Fred Breglia
Image by Teresa Golden

Learn about old growth forests with Fred Breglia from the Landis Arboretum.

Episode 99: Old Growth Forests (Part 2)

Fred Breglia, executive director of the Landis Arboretum, located in Esperance, NY. He rejoins Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley with a continuation of a discussion on Old Growth Forests. In addition to being known as the “Tree Man”, he has also been called the “Lord of the Rings”.

In this episode, we learn about the characteristics of old-growth forests. They tend to have trees that are large including standing ones, snags, as well as large fallen/dead ones. ‘Ugly’ trees with scars show their ability to survive despite damage from wind, lightning, insects, and other injuries incurred over long periods. There may be openings in the canopy that are created when older trees die. This results in sunlight hitting the forest floor encouraging new growth that creates diversity in tree species and size of trees. When a tree blows over, the roots that are torn from the ground create pits and the fallen trunk/branches form mounds nearby, encouraging nutrients to return to the soil.

Nature is constantly changing the forest. Disturbances force a shift in the dominant species found within a forest. The life span of an oak can reach 500 years but some white cedar trees are over 1000 years old. The age of a tree can be ascertained by coring which entails twisting a borer (a cross between a drill and a screw) into a tree. As the tip of the borer is hollow, it screws in around a pencil-sized section of the tree. By counting the rings, the tree's age can be determined as well as its growth rate over time. Comparing the ring lengths to weather records, scientists can learn how changes in climate affect how trees grown. Counting rings of fallen tree limbs can also support or confirm the age of the main trunk. Thus, we can think of trees in a forest as a growing library of information where there are many things to learn!

Like trees in a forest, take the time to stand tall, be proud, and enjoy the view as you listen to this episode.

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Fred Breglia

Photo by: Teresa Golden

Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Deven Connelly, Teresa Golden, Xandra Powers, Annie Scibienski



Xandra Powers
Community Horticulture Coordinator
518-828-3346 x106

Last updated December 18, 2023