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King Creek, NC

King Creek is a moderate sized stream with unremarkable topography that does little to suggest the area as a tree hunting destination. However, 2005 LiDAR data shows hits up 169’ in somewhat surprising spots. The highest hits are in a northeast facing cove, but one so small that it registers on the topo maps as only a slight swerve of the contours. The largest concentration of tall trees grows in a small tributary that drains due south into King Creek.

The setting of the watershed makes the heights less surprising. King Creek lies just outside of Brevard, NC, which averages about 72” of precipitation annually, and just over a ridge from Horse Cove and its 140’ Rucker Index. Additionally, much of the watershed resides between 2500’ and 3500’ elevation, the same range as most of the known 170’ tuliptrees.

Productive forests dominated by tall, slim tuliptrees and smaller numbers of black birch and other hardwoods line sheltered reaches of the stream. An understory or rhododendron and dog-hobble help create an impression of abundant moisture, but those shrubs generally do not extend far up the north facing slopes. The small, south facing tributary is also lined with tuliptree dominated forests, but oaks are the most abundant species on the surrounding slopes.

Unfortunately, the little cove with the tallest trees has been hit by an ice storm since the LiDAR data was flown. The crowns of several of the straightest and most symmetrical trees growing in the center of the cove now end in four inch diameter broken off stubs. However, many adjacent trees passed through the storm with little damage.


Jess Riddle & Michael Davie
by Jess Riddle
Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:42 pm
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Atlanta city Rucker Height Index - January 2012

With new discoveries the Atlanta R10 jumps over 141'
Species / CBH' / Height' / Location
Liriodendron tulipifera: 13.25 x 166.2 Beecher Hills Park
Quercus alba: 8.33 x 143.2 Fernbank Forest**
Carya glabra: 6.70 x 142.6 Beecher Park
Pinus taeda: 9.42 x 142.2 Fernbank Forest
Quercus shumardii: 7.13 x 141.0 Herbert Taylor Park**
Liquidambar styraciflua: 7.29 x 140.3 Herbert Taylor Park
Quercus rubra: 12.83 x 137.2 Beecher Hills Park
Carya cordiformis: 5.50 x 133.9 Emory University**
Quercus coccinea: 12.81 x 133.1 Emory University
Pinus echinata: 6.50 x 131.6 Fernbank Forest* SC
RUCKER 10 Index (average of top 10 species): 141.1'
Fraxinus americana: 14.00 x 131.6 Louise G. Howard Park* SC
Platanus occidentalis: 9.80 x 131.5 Old Briarcliffe Rd
Tilia heterophylla: 6.96 x 130.5 Fernbank Museum
Fagus grandifolia: 130.5 Emory University**
Quercus falcata: 8+ x 127.5 Fernbank Forest**
Ulmus alata: 6.73 x 126.6 Fernbank Forest**
Quercus velutina: 9+ x 125.9 Fernbank Forest
Populus deltoides: 13.50 x 125.3 Herbert Taylor Park
Carya illinoiensis: 121.5 Herbert Taylor Park**
Quercus nigra: 12.32 x 121.4 Cascade Springs
RUCKER 20 Index (average of top 20 species): 134.2'

**tallest in Georgia
* SC = state champion tree (total points)
I've also attached the Excel doc going about 60 species deep for you data mongers like me :)

by eliahd24
Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:12 pm
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Todd and Thumper Mtn Old Growth, MTSF, MA


On Sunday and Monday, Monica and I stayed at Cabin 6 in MTSF. During this visit, we had several objectives to accomplish. One was to get better pictures of Thumper Mountain's old trees for the nature guide. A second objective was to climb Todd Mountain and descend off trail through the old growth and check on it. Thirdly, I planned to look for more 150s and remeasure existing one, and lastly, we planned to just soak up the pine, rock, and river energy. We were the only ones in the campground and the weather was idyllic.

The first image is from Thumper. An old white pine is perched on a rock. This photo is part of the tree-rock art that I enjoy so much and reflects so much of the magic of Mohawk's forests.


A short distance from the cabin, there is a small leach field. One of the pines below the field is a 150. Naturally, I had to remeasure it. The Boulder Pine is on the left in the next image.


The next image has an arrow pointing to the absolute highest sprig of the Boulder Pine. Interestingly, the tangent method yields 146.4 feet for this pine instead of its true height of just 151 feet.


On the other side of the cabin, the high canopy part of the Pocumtuck Grove awaits a stroll of a few yards. Take that stroll, look up, and this is what you see. One of these canopy trees is a new 150. That's number 123!


Our big trek of the period was to the top of Todd Mtn and onto the old Indian Trail out to Indian Lookout, and then, down through the old growth in a rugged off-trail excursion. Our friend Ed Ritz joined us on the trek. The first image looks out over the Cold River Gorge from Indian Lookout. The gorge is roughly 1,000 feet deep. The English probably called it the Cold River Valley. The English were natural feature challenged when it came to naming landforms. Every land feature had to be named for a person or selected from a paltry number of descriptive choices.


The next image show Monica and Ed on the summit of Todd. The elevation is a modest 1,702 feet, but Todd rises 1,100 feet above the Deerfield River, and 1,000 feet above the Cold River. It is rugged terrain.


The next series of 5 images show the old growth on Todd. Hemlocks to 400 years in age, but more commonly 250 to 300. Black birch to 334 years, bit more commonly 200 to 275. Northern red oaks to 300, but more commonly 180 to 250. Great trees, great rocks, great views, and the old Indian trail at the top. Who could ask for more.






by dbhguru
Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:11 pm
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Jabba the Hutt Oak, CT

Here are two shots of an exceptionally gnarly oak Bart and I found in Newtown, CT. It was 22'3" around @ breast height, and 19'3" around at its skinniest point. Measuring at ground level probably would have gotten us a 30' circumference. The height was unexceptional, maybe 70'. The spread was around the same.
by RyanLeClair
Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:36 am
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Dorsey Farm Mt. Nebo, WV

NTS: In May of 2011 I found myself in the far suburbs of Mr. Nebo high on a ridge bouncing across a rutted farm road on a 4-wheeler and driven by a person who belatedly informed me he was legally blind. We were crossing the farm of Jerry Dorsey, the driver, who said not to worry it was only his lack of peripheral vision. He was going to show me a large Yellow-poplar which was a corner tree referenced in an 1860 deed. It turned out to be over 4’ diameter, but was impossible to get a good height reading so I promised to come back in the fall after leaf drop to get an accurate reading. Before leaving Jerry showed me a patch of timber on another part of the farm which he had cut 25 years ago but left the hemlocks and less valuable hardwoods. Since the property had been in his family for over 150 years he thought he was the first one to cut in that patch. The hardwoods showed a lot of old growth characteristics.. The Hemlocks ranged from 3-4’ diameter.
On 11/17/2011 I returned to the Dorsey farm accompanied by Dr. Amy Hessl and Matt Merrill from West Virginia University. Dr Hessl is associate professor of Geology at the University. I am not sure what Matt is working on but it requires coring Hemlocks and he has been to several tracts that I am somewhat familiar with including Fanny Bennett and Shavers Mountain.
The Yellow-poplar is centered in picture below. It measured at 13.8 girth and 135.6’ height. No record holder but a nice tree.
13.8' x 135.6' x maximum spread 86'
Photo by Turner Sharp 11/17/2011

Matt cored two Hemlocks. He later told me they were in the 250-300 year age class but were pretty poor quality cores. I believe he is on the prowl for 400+ year age class Hemlocks.

The two Hemlocks that Matt cored were measured at 12’ x 110.8' and 11.7’ x 107.7’.
Matt Merrill coring the 12.0' x 110.8 'Hemlock

Entered into the "Trees database" at
Photo by Turner Sharp 11/17/2011

by tsharp
Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:50 pm
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Checking in from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Hi Folks,

Well Monica and I are winding down our BRPW visit, which got considerably curtailed because of Lyme disease for yours truly. Yep, on the antibiotic. Nuff said.

Here are some images from this visit.

From near the beginning.


From Peaks of Otter Lodge.


Series from Harkening Hill. First on is from summit looking toward Apple Orchard Mtn


A balanced rock, but not THE balanced rock on Harkening Hill, which is rinky dink.


Neat shagbark hickories


You tell me.


There will be more to come on the Parkway, but after the Cook Forest rendezvous. Tomorrow, we head north with a stop-over at Ramsey's Draft.

by dbhguru
Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:43 pm
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Re: Cook Forest, PA April 18-19


Looking back over the Cook Forest Advanced Tree Measuring Workshop, did I learn any lessons? I can think of a big one. There are people out there who are genuinely interested in measuring trees the right way and who respond positively to a well-planned tree measuring program. I had begun to wonder.

