An eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) located in Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County, NY, has regained its title as the largest known tree in New York State. The tree had been discovered and crowned the largest in the state back in 1972, but was removed from the list when it was not remeasured or confirmed to still exist. [Read more…] about A Schaghticoke Tree Reclaims Place As New York’s Largest
Whitetail Deer & Spreading Invasive Species
A winter walk in the forest reveals a flurry of wildlife activity that often goes unnoticed during other times of the year. Often among the many tracks in the snow are the nearly heart-shaped prints of whitetail deer. Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are common throughout the United States, with an estimated population of 30 million nationwide.
Deer are an important part of the ecosystem, but their foraging behavior can wreak havoc in forests, where browsing may contribute to the spread of invasive plants – and decrease species diversity. [Read more…] about Whitetail Deer & Spreading Invasive Species
Deadwood: The Importance of Standing Dead Trees
Some of the most important trees in your woodlot are the ones that are no longer alive. Large, standing dead or dying trees — called snags — are an important component of healthy forests and a critical habitat feature for wildlife.
They provide places for many birds and mammals to forage, den, nest, perch, and roost. Snags are particularly important for cavity nesting birds like woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees; for bats that roost within cavities, crevices, and flaky bark; and for countless species that rely on the abundant insects, fungi, and lichens as a food source. [Read more…] about Deadwood: The Importance of Standing Dead Trees
Work Begins On Bayard Cutting Arboretum Visitors Center
A $9.3 million construction project has begun on a new Visitor Center, improved parking, and enhanced exhibits at Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park in Suffolk County on Long Island. [Read more…] about Work Begins On Bayard Cutting Arboretum Visitors Center
The Time to Prune Trees is Now
Care and maintenance of trees ensures their health life and minimizes liability. Trees can be damaged by high winds, snow, ice, and other severe weather events. Some damage requires immediate attention, while other damage may be dealt with later. [Read more…] about The Time to Prune Trees is Now
Trees, Knees, and Other Deep-Freeze Creaks
In winter, when temperatures dip well below zero Fahrenheit, especially if they fall precipitously, things go bump in the night. Frozen lakes and ponds emit ominous groans, snaps and booms that reverberate through the ice. Wood siding and old knee joints might creak. And if soil moisture is high and snow cover sparse, the soil can freeze deeply, causing the earth to shift in a harmless, localized cryoseism, or “frost quake” that produces a nerve-rattling bang. [Read more…] about Trees, Knees, and Other Deep-Freeze Creaks
Balsam Woolly Adelgid: A Foe to Firs
’Tis the season for balsam fir, the fragrant evergreen that adorns our homes through the winter holidays. Its scent and long lasting needle retention make this the most popular Christmas tree and wreath species. Balsam fir is also an important timber species used for lumber. Native to North America, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) grows throughout the more northern latitudes and highest elevations of the country, including in the Northeast.
However, researchers predict a northward shift of balsam fir in an increasingly warming climate. Warmer temperatures are also contributing to a rise in populations of an exotic invasive pest – balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae) – which feeds on fir trees, affecting their health and viability as lumber and Christmas trees. [Read more…] about Balsam Woolly Adelgid: A Foe to Firs
Yule Logs & Firewood Science
The tradition of burning a Yule log has largely fizzled out in most parts of the world. While holiday cards often feature cute, picturesque birch rounds in the hearth, old-time Yule logs in 6th and 7th century Europe were monster tree trunks that were meant to burn all day, and in certain cultures for twelve continuous days, without being entirely used up. [Read more…] about Yule Logs & Firewood Science
Squirrel Talk: Gray Squirrel Communication
Even if you’ve never ventured further into the forest than an urban park or a college campus, you’re probably familiar with Sciurus carolinensis, the eastern gray squirrel. While it’s easy to identify gray squirrels by sight, however, recognizing the various sounds they make is more complicated.
Their vocalizations – squeaks, moans, buzzes, barks, and clucks – can sound like noises made by cats, chickens, jays, catbirds, even ducks. [Read more…] about Squirrel Talk: Gray Squirrel Communication
Ash Tree Bolete: A Tangled Story of Ash, Aphid & Fungus
If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then surely the friend of my enemy is my enemy. This inverted cliche is one way to characterize the tangled relationship between ash trees and the ash-tree bolete.
The ash-tree bolete (Boletinellus merulioides) is a fan-shaped brown mushroom with an off-center stem. It grows in association with ash trees throughout eastern North America; however, that association is an odd one. [Read more…] about Ash Tree Bolete: A Tangled Story of Ash, Aphid & Fungus