This a mostly steeply-sloping 15.6 acre, L-shaped property in the Town of Caroline at the southeastern extent of the county, south of the West Branch of Owego Creek. The aspect is north-facing. The base of the slope and the floodplain have a history of uses that include clearing for agriculture, roads, and buildings. As a result, there is a small area of younger, more disturbed vegetation which is partly on the Cornell preserve. The forested lower slope is dominated by hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Some are quite large and ancient. Above the hemlocks, is a band of beech-maple forest that shows some evidence of past disturbance, where the trees are a bit smaller. The majority of the tract is on the very steep upper slope where there is high-quality mature-to-old-growth forest strongly dominated by sugar maple (Acer saccharum). White pine (Pinus strobus) and hemlock are also present. Strong winds brought down a number of big trees, probably about 25 years ago, making the forest more open and shrubby in places.
The very cool, moist microclimate, high soil fertility, and high calcium availability all influence the vegetation. These site characteristics differentiate this parcel from other Cornell Natural Areas. The ecological communities represented here are Beech-maple mesic forest and Hemlock-northern hardwoods forest. The forest is generally dominated by sugar maple, beech (Fagus grandifolia) and hemlock. Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) and hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) are also present. Striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) is quite abundant in the understory in some places.
Beech-maple mesic forest
A hardwood forest with sugar maple and beech codominant. Found on moist, well-drained soils, on north and east facing slopes, and on gently sloping hilltops of any aspect, this type rarely occurs in ravines. Common associates are basswood, American elm, white ash, yellow birch, hop hornbeam, and red maple. Characteristic species in the sub- canopy are musclewood, striped maple, witch hazel, hobblebush, and alternate-leaved dogwood. There typically are few herbs and shrubs, but tree seedlings may be abundant. There are many spring ephemerals.
Hemlock-northern hardwood forest
A forest that typically occurs on lower slopes of ravines, on cool, mid-elevation slopes, and at the edges of drainage divide swamps. Hemlock is a codominant species with one to three others: beech, sugar maple, red maple, black cherry, white pine, yellow birch, black birch, red oak, and basswood. Shrubs have low abundance, but striped maple may be present. Herbs characteristic of northern and montane areas are common.
The aquatic community of stream that has a well-defined pattern of alternating pool, riffle, and run sections. Waterfalls and springs may be present. Typical aquatic macrophytes include waterweed, and linear leaved pondweeds such as sago pondweed.
A woodland community that commonly occurs on abandoned agricultural fields and pastures, particularly on fertile soils, on slopes along the lakes, and occasionally on well drained soils of alluvial valleys. The dominant tree is usually red cedar. Gray birch, hawthorn, buckthorn, white ash, and black walnut are common associates. Shrubs and ground layers are similar to that of successional old field.
Successional old field
A meadow on sites cleared, plowed, and then abandoned. The ragweed type occurs on fields 1 to 3 years after last cultivation.; ragweed, daisy, Queen Anne’s lace, crab grass, golden foxtail, and chickweed are common. The golden rod subtype occurs 3 – 15 years after last cultivation. Dominant species are perennial composites: goldenrods and asters. Other herbs include timothy, orchard grass, smooth brome, bluegrasses, quackgrass, sweet vernal grass, evening primrose, old-field cinquefoil, wild strawberry, and hawkweeds. Shrubs represent less than 50% cover but include gray and silky dogwoods, arrowwood, raspberries, sumac, and eastern red cedar.
A forest that occurs on sites that have been cleared or otherwise disturbed. Dominant trees are usually two or more of the following; red maple, white pine, white ash, gray birch, quaking aspen, big-tooth aspen, and, less frequently, sugar maple. Tree seedling and saplings may be of more shade tolerant species. Shrubs and ground cover species may be those of old-fields. In abandoned pasturelands apples and hawthorns may be present in the understory.