I have come to accept that NTS is in an undeclared competition with non-NTS timber professionals and big tree hunters (using the tangent method) on how to acceptably measure trees. In a sense, it is no competition. We're right and that was amply demonstrated at the workshop. On April 16th, Dale and I chose a white pine to use in comparing sine versus tangent measuring techniques. Our pine has a fairly broad crown and leans a little. By repeatedly measuring every twig, we determined its highest point is between 120.5 and 121.5 feet above its base. We decided that any one getting a height in this range would pass the sine method test. We also tested the range of results to be expected of the tangent method. Attendees were in line for an eye opener.

On the 18th, after the Dendromorphometry presentation, we took attendees out to measure the pine. We established a circle at 66 feet away from the trunk and let people measure what they thought was the top using both the tangent and sine methods. Of course, at that distance, they weren't measuring the top, but side limbs, and the results showed it. The tangent method produced results ranging up to 156 feet. The sine method produced numbers between 100 and about 108 feet, depending on the spot chosen. These results were predictable to us. Sixty-six feet is much too short of a baseline, but keep in mind that hypsometers have been designed to include the chain as a baseline, suggesting that a short baseline is acceptable.

At a distance of 100 feet out, the tangent method gave values from about 126 to 138 feet. This is the common baseline distance for lots of professional and amateur tree measurers. The 126 to 138-foot height range was better because shorter limbs higher up were being chosen as the top. The shorter limbs have tips that are closer to the real top. From 130 feet out, we could see the true top and the sine method produced values of 120 to 122 feet for the measurers. The tangent method produced numbers in the range of 124 to 132 feet. From around 180 feet away, the sine produced numbers from 120 to about 121.5 feet. The tangent method was around 124 to 126. We were around 70 degree to the lean.

All the above results are perfectly understandable when one considers where the top projected vertically downward lies relative to the base and where one's position is relative to both. When these variables were explained, attendees got it. Most gratifying.

The good news continued. When we went to measure the Longfellow Pine, most of the attendees were in the ball park with their measurements, and the same was true for the Cook Pine. A lady there actually found the top of the Cook Pine for us. Hooray for her! My actual measurement of the point was between 163.8 and 164.0 feet. We gave Cook the full 164.0. Dale eventually got a cross-checking confirmation of 164.2 from another location.

There was other positive feedback. One attendee, an instructor at Penn State, was most gracious in his praise of the workshop. He got it. So, why did the workshop work so well? Well, for one thing, the group was open-minded. There were no vested interests. Egos and prides weren't involved, just desire to learn and attention to details. Refreshing.

So the lesson for me was to keep the faith. There are folks in all professions and occupations with an interest in tree measuring who instinctively want to do it right. Those are the folks we should seek out. Forget the rest. With high profile scientists like Don Bragg and Lee Frelich speaking internally to members of their professions, with more tree measuring workshops, and with the steady drumbeat on the BBS, I am guardedly optimistic that the NTS methods will eventually be adopted by professionals and amateurs with a genuine interest in obtaining accurate results.

In October we'll do it again at MTSF. Here is hoping that we will get another super group of attendees.

by dbhguru
Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:22 pm
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Re: Stilted trees and evidence of Carolina Bay Formation,r:0,s:0,i:70&tx=140&ty=55


I'm going to write a blog entry about Carolina bay formations next week. The subject of my blog this week is "The Curious Disjunct Range of the Miccosukee gooseberry.

by samson'sseed
Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:47 am
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Re: It's the baseline, stupid


The Pythagorium Therom
by edfrank
Mon May 07, 2012 3:41 pm
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Single trunk vs. Multitrunk Revisited

Counting a multitrunk tree as a champion is like super-gluing two fat guys together and calling the combined pair the new champion fat guy.

For size comparisons it is important to compare like things to like things. If you mix both single and multitrunk trees together you are mixing different things. A tree for champion purposes needs to be defined as a single trunk, meaning it has a single pith at ground level. Multitrunk trees are worth measuring and documenting, but they should not be lumped together with single trunk trees for comparison purposes.

If you start talking about tree genetics and growing from the same root, then that begins a myriad of complexities that make the situation even worse. Two trunks from a rootstock may be genetically the same, but so are all of the clonal trees in colonies like the Pando Aspen Colony. Since they are all genetically the same and may be interconnected through the roots, should a tape be wrapped around all 47,000 stems covering 106 acres and call that the girth? In multitrunk trees there typically is a pinched section of bark between the trunks, clearly indicating they are separate trunks.

It is better in both practical terms and conceptually to define a tree as a single stem, even if the larger organism may have multiple trunks. The examples of unusual multitrunk specimens, trees like banyans, clonal colonies, self grafted series, fallen trees with limbs sprouting, etc. should certainly be documented, but each on their own merits, rather than lumping them in with measurements of single trunks.

If there was one aspect I would want to see cleaned up in champion tree lists, it is the persistent inclusion of multitrunk trees. They should not be on lists that are designed to compare the biggest individual - read single trunk - trees. This is something that could be resolved with better adherence to a champion guidelines that specifies single trunk trees only. I would even be in favor of a separate list for multitrunk trees, or trees with other unusual forms, but the two categories should not be mixed.

This something that can be fixed on champion tree lists. Multitrunk trees should be removed from consideration. This action does not require any expensive equipment on the part of those people measuring the tree. It does not require any special knowledge on the part of the measurers. It does not exclude anyone interested in measuring trees from the process. It would assure the integrity of the lists and reward people who find the actual giants of a tree species, rather than game playing by people who would nominate unworthy multitrunk trees as champions. Nothing annoys me as much with champion tree programs as allowing multitrunk trees to be included in the same listing category as single trunk trees.

There are examples of individuals or groups of individuals using faulty tangent based height measurement processes simply because these have yielded taller heights than more reliable sine top/sine bottom laser rangefinder/clinometer measurements available to them, but these are examples of cheating on the part of these individuals rather than a problem. with the champion program itself.

Will Blozan recently posted some examples of multitrunk trees:

Ohio champ cottonwood.jpg
Ohio champion cottonwood

And here are some pith trace examples:

Platanus occidentalis - trunk with tape, PITH TRACE.jpg
Ohio champion sycamore

Seven Sisters pith trace-small.jpg
Seven sisters live oak clump

The pith lines need to merge before ground level for something to be considered a single trunk tree. If there is more than one pith line at ground level it is a multitrunk tree. If there is only one pith at ground level, then it is a single trunk tree. Low branches could come out below 4.5 feet, but above the ground level and the tree still be a single trunk tree.

In the tree measuring guidelines, (all three of the documents, the original version, the one published in the Bulletin, and the updated version) NTS SP #1a Tree Measuring Guideline of the Eastern Native Tree Society -Revised Will Blozan writes:

"I use a “pith test” to define what a multitrunk tree is. If the tree has more than one pith at ground level it is a multiple-stemmed tree. Note I did not say 4.5 feet above the ground. This is because the 4.5 foot height is a forestry standard and is an arbitrary and convenient place for most people to measure a tree. Some trees, like flowering dogwood or rhododendrons, may branch well below 4.5 feet but have a single pith at ground level. In the case of such trees, I would measure the narrowest point below the lowest fork. More detailed discussions of how to measure multitrunk trees and trees with other odd forms is presented on the ENTS website."

As for the question of whether a particular tree is a double or single trunk, there will be arguments between experienced measurers about whether a particular tree is a double or a single. Many old doubles have grown together so that the trunk is regular in form and on the face of everything no longer appear to be doubles. The opposite situation s where there is a large low protruding branch. If the tree and branch grow large enough, the low branch appears to look much like a second trunk. When faced by wind and weather it is possible that these may split along the attachment line to look as if they are two trunks. In many cases there is sufficient doubt that the only way to know for sure would be to cut the tree down at ground level and see what the cross section shows.

Some people consider it being conservative to consider something a double if they can't tell for sure otherwise. I think this corrupts the data set more so than an occasional misclassified tree. For anyone measuring trees in the field, I would recommend they make detailed observations in the field, and then go with the best guess as to whether the tree is a single or double, and report that. Field inspection trumps photos except in the most egregious examples. This is not to say that if someone else goes out and looks at the tree will reach the same conclusion, but we hope so. Measurers should try to build in their mind characteristics that might distinguish singles from double or multitrunk trees, and apply these mental lists to what they are seeing in the field.

