experiments conducted in the western Adirondacks that clearly show a fenced off area heavily repopulated with yellow birch (which most of the large specimens are now at the end of their life) and non-fenced area remaining clear of trees... just ferns. Beech could probably also dominate but it seems in the Adirondacks even the deer are forced to eat the disgusting beech*. And this an area where deer density is very, very low, as is the case with most of the Adirondacks compared to the rest of NY.

*In those experiments it could also be that beech nuts aren't reaching the area and there are no stumps to stump sprout, the information wasn't clear on this.

To the point of MFs concern, it seems based on some data I've seen from surveys from both TNC and NYS that the Adirondacks have some of the best areas for forest regeneration. It also has a number of problem areas as well, but still large tracts of "healthy" forest that foresters expect to continue to mature nicely.

Last edited by montcalm; 04-08-2021 at 05:12 PM..
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2021, 05:10 PM   #2
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
As far as a single source, this presents the beech problem, but more related to managed forests. It also doesn't mention the beech regaining the bark disease, but to a managed forest the beech is worthless except as biofuel, so perhaps that's a moot point to them.

https://youtu.be/11TTog0Lgb4

On forest preserve, as I understand it, beech could dominate and shade other species that are being browsed as well. Then eventually you end up with a forest of sick beech.
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2021, 06:48 PM   #3
Tug Hill
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 265
The beech scale has been around for over 40 years, and I don’t see the disease killing all the beech. As the OP stated the beech tree is pretty prolific. Although many beech are dying, there are still plenty healthy beech in the overstory and understory.

As for value, first and foremost the mast they produce every several years are a valuable resource for many wildlife species. 2019 was the heaviest crop of beechnuts in northern NY I’ve seen in years. As for timber value, they are not as valuable as other hardwood species, but beech are easily marketable for pulpwood, biofuel, firewood, pallet stock, railroad ties, and crane mats, etc..

On the 250,000 acres of industrial timberlands inside the ADK Park ,the company I consulted for manages, the beech tree is heavily harvested. The intent is to release crop tree species of more value. Granted with the beech’s ability to sprout from the stump, in many cases this can be a double edged sword. However there is a school of thought that harvesting beech at certain times of year reduces root sprouting. But with that being said, our harvest prescription called for x amount of disease free beech left per acre as wildlife trees, and the hope they will produce mast with some genetic resistance to the scale.

I don’t see the American Beech tree as being a villain but if it is, it will not be on private land, or State Forest. Only Forest Preserve where it cannot be harvested.
Tug Hill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2021, 07:36 PM   #4
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
TH - the video I linked talks exactly about what you are referring to in eradicating the beech. Mostly by removing understory trees first, then going back and removing the overstory trees to keep them from suckering or stump sprouting.

I like the management idea of keeping a certain amount of healthy beech though. Both for mast and for biodiversity. Hopefully those that are healthy now will be immune to bark disease in the future.
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-03-2021, 09:12 PM   #5
Bunchberry
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 52
So Beech is the Tom Brady of ADK trees.

Control or Consequence: The Plague of American Beech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11TTog0Lgb4

Forest connect is a great youtube channel.
Bunchberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-04-2021, 08:31 AM   #6
geogymn
Member
 
geogymn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,005
In the forest I frequent it is hard to find a young sapling other than Beech. The Yellow Birch that are able to reach some size are soon girdled by the bucks.
I have been making a concerted effort to introduce Oak to my plot as a last resort. They seem to be doing well, slow, but well.
__________________
"A culture is no better than its woods." W.H. Auden
geogymn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2021, 06:44 PM   #7
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by geogymn View Post
In the forest I frequent it is hard to find a young sapling other than Beech. The Yellow Birch that are able to reach some size are soon girdled by the bucks.
I have been making a concerted effort to introduce Oak to my plot as a last resort. They seem to be doing well, slow, but well.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0RIjCmlSrg

