December 29, 2010

Pollinators of the Laurentian Forest

It's hard to think about pollination when I look out the window and see snow, but this is also the time of year when gardeners drool over seed and plant catalogs and ponder their spring projects.

The Pollinator Partnership's "mission is to protect pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research." A key part of helping pollinators is supporting them with plantings that keep them going, which means (among other things) reaching a large audience of gardeners. They've created a set of guides you can choose by zip code. The one that applies here is for the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (4.9MB PDF):

Portions of seven states make up the 147,300 square miles of this province with elevations ranging from a high of 2,400 feet to sea level. The topography primarily includes flat areas, but also includes areas of low rolling hills. This region has many glacial features including lakes, outwash plains, and morainic hills. Average annual temperatures range from 35° to 50°F.

The long, moderately severe winters of this province restrict the growing season for agriculture, leaving only 100-140 frost-free days per year on average. Summer weather is unstable since this province lies within the main cyclonic belt during these months.

This province is characterized primarily by deciduous forests comprised of yellow birch, sugar maple, and American beech, but also includes several species of conifers, including white pine and eastern hemlock.

The plant lists on pages 16-19 are probably the key piece gardeners will want to explore, but there's much more in there about wildlife-friendly landscape practices. You can also read more about the ecoregion here.

(And no, "Laurentian" is not about me. I'm pretty sure it's tied to the St.Lawrence River.)

Posted by simon at December 29, 2010 12:26 PM in
Note on photos


KAZ said:

From my brother, just FYI:

Laurentian relates to the oldest mountain range in the world, and includes the Adirondacks (but is mostly over in Quebec). Not sure if you think that Tompkins County is a part of that, but it’s not.

The depiction of the forests around upstate NY as yellow birch, sugar maple, and beech is almost as old as those mountains. With the disaster striking beech in the 1960s, mostly what you see regarding beech is young saplings interspersed among the understory, The old beech are mostly gone, unless they’re European plantings of yore. It’s oak, my friend. Oak-maple. Get with the program.

I'd forgotten about "my" mountains. These ecoregions aren't the same as geological regions, so I'm not too concerned about them mixing their Laurentian forest with our Appalachian Plateau. (I do wish the ecoregions map went into Canada to see how that works, though.)

The forest lands we just bought seem at a glance to be largely maple with some (pretty large) beech and occasional white pine mixed in. I'm not sure how the beech escaped the disaster, and we could be wrong about the identification, but the woods back there seem to have been "Laurentian" even before we claimed them.

I haven't found oak back there, and don't have any on my previous property. Maybe someone reforested your land with oak seedlings? Or squirrels got excited with acorns?

Adirondack Life did have a piece a few years ago showing the hickory-oak mix of further south moving north to replace our maples and dim our fall foliage.