We are not defining whether something is a single or multitrunk tree based on genetics. The multitrunk tree may be growing from the same root mass and have identical DNA in all of its trunks. For measurement purposes we are classifying a multitrunk tree as a different measurement category than a single trunk tree because of its growth pattern, not because of different genetics. There may be some cases where there actually are two different specimens of the same species of tree growing together to form a fused mass, but these would be I would guess an extremely rare circumstance. There are occasional examples of two different species growing together - the Hugging Trees in the multitrunk tree classification scheme I previously proposed I would expect that hugging trees of different species would be more common than two different trees from the same species. In any case these should not be considered in the same measurement category as single trunk trees.

Are we becoming splitters or lumpers when it comes to tree measurements? I think I am a splitter as needed to maintain what I see as a valid data set. I want to make sure the big tree lists maintain an internal integrity. On the other hand, I have championed the idea that we should be collecting data on multitrunk trees and trees of other weird forms. That was the point of the article I wrote: Multitrunk Trees, Woody Vines, and Other Forms: I want to include these other forms in our dataset, even if they are not the idealized single trunk model and have proposed ways to measure them. The columns for inclusion of multitrunk trees are in the spreadsheet I wrote, and I have been working with Mitch Galehouse in his implementation of the NTS Trees database so that the multitrunk specimens can be properly recorded. So I would counter that you can be both a splitter and also be pushing for a broader inclusion and representation in the dataset.

There needs to be a balance between lumping and splitting when looking at sets of data. If you lump too many things together then they become a mish-mash of different objects that lack a coherent theme that is useful for expanding your understanding of the set. If there is too much splitting, then each individual is its own class and you can't look at relationships between objects as easily. So really I don't think it is a matter of splitters versus lumpers. We are splitting the data only to the degree needed to make it useful, and further lumping would only hurt the overall goals. I want to keep records for and acknowledge the superlatives of the different forms, but see it as a detriment to mix different form trees together in a single list.

Edward Frank
by edfrank
Fri May 11, 2012 2:39 pm
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More Big Tuliptrees in Baltimore: Leakin Park, MD

So, as mentioned in my other post about the three big tuliptrees, I've been exploring more of the stream valley and found some really huge trees. Just to be clear which site I have been exploring, the park is Leakin Park/Gwynns Falls Trail. The Crimera estate area has what could possibly be old-growth forest; very mature trees, lots of snags and plenty of huge rotting wood on the floor and a general feel of beech/oak climax forest, especially on top of the hills.

So, on to my big trees. On Sunday, I went off on a small, hilly trail called the Franklintown Loop; a treacherous singletrack across the ridge line and through some small tributaries. I found many big tulips (my primary hunt for the day); so many were between 15 and 17' CBH. I wish I could give you heights but I'm not "there yet". Anyway, I came across a huge one right off the trail, very old with an ancient, enormous gash on the side. The tree is declining but it looks to be in a state of internal rot for decades; somebody built a "fort" inside this thing with concrete and wood... its just bizarre. Also, there are guy wires or something attached to the tree, possibly from some old Outward Bound treehouse thing... not sure. I want to meet people in the area who know more history of the park. Anyway, on to the pictures:


Most of the center of the tree is rotted to a height of about 20 feet. My theory though, is that this is a very old condition to the tree. The buttressing on the other sides of the tree is staggering, as if the tree adapted to its problem on one side to stabilize itself.


Here you can see the top of the tear, or gash. This is about 20 or so feet up. What could cause this? Also visible is the rusty guy wire-thing:


So, the circumference. I had a hard time coming up with a fair way to measure across the gaping hole. I just stretched it across the divide in the end. I got 22 feet at breast height starting from the high side (the buttressed side), exactly. Standing next to this beauty is awe-inspiring. It is very tall too, being in the middle of the dark forest. Somebody come and help me measure the height!

Next up is another giant, but out in the clearings of the park. The entire top was blown off some years ago, and it is fascinating to study how it adapted (not unlike the other big tree from my other post). I would not have noticed this one just looking for tall canopies... it is off in the corner of the estate and if the tail of a jumping deer didn't entice me to that corner I might have missed it.


It is still very tall, but a closer inspection shows that the main trunk is almost completely cut off in the middle. I can only imagine this tree in its full glory. The bole is HUGE, and standing next to it is humbling. I thought it was bigger than the other tree, but alas, I measured 20 feet CBH exactly. This tree is also rotting from the inside out; notice the hole down in the bottom.


Sorry, no bike this time for scale. That hole is probably 18" high. Here is a picture of the back side, showing the old carnage to the main trunk:


Since this post has a theme of old rotting trunks, have a look at this old beech on the main Gwynns Falls stream trail; this tree is very healthy up top:


Here is a link to the park: I'll finish up with a shot of a nice old Eastern redcedar feature tree, 10'-6 CBH.

by MickR
Tue May 29, 2012 1:04 pm
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Ordway Pines, Norway ME Aug. 21, 2012

3 Great White Pines Ordway Pines 20120821 medium.jpg Tall Pines Ordway Pines Norway ME medium.jpg NTS,

Jack Howard and I visited this grove on this beautiful sunny day. Ordway Pines is featured in The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast, as the site of the greatest White Pines in Maine. This is a realistic claim, and Bob Leverett has measured a White Pine there to 152.5 ft. in 2006 or later, the tallest accurately measured tree in Maine. These huge towering White Pines are an awesome sight, soaring high into the sky far, far over our heads. We had to keep craning our necks to look up into the crowns so far above us.

The approach to this grove was quite unassuming, through an ordinary neighborhood, till we came to a sign saying “Ordway Grove” by a small dirt parking lot on Pleasant St. in Norway across from near the intersection of Pleasant St. with Maple St.

A trail leads into the grove, through a patch of Japanese Knotweed (I believe, called “Mexican Bamboo” in the site brochure). There are also native plants like New England Aster, which was starting to bloom. The trail enters the grove by an old stone wall, by which a large Red Oak grows. So far not very impressive. But go a few steps up the trail and the great Pines appear, seeming to be impossibly tall, far taller and larger than the Bowdoin Pines. These were the largest and tallest trees we saw on our New England trip.

There are not very many of these great White Pines, maybe 20 or 30 trees, in densely packed groups. The big Pine area covers about 2 or 3 acres of the 9-acre Ordway Grove. The big Pines are easily over 200 years old, with the oldest possibly 300 years old or more. They have rough bark to high in the canopy, rugged old windswept crowns as typical of great old growth White Pines. The area where the old Pines grow has classic old growth characteristics like snags, coarse woody debris (old downed logs in varying states of decay), pit and mound topography, various types of Fungi. The rest of the Ordway Grove is mainly 2nd growth.

White Pine is the dominant tree in the oldest part of Ordway Grove. Associate trees include Hemlock (some big trees), Beech, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Striped Maple, Red Oak.

I measured several trees, and due to difficulties in seeing the tops, as trees are in leaf, could not see the highest points of the trees. Hence, the heights listed here are lower than the actual heights of the trees.

Trees measured:

White Pine 135 ft. +
White Pine straight up shot at least 120 ft. to lower crown, 32.4” dbh, this tree next to White Pine snag
White Pine in group of 3 tall White Pines, straight up shot, at least 135 ft. into crown
White Pine 140.4 ft. by Ice Road Trail, snag next to this tree
White Pine 143 ft. in same group
White Pine 141.7 ft. in same group
White Pine 128.2 ft.
White Pine 37.5” dbh, rough bark to lofty height
White Pine 137.2 ft. fairly slender
White Pine 132 ft. in group of 3
White Pine 141.5 ft. across Main Trail from biggest White Pine
White Pine 140 ft. + (could not see top, tree taller), 48” dbh, biggest tree in grove, biggest tree seen on New England trip
White Pine about 120 ft. at edge of younger White Pine group
Red Oak 31.9” dbh, by Main Trail

After reluctantly leaving this glorious grove, Jack and I continued west toward New Hampshire, on our way back to North Syracuse. The route west, on ME route 117 to US route 302 toward New Hampshire, went through some very beautiful country, with low mountains, lakes with shores lined with tall White Pines. Along the roads were seemingly countless groves of tall fragrant rough-barked White Pines well over 100 ft. tall. It was an enchantingly beautiful drive, and towns like Bridgton, ME, Fryeburg, ME are filled with big tall White Pines. Large picturesque Pitch Pines are mixed among the White Pines in some places.

We pulled off of Rt. 302 in Bridgton (to get a tail gating truck off our back), and stumbled across beautiful Shorey Park by Highland Lake. In this park was a grove of tall White Pines rising out of a lawn, and I measured an average one, no taller than its neighbors, to a height of 124.4 ft. There are White Pines like this everywhere in this western part of Maine.