That's worth watching.
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2021, 10:45 PM   #8
rickhart
Member
 
rickhart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Northampton, MA
Posts: 389
Beech is one of the natural climax species in NE forests. It's only a problem in tracts managed for lumber harvest where the foresters want to encourage other species. In a wild forest it would be natural for it to take over some areas. They're great for wildlife. The problem now is that not just beech, but several other climax species are endangered, e.g. maples & (in the right habitat) hemlock. And of course there's the ash borer. Climate change is helping this along, and will get worse. Things are likely to look very different in a few decades, but happily I won't be around then.
rickhart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 08:36 AM   #9
Tug Hill
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 265
American Beech is shade tolerant so it does well in the understory, so not necessarily a climax species. As for the Asian Longhorned Beetle , Emerald Ash Borer , and the Wooly Adelgid, they are a result of the global economy not climate change. Maples and hemlock are no way endangered at this point. Red/Soft Maple is the most abundant species in the Forests of NY.

What is even more threatening to the Ash tree, is the hysteria created by everyone with the Emerald Ash Borer. Even though not all areas are infested with this pest. Timberland owners are cutting every Ash tree in their Forest to cash in before, IF or when their Ash trees become infested. My advise to timberland owners that I consult for, is to keep a close eye on your Ash trees, inspect often for infestation. If they are mature enough for a harvest, and they are not infested, go ahead and do a selective cut. If immature and not infested let them grow. If infested then they have no choice but harvest all.
Tug Hill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 09:41 AM   #10
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
So are they villains or just misunderstood?

Seems to me it depends on your perspective.

If you're a forester it's those voracious deer that are the villains.

If you're a bear, fisher, marten, turkey? etc they seem like they are a very important part of your ecosystem.
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 04:27 PM   #11
bioguide
Member
 
bioguide's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Niskayuna, NY
Posts: 493
Quote:
Originally Posted by montcalm View Post
So are they villains or just misunderstood?

Seems to me it depends on your perspective.

If you're a forester it's those voracious deer that are the villains.

If you're a bear, fisher, marten, turkey? etc they seem like they are a very important part of your ecosystem.
Humans are the villains.
__________________
My YouTube channel
bioguide is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 05:12 PM   #12
St.Regis
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,466
Another big problem I see in areas where ash is getting infested by EAB is the opening of the canopy, which allows other invasives like buckthorn, honeysuckle, and multifora rose to go nuts. They create their own low, dense canopy, and that inhibits tree seedlings. Plus honeysuckle has an early leaf out and drops leaves late

Like a lot if people, I've seen places where beech suckers pop up en masse. But I've seen the same places years later where only a few taller poles remain in the understory. I'm guessing that they caught the sun and the other clones didn't
St.Regis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 06:11 PM   #13
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by bioguide View Post
Humans are the villains.
I don't disagree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by St.Regis View Post
Another big problem I see in areas where ash is getting infested by EAB is the opening of the canopy, which allows other invasives like buckthorn, honeysuckle, and multifora rose to go nuts. They create their own low, dense canopy, and that inhibits tree seedlings. Plus honeysuckle has an early leaf out and drops leaves late

Like a lot if people, I've seen places where beech suckers pop up en masse. But I've seen the same places years later where only a few taller poles remain in the understory. I'm guessing that they caught the sun and the other clones didn't
This is one big thing I've really gleaned from watching these forest connect webinars. A lot is targeted at foresters and land managers, but because they disrupt the forest and want to generate valuable species I've really learned a lot about how these disruptions let invasive in and how healthy, contiguous forests are more immune (Dr. Simmard touts the same theory).


Of course trees are not villains

Last edited by montcalm; 04-07-2021 at 06:23 PM..
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 06:22 PM   #14
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tug Hill View Post
American Beech is shade tolerant so it does well in the understory, so not necessarily a climax species. As for the Asian Longhorned Beetle , Emerald Ash Borer , and the Wooly Adelgid, they are a result of the global economy not climate change. Maples and hemlock are no way endangered at this point. Red/Soft Maple is the most abundant species in the Forests of NY.

What is even more threatening to the Ash tree, is the hysteria created by everyone with the Emerald Ash Borer. Even though not all areas are infested with this pest. Timberland owners are cutting every Ash tree in their Forest to cash in before, IF or when their Ash trees become infested. My advise to timberland owners that I consult for, is to keep a close eye on your Ash trees, inspect often for infestation. If they are mature enough for a harvest, and they are not infested, go ahead and do a selective cut. If immature and not infested let them grow. If infested then they have no choice but harvest all.
You're a forester, right, Tug Hill?

