Monday, October 24, 2005

Visit to the Carolinian Forest and the Comfort Maple.

Last weekend my wife Carroll and I were in St. Catharines, Ontario and surroundings to attend an OWA (Ontario Woodlot Association) meeting and to tour some local woodlots. Even though it rained steadily all day Saturday and most of Sunday it was a great visit.

The area on the Niagara Peninsula is now covered with vineyards, were the area used to be dominated by fruit trees. On Sunday we visited about half a dozen woodlots. I understand that the area forests are called Carolinian since the forests resemble those of the Carolinas in the United States. We saw many tulip trees of formidable size, black walnut is very common and well established. We also saw sassafras trees, which is quite rare here but common in the mid-eastern United States. Because of the climate there is a much larger diversity of plants and trees and the trees grow much faster.

We visited several woodlots that belonged to OWA members including a mature maple sugar woodlot, a newly planted field, soon to be forest, and several other forests with spectacular and unusual trees like the chinquapin oak and a swamp white oak.

The day culminated with a visit to the spectacular “Comfort Maple” pictured above. Carroll and I are to the far right and right next to the dog. The others are the hard core OWA members that stayed on after the meeting regardless of the rain. This tree is claimed to be the oldest living sugar maple in Canada. It is estimated to have germinated circa 1500 a.d. has pictures of the tree and a short description.

In an attempt to measure the tree, I used the reach of my outstretched arms which is very close to two metres and it took about three and half of these to measure the circumference. So the approximate circumference was thus seven metres. The diameter is calculated as 2.22 metres (7 1/3 feet). On any account, this is a big tree.

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