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Very Large Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii) in Merrickville

I tend to always be on the lookout for native species which are uncommon or rare. Rock Elm is one of those species, having been first extensively logged for valuable wood and then has declined further due to Dutch Elm Disease.
Well, here is some good news. At the historical "Percival House", I found this absolute monster Rock Elm in the town of Merrickville: 92 ft tall by 128 inch CBH (almost 3.5 ft average DBH). The tree is old: its bark at ground level is balding significantly. There is no evidence it has been treated to combat Dutch Elm Disease.
I wonder if this may be the champion living Rock Elm in 2013? Though the species was historically documented to frequently attain 100ft tall by 5ft DBH, the widely scattered "big" ones I find today are generally 60-70 ft tall by 2-2.5 ft DBH. I don't have an accurate crown spread measurement, but the Merrickville tree has a reasonable spread for the species appearing to be on average around 60-70 ft.
Here's a couple of street view links, and I attached a photo of the balding trunk. I would be happy to attach other photos on request.
http://goo.gl/maps/Z53u4
http://goo.gl/maps/8QEft
Owen
by wrecsvp
Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:41 pm
 
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Big Black Spruce

In November I visited a large tract of Acadian Forest in the vicinity of Ayers Lake NB. This forest has large and old examples of trees such as Hemlock, Red Spruce, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple, White Ash, and Red Oak. I have a few significant findings from this trip, which I will post here from time to time, somewhat mirroring posts made on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/AyersLakeAndSurroundingForest.
I start with this fantastic Black Spruce I measured there: with my nikon 550 I got a an even 100' tall and a CBH of 72.5". Didn't measure the crown spread, but this is both taller and has a slightly larger bole than the largest one in the American Forests DB:
http://www.americanforests.org/bigtree/picea-mariana/ lists a tree in NH at 93' tall with a cirucumference of 71"

100ft_black_spruce.JPG
by wrecsvp
Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:23 pm
 
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Re: Big Black Spruce

Hi Matt,
what a coincidence, I hadn't realized that Larry just posted some other huge Black Spruce in Wisconsin! Thanks for letting me know. As people are then probably in the mood for seeing big black spruce, I'll post a couple other large ones I found in NB.
Owen
by wrecsvp
Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:33 pm
 
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Re: Big Black Spruce

A couple of other big Picea mariana from the same site:

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bigblackspruce_2.JPG
by wrecsvp
Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:44 pm
 
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Re: Big Black Spruce

Matt, don't feel too silly as this opens the door to a long-time question for me at least...
Does anybody have suggestions where to submit champion candidate trees found in Canada? Things seem pretty undocumented on my side of the international border (working on that!). It would be nice, as was naively implied earlier in the thread, to have a North American database which doesn't worry about human-invented political borders.
by wrecsvp
Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:58 pm
 
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Re: Big Black Spruce

Hi Matt,
yes I make sure to use the 2 point sine method. Some time back, I had a quick e-discussion with Ed to make sure I was following NTS protocols for heights. I measure each tree I report a height for at least 2-3 times to make sure the height is reproducible. As a general approach, I try to report a conservative "lower-bound" height: i.e. the tree is at least as tall as the height quoted, many of them could be taller by a foot or two.
Best,
Owen
by wrecsvp
Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:30 pm
 
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Big Red Spruce

Hi everyone,
Here is a very large Red Spruce (Picea rubens) that I found in November at the same forest near Ayers Lake NB where I found the big Black Spruces in the previous topic. This tree is 109' tall by 82" CBH, towering above its neighbours. I believe this is the largest Red Spruce known in Canada and probably among the largest known in the Northern USA as well.
Owen
by wrecsvp
Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:37 pm
 
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Re: Big Red Spruce

Hi Jess,

the forest seems to be typical "old growth" to me, but there's so little of that left I'm not sure what my calibration should be. I get the feeling that much of the wider area would have supported trees like this at the time of European settlement. The spruces I've shared so far are certainly the exceptions I encountered, but I have also only looked around for a couple of days of what I've heard to be is a 2000-acre forest, and there are very many large trees I can see from lookouts, but have not walked up to them for a closer look. The trees generally looked very similar in size to what I'm used to in the scraps of old forest left in Eastern Ontario/West Quebec, but then again this is practically around the same latitude as Ayers Lake.

The 109' red spruce is growing on a gentle S-facing slope, well-drained with lots of moisture, and the trees around it are large but very typical in size with heights being around 70-85 ft. This spruce really stood out for height (made me stop in my tracks), though I did generally see a few other large red spruce in the ~90-95' tall range.

