Old Growth
NY Map
Green Lake from Reef Point
Green Lakes State Park
Fayetteville, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 11/17/01

Green Lakes
State Park

NY Route 5
Fayetteville, New York

Second Survey Team Visit
December 16, 2001

Team Leader: Bob Henry
Assistant: Tom Howard
Survey Report by: Tom Howard
Data Sheet

On December 16, 2001, Robert Henry and I returned to the old growth forest on the flat bench in the valley southwest of Round Lake. The site's old growth character is further confirmed by bright green moss covering many large fallen logs, lofty trees, high canopy, balding bark, massively developed pit-and-mound topography, and elder trees of several species.

This is easily the most magnificent forest we've ever seen in central New York. Few places in this area have trees of such great size, height and age.

Some Tuliptrees seem to be 80-90 feet to the first branch. Towering Tuliptrees abound, lifting their lofty crowns atop the most perfectly straight, tall and massive trunks I have ever seen in central New York. On 12/16 we found some trees even larger than those seen on 11/17 and 11/23, and some of the Tuliptrees appear to be 140-150 feet tall!
John Livingston
Green Lakes State Park

Central NY Survey Team
Bob Henry

106 Highland Av.
North Syracuse, NY 13212

Tom Howard
700 Sandra Lane #F71
North Syracuse, NY 13212

This is the oldest forest we have yet seen in Onondaga County. The average age of this grove's canopy seems to be 250-300 years old, with the oldest trees definitely well over 300 years old, and the oldest of all—the Hemlocks—should be at least 400-450 years old, and likely the oldest trees in Onondaga County.
Average dbh of all trees
34 inches
Average dbh of all Tuliptrees
36.5 inches
Average dbh of all Hemlocks
33.2 inches

Many of the ancient treefall pits are huge—up to and over 40 inches deep and 20 feet wide. And giant 300+-year-old trees grow out of treefall mounds. Only the section seen 11/17/01 has little pit and mound topography.

The Hemlock-Tuliptree association in this area is quite rare, and seems to be primarily a type of Southern Appalachian cove forest. The Green Lakes State Park stand is about 5-6 acres, with associate species Sugar Maple, Beech, Red Oak, Yellow Birch, Basswood, Bitternut Hickory, and Hophornbeam. The grove at Green Lakes State Park is also a sheltered cove near the northern edge of the Appalachian Plateau, and within 40 miles of the Tuliptree's northern limit. Tuliptrees of this size so close to the northern limit of the species are most unusual.
Old Growth Signs
at Round Lake upper valley site

Large, old trees
Saplings and seedlings
Six trees/acre over 150 years
Giant trees
Shaggy or balding bark
Spiral trunks, buttress roots
Straight, tall trunks
Irregular canopy outline
Pit and mound topography
Fallen trees
Fungi and mosses
Minimal human disturbance

extremely abundant
yes, way more than that
extremely abundant
very abundant, all Tuliptrees have balding bark
very abundant, Tuliptrees branchless up to 90 feet
highly developed except area surveyed 11/17/01
extremely abundant in varying states of decay
very abundant
appears mostly undisturbed

In the authoritative Old Growth in the East: A Survey by Mary Byrd Davis (1993), only four old growth sites dominated by Hemlock-Tuliptree are listed; all four sites are Appalachian coves. The other four old growth Hemlock-Tuliptree sites are:

  • Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve, South Carolia (Davis, p. 81)
  • Albright Grove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee (Davis, p. 82)
  • Tight Hollow Research Natural Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky (Davis, p. 96): over 72 acres with "trees as old as 221 years." Tuliptrees reach 59 inches dbh, and Hemlock 39.3 inches dbh, along with large Beech (39 inch dbh), White Pine (39 inch dbh), Cucumbertree, Red Maple (20 inch dbh), Basswood, Black Birch, and Bigleaf Magnolia (largest in U.S.).
  • Sheick Hollow Nature Preserve, Hocking County, Ohio (Davis, p. 98): 8 acres