I am enclosing 2 pictures of the Ordway Pines taken by Jack Howard with his cellphone camera.

Tom Howard
by tomhoward
Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:13 pm
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Re: European beech forests

Heres a few new images of Our Eurpean beech, mainly Epping forest, some from Windsor Great Park and one or two from Knole Park all taken within the last three weeks, I tend to get around a bit! I am very fortunate to live within a short drive of some of Europe's most amazing and ancient woodlands, where man has been the driving force in the creation of unique habitats, the likes of which are rarely seen elsewhere. There are those that say that our European beech, Fagus sylvatica is a fragile beast that cant be pruned, this is of course utter nonsense and the beech is as capable a survivor as any, as youll no doubt see here! True beeches are sensitive and need a little care in management, but as long as they are understood anything is achievable.

pruning trees is not a blanket situation, it is a species specific situation, an Oak or an ash that are high demanding of light require different approaches to the shade tolerant woodland species such as beech, which with their thin bark can be highly sensitive to over exposure to light.

A fine Pollard in Epping forest
epping 578.JPG
Epping forest is home to 10's of thousands of Beech pollards
epping 505.JPG
defying the laws of gravity is an art!
epping 470.JPG
Very ancient beech probably in excess of 500years with Ganoderma Sp and Perenniporia fraxinea
Epping etc 537.JPG
Epping etc 455.JPG
Epping etc 425.JPG
Epping etc 445.JPG
Inonotus cuticularis, beech is its favourite host species though this can also be found occasionally on Acer Sp including Acer campestre
Epping etc 406.JPG
A beech tree that I have been stage pollarding as a compromise to felling, the client was feeling the tree was too large for the location and this is just before the second stage as you can see it is responding well
European beech is a fragile genus? yeah right, a natural pollard!
knole and pip etc 239.JPG
A beech freed from forest now filling out to become and open grown specimen.
knole and pip etc 233.JPG
An included bark union long since failed, now occlusion tissues (embryonic) form into re iterative roots due to contact with moist rotting wood rather than exposure to light which may have caused the tissues to differentiate into shoots (retrenchment)
knole and pip etc 067.JPG
Ganadorma sp, probably G. australe aka the southern bracket on ancient beech
windsor pip 843.JPG
The Ganoderma colonised Beech with clear die back and retrenchment, if the tree can shed enough wieght before the ganoderma causes a failure in the main union she may go on for a lot lot longer.
windsor pip 831.JPG windsor pip 796.JPG windsor pip 810.JPG windsor pip 582.JPG windsor pip 586.JPG windsor pip 579.JPG windsor pip 597.JPG
by hamadryad
Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:51 am
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New record European larch


I wrote about the tallest European larches ( Larix decidua ), I had measured until then, here:

German tall tree hunter Karlheinz Brüne recently told me about a tall European larch in Schlitz, Germany, and invited me to measure it. According to the official information this tree, dubbed as "Grand German", is as tall as 55 meters (180 ft), but Karlheinz's preliminary measuremens gave only ~45 meters.

The tree grows in a 400-hectare lowland forest outside the natural range of the species. In addition to larch, the stand contains plentiful European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ). First larches have been planted in 1742. Now larch appears to regenerate naturally in the patches where beeches have been removed. Media articles speak about "195-years old trees" but it is unclear to me if it is the Grand German's age, too.


My measurement was very close to that of Karlheinz: 45.5 m (149 ft). CBH is 354 cm. According to the official information its volume is 20 cubic meters.

After measuring the Grand German, we concentrated on other larches and soon noticed the stand has lots of taller trees than the Grand German. And how tall! I had not known European larch can attain such heights at all. The first over 50 m tall larch was the 51.6-meter (169 ft) tree pictured below. Its CBH is only 263 cm.


We found two still taller trees growing side by side. The tallest is the very thin leaning tree below, with a CBH of 195 cm. Its height 52.6 m (173 ft) makes it the tallest reliable measured European larch we are aware of. The second tallest tree, height 51.8 m (170 ft), is on the right.


It is possible that somebody has confused the tree identities. The Grand German is undoubtedly the largest tree of the stand but it is far from being the tallest although the official information states so. Its top is also intact. Perhaps the 55-meter tree still exists, we had possibility to explore only a small part of the forest, though it should be a prime stand because it is marked as a seed collection site.

Thus, the name "Grand German" is quite misleading: the tree is not the tallest in Germany, nor the thickest or largest (e.g. the Brüsenwälder Lärche is 460 cm and 30 cubic meters).

Tall European larches exist as north as in southern Finland. In a research forest of Finnish Forest Research Institute in Punkaharju, there is a 47.1-meter (155 ft) larch measured with Riegl VZ-1000 laser scanner (price about $ 200.000!). The whole stand was laser-scanned and an animation of the scanned stand can be seen here (the tallest tree appears at 0:48):
It is the tallest tree of Finland. Forestry engineer Esko Oksa told me the wood volume of the stand is now over 800 m3/ha and was over 1000 m3/ha before thinning. The tree is pictured below.


by KoutaR
Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:53 am
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The vanishing groves

The vanishing groves

A chronicle of climates past and a portent of climates to come – the telling rings of the bristlecone pine
Ross Andersen 16 October 2012

by edfrank
Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:01 am
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Reforming the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society?

Before the actual creation of the present day Western Native Tree Society as a chapter of the larger Native Tree Society, many people had toyed for years with the idea of creating a parallel organization to ENTS for tree hunters in the western United States. Don Bertolette provides a more detailed overview of the history as a guest editorial in the July 2011 issue of eNTS Magazine. That discussion is also reprinted here: Some of the discussion before Don Bertolette took the helm of WNTS concerned the name for the western branch of the organization. One of the suggestions had been the Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society (RMNTS). I personally pushed for Western Native Tree Society as a better parallel for ENTS.

The western United States is a vast area representing thousands of square miles of rugged terrain. People like Michael Taylor, Zane Moore,and Mario Vaden are doing wonderful things in California with tree measurements. Western tree hunters like Chris Morris and many others have posted on the region. Don himself is coordinator of the Alaska Big Tree Program Others have visited the area and made their contributions. We have a growing membership in the region and are collecting data that includes measurements of the tallest trees in the world and the oldest trees in the world.

The membership is growing – but growing slowly. I wonder if we would be better off as an organization to try to create another chapter of the Native Tree Society centered on the locus of interest in the Rocky Mountains. We could capitalize on the interest created by Bob Leverett’s western trips and the WNTS rendezvous held in Colorado over the past few years. We have a beginning with contacts within the US Forest Service, retired forest service members, and groups such as the Great Old Broads for Wilderness.

I propose we create a third chapter of the Native Tree Society under the previously suggested name Rocky Mountain Native Tree Society. This is not meant as a reflection on the excellent work being done by the members and officers of the current WNTS, but just an attempt to take advantage of the opportunity we have in the Rocky Mountain region.

From an ecological standpoint the two areas are distinct. Many of the giant trees on the west coast – from giant redwoods, sugar pines, to western red cedars are found only in the western-most states along the coast. The temperate rainforests are restricted to the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.


Another listing shows the forest types of the North America:


Young, R.A., and R.L. Giese (eds.). 2003. Introduction to Forest Ecosystem Science and Management. 3rd edition. John Wiley and Sons. 560 p.

We could nitpick about the classification schemes and boundaries, but the diagram makes it clear there is a distinction that can be made between the two regions. The article breaks the two regions under discussion into the Rocky Mountain Forest Complex and the Pacific Coast Forest Complex.

