Sugar maple growing along ledges. Many large, old, twisted ones remain from when this was an active sugar bush (Eagle Mountain, Milton)

Gravitropism

On Monday I went for a wander around the Lake Champlain Land Trust managed Eagle Mountain, which boasts the highest point of elevation along Lake Champlain (560′). It’s a cool little (250 acres little) feral patch of old sugar bush. Sugar maples dominate the canopy along the calcium-rich rocky ledges, while white ash, shagbark and bitternut hickory, basswood, and more sugar maples climb up through the understory patiently waiting for the old sugars maples to die. Without someone tending the sugar bush, the canopy is slowly diversifying, returning to a Rich Northern Hardwood Forest.

One old sugar maple had come down during the winter and taken a younger (maybe 50 or so yeasrs old) sugar maple with it. The younger tree, however, survived the fall and its buds opened up this spring alongside all the other sugar maples. Even though all of the branches are now oriented perpendicular to when they first grew, all of their leaves upon emerging oriented themselves against gravity. Always fascinating to see how responsive trees can be to their environment. 

Sugar maple knocked over in winter and with all its leaves oriented towards the sun (Eagle Mountain, Milton)

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