Liriodendron in Franklin County of Massachusetts   Gary A. Beluzo
  Jan 16, 2007 07:06 PST 

This past week I discovered a small population of Liriodendron on the edge
of Russell Pond that were impressive trees this far north. The largest was
a 11.8' (girth) tulip poplar right on the edge of the pond. Several other
trees measured 10.9, 10.1, and 9.8 feet in girth. Heights ranged from only
74.2 to 115.4'. The following day Ray Weber and I drove through Granville
and marked many locations for future visitation (perhaps today or tomorrow).
The Granville Gorge looks especially promising. I also measured a tulip
poplar in the middle of someone's front lawn on the way back on North Loomis
Road in Granville that measured 14.2 feet in girth, one of a handful of
large, open-grown tulip poplar in Massachusetts.

On Friday I visited a site in Whately, MA (thanks to clues given by Russ
Richardson and some detective work at the Whately Town Hall) to look for the
northern edge of Liriodendron in Massachusetts (Connecticut River Valley).
After several hours of driving and walking I finally found the site. Here
is the description:

The 150 acre site is a working forest, about 1 mile west of Rte 91 in
Whately, MA, and consists of a small stream valley on the east and a wall of
ledge with upland habitat to the west. Recent (2005-6) and previous (1984
and before) logging roads and stumps exist. I was VERY impressed with the
forestry being practiced on this site by Baystate Forestry Services.
Although there are very few large trees (most are 0-1.5' DBH) the diversity
is high (I counted over 35 species) and the growing conditions appear to be
excellent based on the height/diameter ratios of many of the species extant.
In the small stream valley I found TULIP POPLAR, American beech, black
birch, yellow birch, sugar maple, red maple, hemlock, black cherry, white
oak, northern red oak, scarlet oak, white pine, white ash, and green (or
black) ash.

In the upland area in and around the ledges I found primarily chestnut oak,
white pine, white oak, hemlock, red maple, northern red oak, and a few red
spruce right at the upper edge of the hill. The aspect for most of the site
is east-southeast.

I was primarily interested in the Liriodendron (I measured all of the trees
that I found):

Girth (Feet)        Height (Feet)

5.10                  94.9
3.92                  98.1
4.87                  105.5 (Maximum Height for species on site)
3.95                  101.9
6.31                  103.2
5.17                  100.3
4.50                  90.8
4.45                  86.2
6.25                  103.5   (Maximum girth for species on site)
4.86                  96.0
4.72                  102.0
4.25                  94.5
2.60                  72.0
3.30                  88.5
4.11                  96.0
3.93                  94.5
4.56                  100.5
4.50                  100.2

I did get an opportunity to measure several other species while I was there.
This is NOT representative of all the species present nor are the
measurements necessarily representative for species measured, although I did
try to measure specimens that looked representative on the site.

Species                        Girth                 Height

BigTooth Aspen              6.20                  -
Black Cherry                 3.60                  70.5
Black Birch                   2.97                  78.9
Northern Red Oak           4.75                  92.6
Red Maple                     3.78                  74.1
White Pine                    5.90                  102.4
White Pine                    5.67                  103.8
White Pine                    10.15                108.3    (Largest WP on the site)

As you can see this is a fairly young forest although all but several of the
tulip poplars had fruit capsules. Most of the trees appeared to be of the
same cohort although I didn't do any coring while I was at the site this
first time.         There are indications of repeat harvesting of small
numbers of trees, there were stumps in various stages of decomposition and
most of the stumps had anywhere from 65-105 growth rings.

This site is significant in that it is the most northerly site that I have
documented in Massachusetts so far. Also, none of the published
distribution maps that I have reviewed, including one detailed one from the
Department of Agriculture (by county) show Liriodendron in Franklin County
(the county farthest north in the Massachusetts Connecticut River Valley.
Now Bob Leverett and I have Liridendron measurements from 42 degrees 05
minutes (Agawam and Granville on the MA/CT state line) to 42 degrees 26
minutes (Whately, MA).

This week I plan to explore from Whately north to the Vermont border and see
what I can find, weather permitting. The Liriodendron Search Project goes


Gary A. Beluzo
Professor of Environmental Science
Holyoke Community College