Green Lakes State Park has at least four other sites that support old growth, with trees over 200 years old. But none of these trees even approach the size of the giants in the Tuliptree grove southwest of Round Lake. These other sites are:
Tulip Poplar Grove
Green Lakes State Park
Fayetteville, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 11/17/01

Community Forester Tom Howard admires the
soaring 140-foot canopy of the Tuliptrees

  1. Reef Point on Green Lake: White Cedars
      Fred Breglia counted 169 rings on a White Cedar stump on 11/17. Bob Henry and I confirmed this is an old growth site on 12/16. Trees examined:
    • White Cedar, small stump: 90 rings
    • Big stump (Tuliptree?), 15 inchradius, hollow center, 106 rings on outer 6 inches, estimated age = 280 years
    • White Cedar stump, 8 inch radius: 120 rings
    • White Cedar, old stump, 10 inch radius, hollow center, 125 rings on outer 5 inches, estimated age = 265 years
    • White Cedar next to trail (healthy) and stump above: 19.1 dbh
    • White Cedar stump, 15 inch radius, 154 rings, estimated age = 170 years
  2. Between Green & Round Lakes: Hemlocks and Hardwoods
      I examined this ravine forest on 3/27/99, and counted 170 rings on a Sugar Maple stump. There are also some old trees in the mostly second-growth forest on the north shore of Round Lake, including:
    • White Cedar stump, 8 inch radius, hollow center, 114 rings on outer 3.5 inches, estimated age = 275 years
    • Red Oak stump, 37 inch radius, 144 rings, estimated age = 160 years
    • Dominant trees: Hemlock, Sugar Maple, Basswood (large), Beech, White Ash, Yellow Birch (large), Tuliptree, Hophornbeam
    • Pit and mound topography abundant
  3. Round Lake southwest shore, steep slope: Tuliptree, Hemlock, Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Basswood
      This is an impressive stand, dominated by large, straight, tall Tuliptrees—up to three foot dbh, and easily up to 110 feet tall. These Tuliptrees are less impressive than the giant Tuliptrees in the grove southwest of Round Lake, but they are still a magnificent sight. They should be at least 150 years old. Associated with the Tuliptrees are large Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Basswood, and Hemlock. On 11/23/01, I counted 190 rings on a seven inch radius cross-section of a Hemlock log, estimated age = about 250 years.
    Potential Onondaga County Champion Trees
    at Green Lakes State Park
    Speciesdbh (inches)location
    White Pine
    Bitternut Hickory
    south end, Green Lake
    southwest of Round Lake
    southwest of Round Lake
    southwest of Round Lake
    southwest of Round Lake
    southwest of Round Lake
    southeast of bench
  4. Round Lake east shore: Hemlock, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, other hardwoods
      This is a primeval-looking area beginning at the lake shore and climbing steep slopes above Round Lake. The trees are not very large due to poor lighting, as the steep slopes surrounding the lake keep the area in shadow much of the day. Old Hemlocks dominate the site, and they often have the ruddy, platy bark that is a sign of age. Ancient treefall pit and mound topography is also very abundant. Other trees include: Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple (large), Tuliptree (few), and Hophornbeam. Trees examined on 12/16 included:
    • Hemlock, log cross section, 7 inch radius, 110 rings, but high above base of tree that seems to have been over two foot dbh, so estimated age = 250 years
    • Hophornbeam (Ironwood), 13.3 dbh, one of the bigger ones
    • Hemlock, 23.8 inch dbh, typical of live trees in stand; there are many nice, tall Hemlocks, up to about 30 inch dbh, and clear of branches a long way up.
    • Hemlock stump. 8 inch radius, 120 rings, very tight outer area, estimated age = 150 years
    • Hemlock stump, broken and rotted, with Hemlock seedling growing out of it; a very rough, incomplete (due to extensive rot) count gave 152 rings, estimated age = 200-220 years
    • Hemlock log, 10 inch radius, cross section about 30 feet above base, 161 rings, estimated age = 220-250 years

Tom Howard, Dec. 2001

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