Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   Robert Leverett
  Dec 19, 2006 05:56 PST 


     While reviewing a copy of "Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts" by
George B. Emerson, originally published in 1846 and republished later to
include 1875, I found the following passage about the distribution of
tuliptree in Massachusetts: "Considerable numbers of the tree are found
in seevral towns on Westfield River, particularly in Russell. It is also
found native, very rarely, in the eastern part of the State." I don't
have a clue as to how possible it might be for us to track the
historical track of migration of the species in Massachusetts. I presume
most of the more obvious evidence has long sense disappeared. However,
it makes the role of Robinson SP and the Westfield River corridor
perhaps even more important than we originally thought. Robinson may be
the last significant refugia. In the coming months, Monica and I, along
with Gary and others, I'm sure, will begin scouting for naturally
occurring presences of the species. The Little River, Westfield River,
Manhan River, Housatonic, Hoosic, and other river corridors will be the
places that we initially search. It has the flavor of a treasure hunt.
Very exciting.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   rayof-@ndws.com
  Dec 19, 2006 08:54 PST 

That also leads one to believe that the seed source may have been
upstream, carried by the river, accounting for the occasionals on
the river within Robinson. Ill keep my eyes open upstream as well.

Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   Cogbill
  Dec 19, 2006 09:11 PST 

Bob and Liriodendron lovers,

Be aware that in the 1930s the eminent and incomparable Frank Egler studied
the distribution of tuliptree (aka "yellow poplar" or just plain "poplar" to
southern folks but "whitewood" to old Yankees) on the Berkshire Plateau. His
map published in Phytologia 58:473 (1985) shows approximately 50 site
locations for tulip in the towns of Southampton, Montgomery, Russell and
Granville, Massachusetts. Unfortunately he did not map into the Connecticut
Valley, but the distribution was (is?) obviously continuous in the Valley
south of Mounts Tom and Holyoke. Beyond the Valley, only very scattered
trees, usually in pockets along streams or surrounding swamps, are
documented from the eastern part of Massachusetts mostly in southern Hamden
and Worcester Counties with a notable outlier in the Middlesex Fells
(Medford , Middlesex Co.). A Hatley station, if native, would be indicate a
"leak" in the rather abrupt range limit at the Oxbow gap. The tree was
frequent in the Housatonic Valley of Berkshire County especially in
Stackbridge, but only extended as far north as Lenox,. Note that Little's
official tree range map shows the distribution covering all of Connecticut
and Rhode Island and extending only approximately 10 miles north of the
Massachusetts border as far east as the Blackstone River. In the Hudson it
extends as far north as Lake George, with three (2 highly questionable as
native) sites in Vermont. A legitimate former station for tulip in the
Hoosuc Valley (Pownal, Vermont) appears to be gone and it is hard to tell of
its circumstances. Based on current biogeography, the Quaternary migration
route of tulip was apparently up the major river valleys (Hudson,
Housatonic, and Connecticut) from the south and it is probable that it was a
Hypsithermal arrival (say 5000 years ago). In any case, it barely
penetrated east or north of the the Oxbow in Hampshire County Mass. It would
be very helpful if any and all extant sites near and beyond the continuous
distribution are well documented (location, setting, tree count) and a
comprehensive map could be assembled.


Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   Andrew Joslin
  Dec 19, 2006 10:30 PST 

There are liriodendron in Boston that are growing in "natural"
settings that do not appear to be planted. They could be descendants
of apparently introduced tulips in Arnold Arboretum and in nearby parks.

Andrew Joslin
Jamaica Plain, MA
Back to Charlie Cogbill   dbhg-@comcast.net
  Dec 19, 2006 13:01 PST 

   A detailed mapping with actual stem counts is in fact what Gary Beluzo and I have in mind. Gary will likely take a sabbatical next fall, and if he does, I think a tulip tree project will be his focus. I will work with him on the project, whatever shape it takes.

   Gary and I have already done some isolated population searches. Several years ago, we located a small area on the Cobble Mtn Reservoir with tuliptrees, a few that looked quite old. There is also a small population on a terrace of the Mill River on the Smith College campus. However, those tulips appear to have seeded from one older tree that has a partially open-grown form. There is a scattered population of tulips following the Broad Brook corridor in Florence to include several that may be between 120 and 160 years old. I've seen a few crowns in Russel not far from the Westfield River. Russ Richardson knows of a population of tulips in Whately. I don't know the age distribution. One by one, we'll catalog them.

Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   dbhg-@comcast.net
  Dec 19, 2006 13:01 PST 

   I think we'll find a few scattered populations that can be attributed to escapees from a property that planted a few tulips. That is the case with the Smith College tulips.

   I forgot to mention to Charlie that I have found naturally occurring tuliptrees on Monument Mountain in Stockbridge, several isolated trees in Bullard Woods, a couple on Bartholomew's Cobble, and a small population on the lower slopes of the eastern side of Mount Everett behind the Berkshire School.

Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   Fores-@aol.com
  Dec 20, 2006 19:40 PST 

Over the years I have noticed a number of tulip poplar in Conway as well as
Whately. My best guess is that the trees probably never got north of the
confluence of the Deerfield and the Connecticut Rivers.

Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   Fores-@aol.com
  Dec 21, 2006 07:43 PST 

I actually thought the river valley could be an avenue of dispersal with
seed being spread in a northern direction by winds during severe weather events.
I have heard stories of white pine seed being blown many dozens of miles
north during the hurricane of 1938 and I would speculate that during the
thousands of years since the last ice age that yellow poplar's migration north was
in fits and starts and largely precipitated by hurricanes or other severe
weather coming up the Connecticut valley.

However, my thoughts are at best, a speculative guess.

Re: Tuliptree distribution in Massachusetts   rayof-@ndws.com
  Dec 21, 2006 14:41 PST 
Russ, you may be onto something. Several of these stands at Robinson
are all about the same age. With coring we'll know the exact number, but
it appears the hurricane or flood of 1936 or 1938 might have been the
catalyst for these stands.

More research will tell more on that issue, but those were my thoughts
also, hurricanes in particular.

Tulip Report, etc   Ray Weber
  Dec 28, 2006 17:56 PST 

In running down some tulip stands shown on the 1938 map, and bringing
some memory to light that has been in the dark for a couple decades,
I found one stand of tulip poplar in Russell, Ma. Some of the others
shown on the old map in this area likely were removed by the 1955 flood
that ravaged that area badly. This flood washed down huge boulders off
of the mountain and spread them many miles, rerouted several streams, and
wiped out the old state route 23 that passed through there, isolating
some hill towns for weeks.

I found the stand I thought of in a valley that didn't get a lot of
damage since it had a relatively small trickle of water in it. There
are, however, only ten tulip poplars in it. They don't look quite as
vigorous as the ones in Robinson, and obviously not the numbers. They
look to be about the same age as most of the Robinson occurrences. They
don't look as old as 1938 for sure. Id suspect 70 yrs tops. I need a
laser bearer to go in and check the height, but they aren't up to the
ones at Robinson.

So if there were tulips there in 1938, where are they? No older ones
in sight anyplace. Also this stand suffers from the effects of a road
built next to them to go through the woods to build the Massachusetts
turnpike in the 1950's.

I'm sure more will be found, but the numbers seem to be rather slim in
these stands so far. ONWARD!