Rocky Mountain Complex

Rising to over 14000 feet above the Great Plains and Great Basin Desert is the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. These mountains stretch from northern New Mexico into Alberta and British Columbia and into Alaska to Mt. McKinley, the highest point in North America at 20320 feet. The distribution of forests in the Rocky Mountains is controlled mainly by two factors: elevation and latitude. As elevation increases, there is a decrease in average annual temperature and generally an increase in annual precipitation. Increasing latitude has a similar effect on temperature and also causes the elevation range of forest types to decrease. For example, the southern Rockies have a timberline around 11500 feet whereas in the northern Rockies near the Canadian border, timberline is above 6000 feet and only 2000 feet in Alaska. The majority of the Rocky Mountain forests have not experienced heavy logging due to their rugged geology and inaccessibility. The major disturbance agents in these forests are fire, avalanches, windthrow and insect and disease outbreaks such as those currently occurring with bark beetles and western spruce budworm. There are generally six major forest types in the Rocky Mountains that change as elevation increases, as well as riparian forests that form along rivers and streams:

• Pinyon-Juniper Woodland
• Ponderosa Pine Forest
• Aspen Grove
• Lodgepole Pine Forest
• Spruce-Fir Forest
• Subalpine Forest
• Riparian Forest

Pacific Coastal Complex

The Pacific Coast of North America is very young and active in geological terms. As part of the “Ring of Fire,” earthquake and volcanic activity is common, and glaciers dramatically shaped the landscape in recent history. Despite the upheaval, the largest conifers on the planet reside in this region supported by the ample winter rainfall of a maritime climate, young volcanic soils, and a low frequency disturbance regime. Mountains like the Coast Range and Cascades, with peaks reaching 14000 feet, also have a profound impact upon the distribution of forests in the region. Not only do forest types change as elevation increases, but due to the rainshadow effect, annual precipitation is often less than 10 inches east of the mountains. Compared to annual precipitation totals often exceeding 100 inches along the coast, this creates a dramatic divergence of species and life history strategies within relatively close proximity. Land use history has also had a significant impact upon much of this region. The timber industry was extremely active from the late 1800s to the early 1980s, often clearcutting forests to allow young, vigorous trees to reestablish the sites. In recent decades, harvesting has slowed and there has been a political push to preserve the remaining areas of uncut forest. There are four general forest types common to the mountains of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and three forest types that dominate the coastal fogbelt from southern Alaska south to central California:

• Northwest Oak-Pine Forest
• Northwest Riparian Forest
• Douglas-fir Forest
• Subalpine Forest
• Spruce-Hemlock Forest
• Redwood Forest
• Closed-Cone Pine Forest

For or purposes we could fudge the boundary of the chapters. There is overlap of the ranges of some species, but that doesn't really create any problems.


The RMNTS would include - the Rocky Mountains and eastward to the eastern edge of the Great Plains. The WNTS would include the Pacific Coast Forest Complex, the Great Basin and areas eastward to the base of the Rocky Mountains. It would also include the boreal forests of western Canada and Alaska.

This is my suggestion. I am trying to work on the organizational structure of the organization so that it both promotes our own goals, and presents a professional appearance to people outside of the organization. I think this idea would help on both of those fronts. So what does everyone else think? Let the hate mail begin.

Edward Frank

by edfrank
Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:06 am
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Archaeology of Autumn

Archaeology of Autumn
by E. Forrest Frank

An archaeology of autumn covers the ground.
The story told as if pages in a book.

The first and deepest layer are the acorns of late summer,
The remembrances of squirrels and chipmunks working,
gathering these gifts for the winter to come.
Perhaps they paused now and then for a bit of play.

Black gum was the first to color in the latest summer,
reds, brilliant, fluorescent,
First to color and first to fall.

Maples came next. They flashed their flash of color,
yellows, oranges, and red. Then their moment passed.
Down they fell to crisp a carpet on earth.

Next came the grandest of the grand,
tuliptrees with leaves turned gold in the autumn light,
big leaves, bold leaves, the color of the sun.

The oaks are the last bastion of summer,
their leaves a muted rainbow of warm browns.
They hold tight to the limbs, clinging to the past,
waiting to release their grip
under the late fall rains or early snows of winter.
At last they drop.

The season completes its cycle,
The beginning and the end of the tale.
to form this archaeology of autumn.

Bad pretentious writing for your amusement.

by edfrank
Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:30 pm
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Beginnings of Laser Rangefinder Sine Based Tree Height Meas.


I prepared this document over the last month. I tried to forward this final copy to the various people mentioned prior to posting here, but it appears that the email have not gone through to the adressee's inboxes. I think the ISP, Comcast, in its infinite wisdom, has decided through its email filters that this post with an attachment is some sort of a phishing scheme. This is in spite of the fact that I get dozens of junk emails every day that are obvious phishing schemes that make it through the company's email filters. I have tried to email this through the BBS and my cc copy comes back labeled a phishing scheme. I give up. If any of the people mentioned have additional comments or corrections, please post a reply here, and I will revise the document.

Edward Frank

Beginnings of Laser Rangefinder Sine Based Tree Height Measurements
By Edward Frank, October 9, 2012

For years the standard method of measuring tree heights in the forestry industry was to first measure the distance to the base of the tree, then measure the inclination to the top of the tree with a clinometer. The height of the tree above eye level was equal to the tangent of the inclination times the distance to the base. This is the tangent method of tree height measurement. Indeed many clinometers were sold with a percentage slope scale, or even a scale that allowed a direct tree height reading using this method when the observer was a specified distance from the base of the tree – generally 66 feet. The method works adequately for measuring the height of marketable timber on these trees, but does not provide a good measurement of the total tree height for champion tree purposes or as data for scientific research and modeling.

Height above eye level = tan(a) x distance to tree trunk

People with an engineering or surveying background will realize that if the point sighted using the clinometer as the top of the tree is not directly over the base of the tree, a right angle triangle is not formed, and the tree height measurements will incorrect. The amount of error in the height will be equal to the amount of offset in the direction of the observer times the tangent of the inclination to the top. Common errors even when the measurements are made perfectly may be in the range of ten to twenty feet or more in the case of many broad crowned trees. In addition if the top of the tree is not correctly identified, the resulting height will also be wrong. For example sighting on a forward reaching branch can result in errors of up to 50 feet or more.

A simple solution to the methodological problems of the tangent method became available with the development of laser rangefinders. The first hand-held total station, which included a laser rangefinder and an electronic clinometer, was the Criterion released in 1992 by Laser Technology, Inc.


At this time there were a number of big tree hunters that already were measuring tall trees using the improved surveying techniques to replace the inadequate tangent method. There are several approaches to problem of accurately measure tree heights. One approach is to locate the point on the ground directly underneath the topmost point of the tree. Once this point is located, rather than just arbitrarily using the base of the tree trunk, the tangent based methods can be used to obtain true tree heights. If the point on the ground is directly under the top of the tree, then a right triangle is formed. The height of the tree above eye level in this right triangle is the tangent of the inclination to the top times the distance to the point at eye level directly under the top. The position on the ground directly under the top was found through cross-triangulation methods. Alternatively regular surveying techniques could be used to measure tree heights. If a direct line of sight to the top could be found from two different locations, and a direct line of sight could be obtained between the two or more) observation points, the angles between the survey stations, the angles from each to the top of the tree, and the distance between the survey station measured, then the position of the top of the tree in space relative to the survey station can be calculated. A third viable measurement technique is to climb the tree an directly measure the tree’s height using a long tape measure. All of these methods are time consuming and difficult to implement.

When using a laser rangefinder a much easier, quicker, and more straight forward methodology can be used to measure tree heights. It allows the surveyor to directly measure the distance from his position to the top of the tree. The using a clinometer the inclination to the top of the tree can be measured from the same position. The height of the tree above eye level is simply the sine of the inclination times the distance as measured by the laser rangefinder.

Height above eye level = sin (a) x distance to the top

With the use of a rangefinder, the height of the top and base above or below eye level can be measured independently. It no longer made any difference in the accuracy of the measurement if the top of the tree was not directly over the base or trunk of the tree. Nor did the amount of offset make any difference. This eliminates one major source of error present in the tangent method.

The other major source of error when using the tangent method is misidentifying the true top of the tree. Even with practice it is difficult to determine based upon visual clues alone which of several tops is actually the tallest. In addition to directly measuring the distance to the top, a laser rangefinder allows the surveyor scan the top of the tree to correctly identify which sprig is actually the tallest point of the tree visible from that position. In general, among several potential tops at similar angles, the sprig that is farthest away is tallest of the group.

The basic trigonometry of the situation shows the overall superiority of the sine based height measurements over the tangent based measurements. This should be readily apparent to anyone with a mathematically oriented background. Indeed the engineers at Laser Technologies built a Vertical Distance (Vd) routine into the Criterion instrument. Unfortunately they also included a tree height measurement routine based upon the tangent method as a paen to this long ingrained methodology typically used by forestry professionals.

At least three different people began using the sine based methodology to better pursue their tree measurement exploits. These people, Robert Van Pelt , Michael Taylor and , and Robert Leverett each began using the method independently in the late 1990’s. The first person to use the sine method, via the vertical distance routine in the Criterion, was Robert Van Pelt in northwestern Unites States.

Will Blozan (email 2012-10-01) talks about a conversation he had with Robert Van Pelt around this time:

I met BVP in 1993 when he stopped by a display I was presenting on big trees (in GRSM) at an ESA meeting in Knoxville. He gave me some leads on some trees which he had measured via tape drag triangulation. His display had some early versions of his GOPC drawings and he suggested getting a laser for measuring. This facet of tree documentation was then brought home at Cook Forest with the Longfellow Pine. [Longfellow Pine measurement was taken in 1997]

Steve Sillett (email 2012-10-01) writes:

I remember in the early 1990s working with Michael Taylor and he was using the tangent method because neither of us had a laser. In the mid-90s we started working with Van Pelt who had Jerry Franklin's Criterion. I think that was the first time any of us started using the sine method, which was obviously superior to the tangent method. All along my preferred method has been direct tape drop, which is the most accurate, though not always practical!

