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Habitat News: Beech Trees, New Wildflower, and Reeds!

November 14, 2017
If you’ve walked at Reinstein Woods in the last year, you may have spotted some of the habitat improvements that have been taking place; although one “improvement” is hiding in the sanctuary… read on to find out what it is.


1) Champion Beech

boy scouts building deer exclosure

Troop V members install posts.

The bad news: this year we have officially declared the Champion Beech Tree dead. The tree, located along Reinstein Woods’ Beech Tree Trail, was the largest forest-grown beech tree in New York State’s Big Tree Registry.  It had been in decline from natural causes for several years, and at more than 250 years old, it  lived a good lifespan for an American beech tree.

The good news: In September, Boy Scout Oren Forgette of Boy Scout Troop V completed his Eagle Scout project by building a deer exclosure near the champion beech. The exclosure is protecting several young beech and maple trees from being eaten by deer. Some of the young beech trees may be offspring of the Champion beech.

Boy Scout Troop V standing in front of deer exclosure

Troop V members in front of the completed exclosure.

“My great-great-grandfather came from Bukovina, ‘Land of the Beech Trees,’ so this is a fitting Eagle Scout project for me,” said Oren. (Bukovina is an area in Romania and Ukraine.) “Maybe one of the saplings protected by this deer exclosure will grow to be the next Champion Beech Tree in New York State.”


2) New Wildflower Found

In other good news related to deer exclosures, a new wildflower was discovered at Reinstein Woods! Hiding in a deer exclosure in the sanctuary area of the preserve is tall rattlesnake root (Prenanthes altissima), a plant that is native to New York and is also called wild white lettuce. The particular deer exclosure it inhabits was also built several years ago by an Eagle Scout. This plant, photographed this summer while in bloom, becomes the 198th herbaceous plant species identified at Reinstein Woods!  

tall rattlesnake root showing flowers

Tall rattlesnake root

tall rattlesnake root flower

Tall rattlesnake root flowers








3) Battle Against Invasive Plant Makes Progress

Friends of Reinstein had help this year as it completed its third year of controlling an invasive plant known as common reed, or Phragmites australisthat threatens habitats at Reinstein Woods.

Curbell volunteers removing invasive plants

Curbell volunteers tackle invasive plants

In the spring, a crew from the Excelsior Conservation Corps planted trees and native wildflowers in areas of the sanctuary where common reed has been greatly reduced. During the summer, volunteers with the local Youth Build program and Curbell employees also helped by removing young stalks coming up in sites where the plant used to grow. Native wildflowers, including spotted Joe Pye weed, swamp milkweed, and beggar’s tick are starting to flourish at some of the sites. A donation from employees at Bond, Schoeneck and King helped supply some of the plants.

Next spring Reinstein Woods will be training volunteers to be part of a “Strike Force” that will monitor areas where common reed was removed and try to stop any reinfestation.

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