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Liverpool School Maple Grove
Wetzel Road Elementary School, Clay
Onondaga County, New York

Liverpool Maple Grove, a small but outstanding old-growth grove, was visited by the Central NY survey team of NYOGFA on April 23, 2001, April 14, 2002, and again August 17 and 20, 2002 for additional surveys. This extraordinary place contains some of central NY's largest and oldest trees. It is owned by the Liverpool School District.

The grove is divided into 2 sections:

  • upper dominated by Sugar Maple and Beech
  • lower dominated by Hemlock and Red Maple

    The upper section—especially the eastern part nearest the school—has been disturbed with a great many dirt bike paths, etc. This abuse of this significant old-growth forest should stop, and the whole grove should be allowed to develop in a natural state.

    The lower section is more pristine, almost utterly primeval, and has been disturbed very little. Ancient Red Maples grow out of mounds created by trees falling in windstorms centuries ago.

    The grove has an exceptionally large number of large healthy old-growth Beech trees that appear to be totally untouched by Beech Bark Disease.

    The largest tree—a great 12.7-foot girth Sugar Maple with huge ancient scars—is possibly the only ancient Indian Paint Tree of 18th century still alive, and almost certainly a "Witness Tree" of the 1790 Military Tract Survey. The tree is healthy, and has signs of advanced aging, like shaggy bark and spiral grain. Bob Henry measured it as 122 feet tall with his clinometer. This is the largest Sugar Maple in Onondaga County, and possibly the tallest Sugar Maple in New York State. At an estimated age of 350-400 years, this could easily be the oldest tree in the northern Syracuse suburbs.

    Another important feature of this grove is the outstanding group of large Red Maples in the lower section—one of the finest stands of old-growth Red Maple in the Northeast. At an estimated age of 200-250+ years—these could be the oldest Red Maples in New York State. And with possible heights of up to 120 feet, these could be the tallest Red Maples in the Northeast.

    For these and other reasons, including the grove's great educational value, this site should be preserved for posterity! Its preservation as an educational resource is the highest priority, as it contains one of the largest stands of healthy old-growth Beech remaining.

    Tree Species
    Dominant: Sugar Maple, American Beech, Red Maple
    Associate: Basswood, Bitternut Hickory, Shagbark Hickory, Black Cherry, Yellow Birch, White Oak, Red Oak, Tuliptree, White Ash, Hop Hornbeam, Plum(?), Hemlock (small)

    Tree Data
    Surveys: April 23, 2001 and April 14, 2002
    SpeciesGirthTree RingsComments
    Beech33.4
    Beech33.5near school edge
    Sugar Maple34.5snag (standing dead tree)
    Sugar Maple37.8
    Sugar Maple52 rings on 1.4" radius fallen branch from old snag
    Sugar Maple38.3shaggy bark
    Sugar Maple41300+ yearsshaggy bark, spiral grain trunk, battered flat-topped crown, rose bush growing out of crown 60-70 feet up
    Sugar Maple220 years210 rings on 1.2 foot radius stump freshly cut from fallen dead tree; inner rings extremely tight and narrow indicating tree grew in a forest over 200 years ago—important sign this is an original old-growth forest
    Sugar Maple48.3350 yearslargest tree in grove; county champion Sugar Maple, one of largest forest-grown Sugar Maples in Northeast; shaggy bark, spiral grain; alive since 1650!; old scars on trunk may be Indian trail marker from about 1750 (these marks were painted, and marked trees were called Indian Paint Trees—may be one of very few still in existence!); likely a "Witness Tree" from Military Tract Survey of 1790
    Red Maple29.6forest-grown
    Red Maple31.6lower, spiral twist
    Red Maple23.5
    Red Maple34.7near entrance; county co-champion (other county champion is in North Syracuse Junior High School Oak Grove)
    Hop Hornbeam18.5near trail entrance

    Tree Data
    Saturday, August 17, 2002: Team Members: Robert Henry, Dean Fitzgerald, Tom Howard
    Tuesday, August 20, 2002: Team Members: Tom Howard, Jack Howard
    Specieslocationgirth (feet)agecomment
    Sugar Maple, giantupper12.7the grove's greatest tree
    Sugar Mapleupper near house9.6spiral grain
    Sugar Mapleupper next to above10possibly over 120' tall
    Sugar Mapleupper east, near school9.6surrounded by dirt bike paths
    Sugar Mapleupper near giant Sugar Maple to west176 ringsin 7 inch radius cross-section of log fallen from high up, possibly from this ancient tree
    Beechupper near east8.85healthy, ancient scars carved in trunk
    Beechupper south edge11.3healthy, possible Onondaga County champion
    Beechupper7.1healthy
    Beechupper south200+ years8" radius cross-section of branch 40' up: 111 rings; dying due to lightning strike; only 1 branch still alive in shattered top, black burn marks all the way down trunk
    Bitternut Hickoryupper4.7NW of giant Sugar Maple; at least 110 feet tall; balding bark; grows at slant to avoid Sugar Maple next to it
    Red Maplelower8.3
    Red Maplelower8.1shaggy bark
    Red Maplelower9snag
    Red Maplelower6.9very tall, over 110 feet
    Red Maplelower8.3tall, Hemlock growing out of root
    Red Maplelower250+ yearsspiral grain; shattered top; at least l50 rings on 5" radius cross-section from 40 feet up; extraordinary age for Red Maple! Nearby we found a patch of Canadian Yew
    Red Maplelower7.5huge root flares all around
    Tuliptreenear house west9.3partly open-grown
    Shagbark HickoryNW edge10.2
    Basswoodlower NW7.4poison ivy climbs 60-80+ feet up; first branch is 80 feet up; Bob Henry's clinometer measured 110 feet tall

    Tom Howard
    Central NY Old-Growth Forest Survey
    New York Old Growth Forest Association
    April 20, 2002, Aug. 26, 2002


    New York Old Growth Forest Associationwww.championtrees.org/NYOGFA/updated: 9/4/2002