There are more accounts of the Longfellow Pine measurement available to confirm this event:
Longfellow Pine Update, Cook Forest, PA, by Dale Luthringer, April 10, 2008, History of measurements of the Longfellow pine: 11.1 178.1 July 1997 avg height of Impulse laser, surveyor's transit, laser rangefinder/clinometer by VanPelt, Leverett, Blozan, Soban

Michael Taylor another west coast tree hunter in an (email 2012-09-29) also confirms that Robert Van Pelt was the first person he saw using a laser rangefinder to measure tree heights. He can also fairly be considered an inventor of the use of the sine method. He writes (email 2012-09-29):

I was also using an optical range-finder [and Suunto clinometer] which I bought in 1993 (1994?) and was using the sine method with the optical rangefinder then as well. I still have that old thing. It was just accurate enough to be of some use.

I purchased my first reflector-less laser in 1994 (1995?), a Lytespeed-400 for $350. It was one of the first ever sold by Bushnell in California. I was on a waiting list for almost 6 months. I knew right away the benefits of finding the hypotenuse to the top with a reflector-less laser after I saw Bob using his Criterion 400. The price range had finally come into my reach. In 1994 the Criterion 400 was way out of my price range.

I used the sine method immediately with the Lytspeed 400. It was the obvious choice due to lean of tree being already figured out when you take the hypotenuse to the top.

In the eastern United States Robert Leverett was already by this time an obsessed tree measurer. Robert had been measuring tree heights using the standard tangent method as part of his documentation efforts to locate patches of old growth forests in the eastern United States. The story here is more detailed because of his extensive writing in the forums of the Eastern Native Tree Society and its successor the Native Tree Society. In 1992 he met with Jack Sobon, a professional surveyor among other skills, to measure the height of the Jake Swamp white pine and Joe Norton white pine at Mohawk Trail State Forest in MA. Jake Swamp is currently the tallest known tree, as of fall 2012, at just over 170 feet tall. In February 2006 he wrote:

The Joe Norton and Jake Swamp Pines are both white pines. Back in November of 1992 when Jack Sobon and I first measured the two trees with a transit. Before that, I'd only measured Joe, using crude techniques. Yep, I think that was in 1990. Am I obsessed or what? When Jack and I measured the two, Joe was 155.6 feet tall and Jake was 155.3. Joe has suffered more crown damage over the years.

This experience brought home the problems with the tangent method of tree height measurement and he set out to find ways to get better height measurements. Jumping to 1994, Robert Leverett wrote in July 2006:

Will Blozan, who worked for the GSMNP at the time, got into tree heights in a big way as a consequence of a joint mission we spawned in 1994. I'm sure Will had measured literally thousands of trees for diameter before that - far more than I had. We really got going as a team on our tree height mission in 1995 first as a consequence engineering the crown cross-triangulation method and later through acquiring the LiteSpeed 400 Laser Rangefinder from Bushnell, courtesy of information we got from BVP (who else?). The LiteSpeed 400, the Suunto Clinometer, the scientific calculator, and the proper application of nothing more than high school-level trigonometry has since revolutionized the measuring of tree heights.

Robert Leverett (email 2012-09-30) write more about the introduction of the laser rangefinder into the process:

I, like Michael, independently saw the application of the sine method with the Litespeed 400, and introduced it to ENTS in 1996. Will and I both bought Bushnell Litespeed 400s as a consequence of that model being recommended to Will by BVP at their first meeting in Tennessee...

The history is admittedly a little convoluted, partly because it is the obvious technique to employ if you can measure hypotenuse and angle. I would imagine countless scientists and engineers would just do it without giving thoughts to names. However, in terms of introducing the method by name to ENTS, i.e. sine method, that's me…and me alone.

I came to understand Bob's methodology in a later conversation when we discussed how we were actually measuring tree height. In the course of the conversation Bob explained that he used the "sine" method as one of the returns of the Impulse laser despite the traditional tangent method, which is programmed into the Impulse as an official tree height method.

I expect that BVP and possible Steve Sillett were the first to actually use the technique with infrared laser measuring equipment. Steve will have to explain when he first entered the picture. But, as it now stands, I would say that the sine method appears to have been arrived at independently by BVP, Sillett?, Michael Taylor, and yours truly. If there are others, they have not revealed their identity to us in conversation or writing.

Now, here is an important point. The sine method is the logical choice for measuring tree height if you have the equipment to measure hypotenuse distance and angle regardless of what name you affix to what you are doing. It is a no-brainer. Basic trigonometry. The forestry profession's fixation on tree trunks and insistence in establishing a common baseline to measure both the top and bottom height components turned a simple problem in basic trigonometry into an ocean of errors, as we have all witnessed.

I hope this sheds light on the issue. I cannot speak for others, so if they have additional information or clarifications, I do hope they'll come forward and speak for themselves. I'll close with a final point. I suppose sine method is as much a political name as an engineering or scientific one coined by me to hammer home the inefficacy of the slope or tangent method in measuring tree height.

Will Blozan (email 2012-10-01) confirms and expands upon this account of the methodology coming to ENTS:

I bought my first laser a few months after Bob L. after numerous phone conversations- who explained to me on the phone what to do (I still have my notes). I toyed around with some Smokies trees but my first major survey with the laser was in CONG, December 1996. Bob L. introduced the SINE method to me.

A description of the method was first published in 1997. Robert Leverett (email 2012-09-30) writes:

In terms of explaining the sine method in a publication, so far as I am aware, that occurred in "Stalking The Forest Monarchs - A Guide to Measuring Champion Trees", published by Will, Jack Sobon, and myself and brought to the 1997 old growth conference in PA in June 1997. However, we had been using the technique since sometime in 1996 - thanks to the Litespeed 400, which again, was recommended to Will by BVP in their initial meeting. Here is a for instance in the chronology. In Dec 26, 1996 Will went to Congaree for the first time to measure those trees using the Litespeed 400.

Robert Leverett wrote in January 2004 more about the publication of this book:

Back in 1995, Will Blozan, Jack Sobon, and I set out to write book. We researched the available material on eastern big tree sites and individual species such as the white pine, tulip tree, American sycamore, baldcypress, etc. We wanted to set the record straight about the giants of yesteryear. We also wanted to describe methods by which an interested person could accurately measure tree dimensions. We were on a holy crusade to clean up the champion tree registers, principally the National Register of Big Trees. The book, published in 1997, was entitled "Stalking the Forest Monarchs - A Guide to Measuring Champion Trees."

Even though it is currently out of print an excerpt from the book can be found online here: Excerpt from Stalking the Forest Monarchs


Since these beginnings the use of the sine method of measuring tree heights has spread among many big tree hunters in the western United States, among the measurers of Native Tree Society, and among scattered people around the globe associated with these groups. An interesting example of this methodology spreading can be documented from Australia. After the introduction of laser rangefinders in the mid 1990’s, there were a number of publications from the Australia that detail the use of lasers for tree height measurement. Two examples from Tasmania are: Tasmania’s tallest trees by J.E. Hickey, P. Kostoglou and G.J. Sargison, in Tasforests Vol. 12 December 2000 and A survey of ultra tall eucalypts in southern Tasmania, A report to Forestry Tasmania By Parry Kostoglou, June, 2000 . In both of these investigations they used a laser ‘Impulse Series 2000’ rangefinder manufactured by Laser Technology Inc. It is clear from the descriptions that the tree height function utilizing the tangent method was being used by the investigators based upon their description of usage and the errors generated.

