Recently, I revisited a “bald” or naturally open area on a ridgetop in Ulster County. What makes this place special is that it offers a view or opening in a dense sea of forest where few openings exist. I guess it remains naturally open due to the fact that bedrock is just about at the surface and few plants can grow there with limited soil and moisture. In the middle of the bald are some lowbush blueberries, but at the edges are something you don’t get to see every day–dwarf hemlock and black cherry trees. These trees are “stunted” from harsh shallow soils and cannot attain their full potential. Years ago, I went to this place for the purpose of picking black cherries; Where else can you casually pick cherries from a tree that normally grows to 60 feet or more? The point here is that site matters. The better the site, the taller trees can get. Although this site might be “poor”, it sure is unique and interesting. 

dwarf hemlock
dwarf hemlock
dwarf black cherry

Ryan Trapani

Director of Forest Services

Catskill Forest Association