Botany of Long Island

Botany of Long Island by Kathleen Sayce continued:

The maturing stands along the road up from the beach and main road that runs north and south on the island are a few decades older than the young hemlock stand near the grove. Woody shrubs, ferns, mosses, and in some areas, seedling trees, can be seen from the road. These stands are well on their way to handsome maturity. Trees are more widely spaced, sunlight reaches the forest floor in many areas, downed trees create light gaps where young tree seedlings grow. More than eighty years old, these stands are able to self-replicate the tree species. Over time, more long lived trees (Sitka spruce, Douglas-fir, western red cedar) will live among the hemlocks. There are two layers of trees, older and seedling, a ground layer of mosses and ferns and other plants, and the beginning of a shrub layer.

The old growth cedar stand has many layers of vegetation: ground, shrubs, and trees, including seedlings, maturing trees and old growth. There are nurse logs, light gaps where trees came down, and young trees now live, groups of maturing trees, and widely spaced forest giants, all living together to create multiple layers of plants from the ground to the top of the tree canopy. The space they occupy and the diversity within that space combine to make this a living example of an old-growth coastal temperate rainforest. This forest has persisted in this location for more than four thousand years, as individual trees come and go. It has high species diversity, including fungi, lichens, mosses and animals, and holds large amounts of carbon on the surface as dead wood, and in living trees, which continue to fix carbon every year. Despite their old age, these trees still grow each year, adding wood over all living surfaces, out growing younger forests every year.