The change to the sine method was documented in a publication from 2002: Victoria’s tallest trees by Brett M. Mifsud in Australian Forestry Vol. 66, No. 3 pp. 197–205, Revised manuscript received 25 November 2002, Brett Mifsud writes:

Measuring tree heights

New techniques for measuring tall trees were used in this study. Initially, a Bushnell ‘500 Yardage Pro’ laser rangefinder was used in conjunction with a Suunto clinometer to estimate tree heights in all regions. The previously-used ‘simple tan’ method of measuring tall trees was discarded in favour of the ‘sine’ method (M. Taylor pers. comm. 2000; A. Goodwin, Forestry Tasmania, pers. comm. 2001). In order to measure the height of the tree from eye level to the top-most leaves or dead branch, a direct distance from the ground to the top was measured with the rangefinder, then the angle to the top was measured by the clinometer, and trigonometry was used to calculate the vertical height. The same technique was used to calculate the difference in height between ground level at the base of the tree and eye level. Ground level was determined as the average between the high and low points of ground at the base of the tree. The rangefinder was also used for a second check on potentially tall trees: it was fired from directly below the canopy at an angle of elevation of close to, or exactly, 90°. As many mature mountain ash have open irregular crowns, it was often possible to record the tallest leaves in this fashion from directly below, thereby confirming the height assessed from a distance. When trees of extreme height were found, that is those ≥88 m, an arborist climbed the tree and used a tape measure to get an accurate height figure; that is, to the nearest 10 cm. (Fig. 3). The arborist also was often able to locate taller or equally tall trees across the skyline of the forest canopy. The difference between the height estimated by laser and the arborist’s direct tape drop never differed by more than ±75 cm and was usually within 30 cm, so the laser-estimated heights for trees that were not subsequently climbed can be considered to be accurate ±75 cm.


Special thanks to Tom Greenwood for his tree climbing expertise, Michael Taylor for his generosity in providing both the rangefinder and the knowledge of how to use it properly, and James Ashton for invaluable assistance in the presentation of this report.

It is particularly interesting to see these comments documenting the point at which the sine method was adopted halfway around the world from its multiple birthplaces here in North America.

In a more recent publication, The Effect of the Black Saturday Bushfires - on Victoria's tallest trees by Brett Mifsud, The Forester, Volume 55, Number 1 - March 2012 Mifsud comments on the effect of laser rangefinders on tree surveys:

However, the assumption that Cumberland did indeed have the tallest trees was proven quite incorrect with the advent of laser rangefinders in the late 1990s. By using a rangefinder, a single surveyor could accurately measure hundreds of trees in a single day. Following the first major surveys of the old growth E. regnans forests in Melbourne‘s water catchments, it was found that many hundreds of trees in the Wallaby Creek and O‘Shannassy catchments far exceeded the heights of those in the Cumberland Tall Trees Scenic Reserve (Mifsud 2003).

The Native Tree Society continues to promote the adoption of the sine method through our website, BBS, Facebook page, publications, events, conferences, personal communications, interviews, and measurement workshops. A more detailed explanation of the methodology and discussions can be found in Tree Measuring Guidelines of the Eastern Native Tree Society by Will Blozan (October 2004, revised 2008) and in ” The Really, Really Basics of Laser Rangefinder/Clinometer Tree Height Measurements” by Edward Frank, January 12, 2010 Critical reviews of the sine method have been published by U. S. Forest researchers: Bragg, Don C., 2008. An improved tree height measurement technique tested on mature southern pines. South. J. Appl. For. 32(1): 38-43. and Bragg, Don C., 2007. The sine method as a more accurate height predictor for hardwoods. P. 23–32 in Proc., 15th Central Hardwood Forest Conf., Buckley, D.S., and W.K. Clatterbuck (eds.). US For. Serv. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-101.

by edfrank
Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:03 pm
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Biogradska Gora – two new broadleaf tree height records


The virgin forest reservation (16 km²) of Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro, consists of a mountain valley and surrounding mountains (up to 2117 metres). There is a small lake, Biogradsko Jezero, at the valley bottom (elev. 1100 m).

Soils are acid as they are underlain by silicate metamorphic rocks instead of limestone which dominates much of the western Balkans. Annual precipitation is quite high, approx. 2 200 mm. There is no drought period despite the Mediterranean rainfall distribution, with most rain falling outside the growing season. The forest in this park is one of the few true old-growth forests remaining in Europe outside Russia and Fennoscandia. The area has been protected since 1878, when the forest was already old.

The tree flora consists mainly of species common in Central Europe. The most common tree species are European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ), European silver fir ( Abies alba ) and Norway spruce ( Picea abies ), on the valley bottom and around the lake also sycamore maple ( Acer pseudoplatanus ). At the end of the lake around the delta of an inflowing creek (Biogradska Rijeka), there is lush moist forest composed mainly of European ash ( Fraxinus excelsior ) and grey alder ( Alnus incana ), with leaf butterbur ( Petasites hybridus ) dominating the understorey.

Between this moist forest and the lake there is a still wetter area, seasonally flooded each year, with stands of white willow ( Salix alba ). Other tree species include Norway maple ( Acer platanoides ), wych elm ( Ulmus glabra ), large-leaved linden ( Tilia platyphyllos ) and goat willow ( Salix caprea ). According to the national park information, 86 tree species have been found in the park but this is a translation error: they mean woody species including shrubs.

Kouta explored this park in 2008 but without a rangefinder or even a tape. His recollections about tree heights were not very good. He thought the trees he saw were not extremely tall but we found in this park two new height records. They are: sycamore maple 40.6 meters (133 ft., this tree was dead but still standing) and wych elm 40.4 m (133 ft.).


We also found a 39.2-meter (129 ft) large-leaved linden which was the height record at the time, but after our trip a 41.6-meter (136 ft) large-leaved linden has been found in France by a French measurer. The tallest tree we found was 59-meter (194 ft.) Norway spruce. It is not located on the valley bottom but on a lower NE facing slope. It was noticed as a tree top emerging above other trees.

The thickest tree was the biggest spruce Kouta found in 2008. The photo below is from Kouta’s 2008 trip.

Its circumference at different heights:
At 1.3 m: 671 cm
At 1.5 m: 631 cm
At 2.2 m: 503 cm
At 2.6 m: 480 cm (above the buttresses)
We estimated its volume as 40-50 cubic meters. Kouta had originally thought it was not very tall, but it was actually the third tallest tree we measured in Biogradska Gora, 56.2 m. Below it from another perspective.

The second tallest was also a Norway spruce, 57.2 m. 54-55 m tall spruces were quite common. The tallest silver fir, we measured, was 53.6 m (176 ft.). We estimated its volume as approx. 35 cubic meters.

We explored a good proportion of the valley bottom but as the tallest tree was growing on a slope there are good chances a more thorough exploration would reveal still taller trees, at least conifers.

The Biogradska gora part of Michael's travelogue can be read here:

Kouta, Jeroen & Michael

The tallest reliably measured sycamore maple is now 41.5 m (139 ft) tall:
The tallest reliably measured wych elm is now 44.0 m (144) tall:
by KoutaR
Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:41 pm
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Crna Poda – a new height record for European black pine


Durmitor National Park is the best-known nature destination in Montenegro. It is a mountainous area at 700–2500 metres above sea level.

In the eastern extension of the park, the Tara River has carved into limestone a canyon which is said to be the second deepest in the world (max. depth 1300m) after the Grand Canyon, though the Colca Canyon in Peru also lays claim to the “deepest in the world” title and the Blue Nile Canyon in Ethiopia is probably deeper than the Tara. Tara is not the only deep canyon in Montenegro: Piva and Platije are equally impressive. European black pine ( Pinus nigra ) typically grows stunted on steep to vertical slopes.

Crna Poda (elev. 840–940 metres) is a terrace formed in the middle of a very steep slope of Tara Canyon.

Almost level terrain has allowed deep soil to accumulate and black pine has formed a tall forest. European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) is invading the forest, preventing pine regeneration. Now the forest looks like a normal beech forest which has an additional emergent layer of black pine.

The pines are about 400 years old. Some cut stumps can be seen. Other tree species include sycamore maple ( Acer pseudoplatanus ) and wild cherry ( Prunus avium ).

The www-site of the park states Crna poda has black pines up to 50m in height. The tallest we measured was 47.4 m (156 ft.) which is a new record for laser-measured trees. The CBH of this tree is 296 cm. It is growing next to the road running through Crna Poda.

The thickest single-trunked pine had CBH as 418 cm. Although Crna poda is relatively small, we had not time to explore the whole forest, so it is possible that there are still taller pines. We measured several trees 44–46 m in height. However, the tallest pine (any member of genus Pinus ) of Europe does probably not grow in Crna Poda but in Tenerife where a Canary Island pine ( P. canariensis ) has reached 56-60 m (184-197 ft) depending on the source (the measurement method not known).

The beeches are still relatively young, but some have already reached almost 40m in height.

Two weeks after our visit wildfires burned large patches of the slopes of the Tara Canyon and threatened also Crna poda but firefighters were able to save most of it. There is a video of the wildfires here:
Fire must be an integral part of these forests, and the existence of Crna Poda’s black pine forest may well be a consequence of an intense fire in the past. Without disturbances beech appears to replace shade-intolerant black pine.