Do you happen to know of any map or map resource that shows statewide relative tree density per species? A map like that was shown for beech in the marten webinar but I'm curious about other species.

I found this very excellent guide for the Finger Lakes Region - I'd love to find similar things for the rest of the state.

https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstre...pdf?sequence=1
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 07:01 PM   #15
geogymn
Member
 
geogymn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,005
Quote:
Originally Posted by St.Regis View Post
Another big problem I see in areas where ash is getting infested by EAB is the opening of the canopy, which allows other invasives like buckthorn, honeysuckle, and multifora rose to go nuts. They create their own low, dense canopy, and that inhibits tree seedlings. Plus honeysuckle has an early leaf out and drops leaves late

Like a lot if people, I've seen places where beech suckers pop up en masse. But I've seen the same places years later where only a few taller poles remain in the understory. I'm guessing that they caught the sun and the other clones didn't
I started planting a hedgerow across a farm field just over 30 years ago. Planted all kinds of trees and shrubs. I was in a constant battle with the buckthorn, multiflora rose, and honeysuckle . The mice, rabbits, and deer played havoc with the seedling survival rate. And then when the survivors started reaching for the sky the bucks would girdle the proudest.
So instead of killing the multiflora rose I transplanted them to the base of my trees to protect them from the deer and mower. I trashed all my grow tubes because the rose are working for me and the tubes not so much.
The hedgerow has become an eclectic collection that is fun to watch. I have some trees that are 50 ft tall (Poplar).
Each time I come across a big tree in the forest I wonder its story, maybe a tree in my hedgerow may cause some wonderment.
__________________
"A culture is no better than its woods." W.H. Auden
geogymn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 08:50 PM   #16
Tug Hill
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 265
Montcalm, Yes I am a Forester, for the last 15 years I have worked as a Consultant Forester for the largest timberland manager in NY. 250,000 of those acres inside the ADK Park. But I worked on the 30,000 acres on Tug Hill. Prior to that job I worked for LandVest on property they manage inside the park. Currently I am semi- retired but still do some consulting for local small timberland owners.

I don’t know of such maps you inquire about, but I’m sure NYSDEC Foresters might have the answer. We developed our own Forest type maps on the property we managed , through boots on the ground prism cruises. They are broken down to dominant species , stocking density, diameter classes,site quality, and type, flowed lands, bog, streamside management zones ,etc..
Tug Hill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2021, 09:13 PM   #17
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
Thanks TH - I'll keep looking. I'm sure the state has the data and I'm betting it's publicly accessible if I can find it.
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-2021, 07:29 AM   #18
geogymn
Member
 
geogymn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,005
Quote:
Originally Posted by montcalm View Post
Got it, thanks! I will watch it as time allows. Much obliged.
__________________
"A culture is no better than its woods." W.H. Auden
geogymn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2021, 03:16 PM   #19
RipVanWinkle
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 58
I've noticed that it's hard to find a nice mature beech in the ADK anymore; they all have the Beech Bark Disease whereas downstate in the hudson valley there are still many impressive specimens still around. Different genetics possibly? Beech is my favorite tree for personal nostalgic reasons, but I also really like it for firewood.
RipVanWinkle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2021, 06:22 PM   #20
montcalm
Mobster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,691
RVW - the data I've seen says about 1% of beech are resistant to the disease. No idea how that is distributed. European Beech was introduced LONG ago, in the 1700s, so there are some monsters around. They seem less impacted by beech disease and more by grafitti. I tend to see them around Rochester in parks and campuses. I'm sure they're in other parts of NY.




There's a lot of small beech in NY. Reports estimate between 1-2 BILLION saplings.
montcalm is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:47 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.

DISCLAIMER: Use of these forums, and information found herein, is at your own risk. Use of this site by members and non-members alike is only granted by the adkhighpeak.com administration provided the terms and conditions found in the FULL DISCLAIMER have been read. Continued use of this site implies that you have read, understood and agree to the terms and conditions of this site. Any questions can be directed to the Administrator of this site.