The Black spruce seemed exceptional to me. I've read about them being big trees, but this is the first time I've seen it. They were growing on a moist to somewhat wet lowland in an area dominated by Eastern White Cedar. The impression I had is that this is ideal Black Spruce habitat: too wet for most other species to compete but well within the parameters Black Spruce favours. My guess: a few of them seem to survive long enough in the Thuja shade to outgrow them when a canopy hole forms and then the spruce shoot through the ceiling to become canopy-emergent trees.

Other species: I didn't find any tall hemlocks, but a number of them are quite stocky in the 3-3.5' DBH range.
Some of the White Ash are quite large, the only one I measured was 102' tall.

One thing to note is that I did not see a single tall (i.e. 100'+) White Pine and very few White Pine in general. Also did not see any Red Pine. Makes me wonder if they were selectively removed long ago.

Owen
by wrecsvp
Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:04 pm
 
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Re: Big Red Spruce

Hi Bob,
I have just posted the big White Ash. It is 102' tall by 115" CBH.

NTS posts from you and others have got me thinking about the size variation of trees with growing conditions for the last couple of years. I've explored my region fairly thoroughly and comment on some of the trends below.

Ottawa ON district:
Trees here start to look tall at around 80'. I have to search around pretty thoroughly to find 100'+ specimens for most of the taller species.

I would say that indeed White Ash is one of the taller hardwoods I typically encounter. They are commonly 80-90' tall. I've found a few of them around 100' tall by 3' diameter, but these are not common. I've been really looking for them lately with Emerald Ash Borer already having a big impact in my region. Green Ash is more common than White and sometimes gets pretty stocky (4' diameter) but is rarely taller than 85'.

Basswood is also frequently one of the taller hardwoods, often around 90' and sometimes a little above 100'.

Sugar Maple often is dominant in the stand but is rarely very tall, they are usually around 80' and rarely to 90'.

It has been my casual observation that Red Maple is often taller than Sugar Maple, I've found them up to 100' tall and nearly 4' diameter.

Beech seems to max out at around 90-95'.

I don't think I've seen a Yellow Birch much above 80'.

American and Rock Elms seem to grow well (apart from DED). American Elms often achieved 90' and sometimes up to 110'. Rock Elm seems to outgrow Sugar Maple when associated with it, but its population is low. I posted a big old 92' tall one in Sept on ENTS. Slippery Elm is also uncommon, and does not appear to exceed about 75'.

Bur Oak grows very well, often pushing towards 90' tall with relatively massive trunks.

I've not measured some of the taller Red Oaks I know about, but I would guess they can exceed 100' on good sites.

Eastern Cottonwood is commonly 90-110', rarely above 110'.

White Pine: I've found them up to 125' in Gillies Grove at Arnprior (an old growth remnant, typical heights in this small forest are 100-120'), but it is unusual to find them above 110' in my region, where almost no old white pine is left. I've seen White Pine north to between Wakefield and Maniwaki QC and they appear (without measurement) to remain about as tall as I'm used to.

Hemlock: The tallest I've found is 99' (also Gillies Grove), big and old ones are usually 65-80'.

White Spruce: I found a very large one a few years back that I estimated without the laser to be 110', it unfortunately blew over after acquiring butt rot.

Owen
by wrecsvp
Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:44 pm
 
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Big White Ash

This is probably the largest White Ash I saw at the Ayers Lake forest, 102' tall by 115" CBH. It is growing on a slope facing WSW, primarily with other White Ash, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, Hemlock and Red Spruce. Its relatively striking appearance may have saved its life: a strip of forest has been cut around it apparently for a road, but even though the Ash is located at the edge of this strip it was spared.

Owen
by wrecsvp
Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:33 pm
 
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Black vs Red (vs White) Spruce

Larry asked about how Black and Red Spruce needles differ, so I thought I'd post a handful of photos. I also include White Spruce, as it is abundant in the North and often ornamentally planted there.

General Differences:

Black Spruce: dark usually colourless, relatively flaky bark (can be a bit like Black Cherry). Trunks relatively slender (< 2ft DBH usually). Crown narrow, almost like Balsam Fir. Needles relatively short and blunt, can look a bit like a "succulent" plant; needle colour bluish-grayish green. Cones short, egg-shaped, often persistent on tree for a long time; bright purple before maturing. Not a "climax" forest tree, relatively shade intolerant, typically found on rather wet lowland soils but can be on higher ground (likely limited due to competition). Twigs have minute hairs.

