Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest, IN   Don Bragg
  Jun 30, 2005 10:46 PDT 

I had big plans to visit some lower Michigan old-growth on a recent trip
northward, but unfortunately the weather and a family illness conspired
to prevent this effort. However, on the return trip to Arkansas, we
swung through southern Indiana and visited a research natural area on
the Hoosier National Forest called the "Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest"
(or "Cox Woods", in a previous time).

Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest (PMMF, for short) encompasses 88 acres
of virgin hardwood forest in the steep hills just outside of Paoli,
Indiana ( The
hardwood-dominated forest of this part of Indiana grows over a
relatively thin layer of soil, beneath which lies various sedimentary
materials (limestones and sandstones). Nevertheless, the under- and
overstory flora suggest a relatively rich site, with species like
bloodroot, wild ginger, mayapple, pawpaw, and greenbriar covering large
areas (an many other intriguing herbs that I couldn't identify). The
under- and midstory tree species of the stand are primarily sugar maple
and American beech, with other shade tolerant hardwoods like pawpaw and
sassafras. The overstory is a rich mixture of hardwoods, with some
areas dominated by American beech, black walnut, tuliptree, northern red
oak, white oak, and various hickories and maples. A dense canopy and
lack of time precluded me from spending much time on the site measuring
heights, so I did not stray far from the main trail that runs along a
narrow spur towards the valley floor. All of the trees reported below
were just off of the main trail, and I did see other big stems on nearby
ravines and ridges. I suspect the tallest of the trees would be found
in the small drains, draws, and coves scattered across the stand.

black walnut        44.8" 11.7' 109.3'
American beech       46.3" 12.1' 40' (estimated--broken)
tuliptree 33.9" 8.9'
northern red oak 45.9" 12.0'
bitternut hickory 29.7" 7.8' 108.1'
tuliptree 43.9" 11.5' 127.3'
white oak 39.4" 10.3'
black cherry     30.1" 7.9'
white oak 43.5" 11.4'
shagbark hickory 21.0" 5.5'
sugar maple 26.7" 7.0' 105-110' (vertical shot)

Unfortunately, my brief trip does not really do this stand justice. I
suspect that the Rucker Index (RI10) for this stand would easily exceed
110 feet, and maybe even 120 feet, as most hardwood overstory species
seemed to reach the canopy quite easily. I think the height I had for
the black walnut is a distinct underestimate, as I could not get a good
view of the full tree. Looking through the ENTS website, Will Blozan
reported a black walnut of 131' a few years ago at this site, but I'm
not sure if the walnut I measured was the same one.

Don Bragg

Don Bragg, Ph.D.
Research forester