Outside the Tara Canyon the forests of the park are selectively logged and grazed by cattle. We also explored in the Zminje Jezero Prašumski Rezervat (primeval forest reserve, 10 ha, elev. 1500–1600 metres) of Durmitor National Park. Kouta had thought in 2008 that the Norway spruces ( Picea abies ), he saw there, were very tall, but immediately after reaching the reserve we (including Kouta, now with two and half years of measuring experience) saw that the spruces are not very tall; the tallest was only 49 m, with a CBH of 479 cm.

Despite the name the reserve is not primeval forest: it hardly differs from the forest outside the reserve (the most remarkable difference being perhaps the existence of beech) and there are a lot of stumps, openings and young forest. This forest is dominated by Norway spruce, European silver fir ( Abies alba ) and beech: a very common composition of central and southern European mountain forest.

The Durmitor part of Michael's travelogue can be read here:

Kouta, Jeroen & Michael
by KoutaR
Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:20 pm
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Amazon Giants Trip Report from Peru

From the Peruvian Amazon Part 1: Notes on two giant lowland tree species, Ceiba pentandra and Ceiba samauma

Having returned from Peru 10 days ago, I have finally compiled the data from two separate trips to the Peruvian Amazon during which I spent several days each time searching for notable trees in the Seasonally Flooded Forest and in the higher Terra Firme Forest where annual flooding does not occur. Accompanying me was my friend of 15 years Weninger Pinedo Flores who had scouted out promising locations ahead of time. Weninger works as a guide at the Tahuayo Lodge on the Tahuayo River where I had built a zip line platform system in the trees several years ago and where I make annual trips for safety inspections and maintenance work. On the most recent trip and on a trip In September of 2011 we located several impressive trees by following "restingas" in swampy areas in flood forest environments. Restingas are low ridges that follow the edges of swamps and often run between small rivers and swamps.

This sort of environment which floods for 2-3 months each year, is the home of both the "Giant Lupuna Tree and the "Wimba" (formerly spelled Huimba) tree. These two trees are respectively Ceiba pentandra and Ceiba samauma . They are two of the most massive trees in the Amazon basin and are treated as sacred by many peoples in both Central and South America. Only C. pentandra however, is found in most of Central America and Mexico. From the research I was able to do I have a hunch that the Wimba tree gets a bit taller, while the Lupuna tree may get a slightly larger crown spread which, in my experience and according to some accounts, can reach a little over 200' at its greatest spread. Measuring crown spread in a closed canopy forest at all can definitely be a challenge, and difficult to do accurately, as the tips of the longest horizontal branches are often obscured by the foliage on lower mid canopy trees. I believe both of these two closely related giants have the potential to exceed a 200' height as well, at least in exceptional individuals. The more obvious differences between the C. samauma and the C. pentandra are that C. pentandra has more spines on its branches than C. samauma which also has somewhat rougher darker bark at it's base than does C. pentandra . These are useful distinctions because the leaves, and flowers or fruits if any, are often far away and hard to see well.


Interestingly there is a lot of confusion surrounding the name "Kapok Tree". Recently, my friend Lynn Cherry who wrote the wonderful 1990 children's book "The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest" was surprised to hear that the term Kapok refers to several species of trees in the Bombacaceae family rather than just the single species Ceiba pentandra . I, like Lynn and many others had also assumed that this name referred only to the single species until I discovered that the "Kapok" trees that had been pointed out to me over the years were actually of several different species. When you ask a local Amazonian in Peru "is that a Kapok tree" he or she assumes you are asking if the tree in question produces the cottony substance kapok, which is still collected and used to stuff pillows and mattresses, and was historically used to stuff most life vests. This kapok material is produced from large seed pods and floats on the wind, dispersing the seeds contained individually in the center of each fluffy floating ball of cottony silk.


The kapok producing species are in the Bombacoidea subfamily of Malvaceae along with the famous balsa tree ochroma pyramidale and the also impressive green striped Pseudobombax septanatum "punga tree" ( Pachira aquatica is also called punga)as well as four other members of this Ceiba genus of lesser stature than the two giants, but all of them produce the silky cotton which permits the wind to disperse their seeds. Wimba, by the way, means kapok in a local dialect, and the confusion surrounding kapok has lead to a total mess on the internet regarding local names, however I am using the terms used by the locals I work with which are consistent with Pennington and his fellow authors in the Illustrated Guide to the Trees of Peru (2004).

I have been back almost two weeks from my last trip, and I was pleased to discover on this trip to Peru, that our tallest previously measured tree, not a Ceiba species, had grown a few feet. I was also thrilled to discover the largest Wimba tree yet for me and Weninger.

The tree images I am including are only of the two largest ceiba species, but I will have further posts of taller and stranger species in the follow up posts. These Ceiba trees have been awe inspiring for those that have seen them and though these are from past posts, I want to mention that my friend Phil Wittman measured the Iconic Ceiba pentandra which is the mascot for the "Ceiba Tops" lodge directly on the banks of the Amazon at 183' in height using the Nikon 440 rangefinder and a clinometer, though it's circumference above the buttresses was not measured. I estimate that it is around 20' in circumference at minimum. See my previous posts for images. Generally, once you are over the buttresses of either of these trees, the trunk is rather cylindrical with little taper. Also in a previous post I measured two separate large C. pentandras over 33' in circumference, though neither was over 150' in height. I have a lead on several others in Central America which I will visit this Summer. I responded to these trees much the way that people of some of the Central and South American tribes have, feeling that the true monarchs of this species should be regarded as sacred, and that any attempts to turn them into commercial products should be considered a Sacrilege.
by Bart Bouricius
Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:50 pm
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"The President" giant sequioa, SNP, CA

The December 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine features as its cover story an article on "The President," a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park California.


The text of the article can be viewed online, but by doing so you will miss some the beautiful images from the print version of the article and a large scale poster of the entire tree also available in the print edition. The article is by David Quammen, and the photographs are by Micheal Nichols who did the December 2009 portraits of giant redwoods in National Geographic


The web version of the poster is here:

The article describes Steve Sillett's teams effort to map the detailed branch structure of one of the world's largest trees by volume. Will Blozan was one of the team hired to do the mapping.

by edfrank
Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:06 am
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Tallest Eucalypts in Santa Cruz County

The tallest hardwoods in North America are the Eucalyptus globulus located in California. The tallest on this list of groves I discovered is not the tallest eucalypt in North America or the Northern or Western Hemispheres, for that matter. The tallest eucalypt in the Northern and Western Hemispheres is a tree on Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands in Southern California. This tree was last measured to be 246.2 feet (75 meters) tall. For everyone's information, the tallest eucalypt in Europe, a Eucalyptus diversicolor , stands 236.2 feet (72 meters) in height. The tallest eucalypt in Northern California is the 241.2-foot (73.5-meter) Eucalyptus globulus that I discovered in December 2011. It was recently measured, on November 20, 2012, to be 241.27 feet tall (73.53 meters), using a tripod-mounted Impulse 200 LR and prism. To be thorough, in the Southern Hemisphere, the tallest eucalypt in the world is the Eucalyptus regnans , last measured at 99.6 meters (326.7 feet) in Tasmania, Australia. The tallest tree in Africa is a Eucalyptus saligna at 79 meters (259 feet), though a tree in the area, which fell in 2006, was 81.5 meters (267.3 feet). To be clear, in the Northern Hemisphere, the tallest angiosperm is not a eucalypt. It is a Shorea faguetiana in Borneo that measures 88.1 meters (289.0 feet) tall.

Eucalyptus globulus Groves in Santa Cruz County* (as measured by laser rangefinder) - 200'+
Height (ft.), DBH (ft.)
241.27', 5.17'
235.67', 4.25'
208.0', 4.78'
203.5', 6.34' *

*tallest known grove in Santa Clara County (to the north of Santa Cruz County)

As a note, in 2012, the Santa Cruz Island Eucalyptus globulus (the tallest eucalypt outside of the Australian mainland, Tasmania, and Africa) was scheduled to be cut down because it was a non-native species. This was revoked recently due to a lack of governmental funds. However, if this tree gets cut, then the tallest known eucalypt in the Northern Hemisphere will be the tallest I found in Santa Cruz County, California. The tallest tree on this list is not right next to a road and will most likely not be cut down anytime soon. Based on its smaller DBH and the availability of water in the area, I believe that this tree will grow quite rapidly in the next few years.
by yofoghorn
Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:13 pm
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Re: Green Lakes State Park 4/24/2011

I got a couple of good shots of green lakes on September 21rst of this year. First, the obligatory Google Earth shot of the Lakes. The Tuliptree Cathedral is circled in red.

Grenn lakes.jpg






by Rand
Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:32 pm
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