Red Spruce: dark or reddish, somewhat flaky bark. Crown typically broad, much broader than Black Spruce and still more so than White Spruce; crown is not "bushy", sometimes appearing to have annual whorls like a pine. Old forest grown trees can aquire a crown reminiscent of White Pine or Douglas Fir. Needles a shiny yellowish-green, especially when growing in shade. Cones medium-length between short Black S and longer cones of White S; they are yellowish brown and are shed annually. Buds often reddish, small and conical, often with a few wispy scales extending beyond bud tip. Very shade-tolerant, often in "climax forests" both in over- and understory; grows from dry uplands to moist slopes to bog edges with Black Spruce (may hybridize with Black S there). Twigs have minute hairs, less so than Black Spruce.

White Spruce: bark is least flaky of the three, often with pinkish-reddish colouration/blotches. Crown width intermediate between narrow Black and broader Red S, sometimes "bushy" in appearance. Needles longer than Red or especially Black S, bluish-green. Cones longer than those of Red or especially Black Spruce, not as yellowish-brown as Red S, cones shed annually. Somewhat shade-tolerant, a bit of a generalist in habitat and can be found on many kinds of sites. Twigs hairless.
by wrecsvp
Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:47 pm
 
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CBC interview on large New Brunswick Black (and Red) Spruces

The local media picked up the story of Champion-calibre spruces at Ayers Lake NB
http://www.cbc.ca/shift/2013/12/16/very ... xcitement/
by wrecsvp
Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:15 pm
 
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Old Sugar Maple

...again at Ayers Lake NB. This was the largest Acer saccharum I found at the site, 83' tall by 112.75" CBH. Not just a biggie, I love the character on display as well! Showing plenty of old-tree attributes such as: downslope lean (away from photo vantage point), thick wood up high on gnarled and spreading branches, balding bark on south side of a twisted trunk.
Owen
by wrecsvp
Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:32 pm
 
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Re: Very Large Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii) in Merrickville

I went on a roadtrip today and took a few winter photos of the "Merrickville Monster", lightly coated with freezing rain.
by wrecsvp
Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:32 pm
 
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Classic White Oak (Quercus alba) near Vineland Station, ONT

This tree is a block south of the QEW highway on Victoria Avenue, just south of Lake Ontario in the Niagara Peninsula where it must be relatively well protected from winter winds. 193.5 " CBH (5'2" DBH). Photos and measurement by Pat Morris, a nearby resident who has admired the tree for many years.

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by wrecsvp
Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:27 pm
 
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Big American Elm (Ulmus americana) in downtown Aylmer

One of the largest American Elms in the Ottawa district grows in downtown Aylmer QC. TLC is not something that this tree is familiar with; note that it is nearly surrounded by asphalt, complete with a dumpster at its base! Still an impressive old tree, 88' tall by 184" circumference (CBH) or 58.6" = 1.48 m diameter (DBH) HPIM1667.JPG elm_american_Aylmer_Composite.JPG
by wrecsvp
Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:32 pm
 
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Growth form variation in Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii)

Books often claim that Rock Elm has a non-elm-like growth habit e.g. more like green ash or pignut hickory. I find this to be sometimes true and sometimes not, with a significant percentage of Rock Elm I encounter looking as if they could fall within the (very large) growth form spectrum of American Elm.

Here's a photo from last spring to illustrate this point (taken ~10km NW of Aylmer QC):
The tall tree on the right is a "non-elm-form" Rock Elm with upright habit, narrow crown of horizontal branches, thick cork on twigs, and sprouts from roots.
The very different-looking tall tree on the left is also Rock Elm, but this one has something of an elm-like growth habit I would reckon. Note the much wider somewhat vase-like crown, strongly pendulous branches, light cork on twigs (absent in places) and lack of root sprouts.

The funny thing about this photo is that I was invited to see the tree on the right by the landowner who knew its identity as a thomasii but didn't recognize the tree on the left as also being a Rock Elm until I pointed it out. If anything I would say the left tree is more typical of the growth form, but it looks not very different at a glance than American Elm and is apt to be confused with it.

Thankfully, I find the buds of Rock Elm (yellowish-brown, narrowly conical, ~symmetrical, pointy) to be a foolproof ID feature when the caricature traits of the species (e.g. cork, monopodial growth form, root sprouting) are absent.

a_tale_of_two_rock_elms.jpg
by wrecsvp
Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:44 pm
 
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Re: Ponca State Park, NE

Hi Jess,
I just noticed this thread and will comment a bit late in the game. Very interesting to see Rock Elms you found in Nebraska, at the far western part of its range. You are correct that Rock Elm is capable of much larger dimensions. I note this species wherever I find it (mainly looking in eastern Ontario) and it attains large size on good soils; 80+' by 3' DBH seems easily attainable. A few months ago I posted a 92' tall by 128" CBH one I found in Merrickville on the Ontario page (I lazily haven't entered this in the NTS database yet). There's a few large ones in Ottawa in the 80' by 3' range. There aren't many old ones left which have escaped logging or Dutch Elm Disease, but the species when found seems to keep up with or surpass many of its associates such as Sugar Maple, Basswood, Bitternut Hickory, Slippery Elm, Butternut, Red Ash, Bur Oak, etc.
Owen
by wrecsvp
Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:11 pm
 
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Stately Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) ~10 km NW of Aylmer

This is the most massive Slippery Elm that I'm aware of in the Ottawa area. 65' tall by 100" CBH. Quite a decent crown spread, and as is typical for the species each main branch appears to have a mind of its own.
by wrecsvp
Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:42 pm
 
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Re: Very Large Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii) in Merrickville

This notable tree is now immortalized as a work of art by well-known Nature artist and friend Aleta Karstad.
http://karstaddailypaintings.blogspot.c ... s36-x.html
by wrecsvp
Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:13 am
 
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Big Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii) in Hartington

This is my current runner-up in size compared to the Merrickville one, just found it yesterday.
85' tall, 123.75" CBH. No evidence of any Dutch Elm Disease prevention. Pruned significantly toward utility wires 2 years ago according to owner, so is a little lopsided.
by wrecsvp
Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:55 pm
 
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~250 ring count Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii) near Crysler

at Reveler Conservation Area near Crysler Ontario.

This tree has approximately 250 growth rings. It was growing on a limestone rocky upland site, and was surrounded by a fairy-ring of root suckers (some of which are also dying). The species is abundant here, with several large and old specimens present and good seedling reproduction occuring after a mast seed crop in 2013. The tree died of Dutch Elm disease this year, and was cut shortly after. Only about 12-15" diameter (didn't have measuring tape), see 2x4s of picnic table for scale. I show three photos of the same tree's X-section; periods of suppression are clearly visible and an check out the old injury completely healed up. The species is evidently quite shade tolerant and when found in eastern Ontario is often in the dense shade of woods in the understory. The heartwood is to me of a beautiful appearance, and true to reputation is extremely hard and tough. Thanks to Ian Reveler for preparing the X-section, and alerting me to the significant age of the tree.

I also show a 4-th photo of a different tree; typical of the old field-grown Ulmus thomasii at the same site, taken about a month ago.

This calcium-rich site contains species I find significant with locally abundant populations, such Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii), Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra), Black Maple (Acer nigrum), many Butternut (Julgans cinerea) still appearing healthy, and Canada Plum (Prunus nigra).
by wrecsvp
Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:26 pm
 
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Big White Spruce (Picea glauca) in Ottawa

I thought I'd share this nice White Spruce (Picea glauca) that I found today in rich mesic woods near Constance Bay (west Ottawa). 103' tall by 79.5" CBH. Second tallest example of the species that I've found in eastern Ontario.
by wrecsvp
Sat Feb 21, 2015 6:52 pm
 
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Re: Big White Spruce (Picea glauca) in Ottawa

Hi Matt:
this one was an emergent tree at the forest's edge from a mature Hemlock grove on rich mesic clay/loam, near Russell Ontario. It was a little taller; I had measured it to about 110'. I returned later to photograph the tree, and found that it had blown over. It was vigorous to the end; it had put on about 5" in height in its final growing season
by wrecsvp
Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:43 pm
 
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White Pine (Pinus strobus) at Gillies Grove, Arnprior

Made a trip to Arnprior (Gillies Grove) on May 24th with naturalist Arthur Goldsmith and members of my family to measure the well-known tall White Pines (Pinus strobus) there, and especially "the" tall White Pine lately in the news (link below). Nothing obviously remarkable about the site (level ground, etc.), apart from the fact that the White Pines were never logged from it. I am happy to say we confirmed a number of trees taller than what I had previously measured at the site (125'), with a small handful found to be 130+' tall. I measured the "tallest" tree several times, and found it to be consistently between 135-140' tall, with one measurement reporting 141' (43m) which as optimists we can take as "the" measurement from my device. One of the best stands of White Pine in Ontario, with many trees in the 110-130' tall range. Well worth the visit.

http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/where-we-work/ontario/news/natural-skyscraper.html
by wrecsvp
Sat May 30, 2015 11:09 pm
 
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