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Modeling a 117 foot, 234 point poplar in Chapel Hill, NC

[Ed and Bob, I’m not sure whether this post is more appropriate here or in the “Measurement and Dendromorphometry” section. Please feel free to clone or move the post as needed. ]

Dear NTS,

Carolina North Forest (CNF) is a 760 acre public use forest maintained by the University of North Carolina. The forest cradles a soon-to-be-defunct airstrip used over the years by the rich and famous of Chapel Hill as well as visiting dignitaries. CNF is crisscrossed by miles of dual use running/hiking and mountain bike trails. The forest is primarily composed of ~50 foot tall new growth loblolly pines, but there are a few pockets of mature deciduous stands as well, with multiple trees over 100 feet tall. The forest is loved by the locals and even has its own facebook page ( ).

CNF is on my commute to and from work and I have spent many hours riding the trails scouting for big or otherwise notable trees. The monarch of the forest is a tulip tree (Lirdiodendron tulipifera) with a CBH of 8’, 10” that towers over a section of the forest noted for its lack of undergrowth, but plentiful, straight-boled poplars, gnarly oaks, and sweet gum trees. Last Thursday I set aside most of the day to climb the monarch with the purpose of determining the height and total volume of the tree.

This is my first attempt at determining total tree volume and part of the purpose of posting my experience and my data set is to get your feedback about whether I am making correct assumptions and modeling the tree in an accepted way. I plan to model at least one other tulip tree in CNF – a wish bone poplar with a CBH of 11’, 11” (the trunk diverges at 5.5 feet high into 8’, 4” and 6’, 11” co-leaders), and one or more of the giant red oaks that watch over another part of the forest. I appreciate any comments, questions, or suggestions you can offer.

Giant Tulip Pasted.jpg
The monarch poplar is about a half mile from the trail head so I tried to pack lightly. Even so, I got some quizzical looks from trail runners as I toted my harness, ropes, slingshot and climbing helmet through the forest. The climb took place on the first day of winter, but the temperature was a balmy 65 degrees and I left my jacket at the base of the tree. I had previously measured the CBH to be 8’, 10” (or 106”) and the average spread of the compact canopy at 43’, 6” (45.5 feet major axis and 41.5 feet minor axis). Apparently, luck was on my side because I set an entry line over a good branch 65 feet high on the first try with my hand held slingshot.

The modified slingshot is made by attaching a $30 spincast fishing reel (spooled with 90 yards of 20 pound test line) to a $15 wrist rocket slingshot using a short piece of PVC and 2 hose clamps. A 2-ounce lead weight wrapped in bright orange duct tape serves as the projectile. I use the fishing line to haul a 2.2 mm throw line over the branch and then use that to place my 11.5mm arborist rope over the limb.

I climbed to my first tie in point using a split tail, doubled-blake’s hitch, self-advancing setup and a single foot lock. I stopped every ~15 feet to measure the circumference of the trunk on the way up to the first branch. At 50’ up, the trunk was still 6’, 10” in circumference. The first two branches are at 54 and 59 feet high and appear to have been broken off by storm damage. I measured the limb circumference of these and all 15 primary limbs that protrude from the trunk. Limb circumferences range from 18 inches to 38 inches. The main bole splits at 71 feet into a 4’, 11” circumference leader and a 3’, 11” lesser trunk. The leader was still 2’, 5” in circumference at 94’ when it finally split into a series of secondary branches that I wasn’t comfortable trusting my life to.

I brought along a new tree climbing tool that proved worthy of its weight many times over. It is a set of 11 aluminum tent poles shock corded together that telescopes out to a little more than 16 feet long. The whole set weighs about 10 ounces and fits in an old umbrella cover that hangs from my climbing saddle. I used the poles, which have bright orange tape at 1 foot increments, to determine the length of secondary branches too steep or too flimsy to access. The poles, which have a hook on one end, also come in very handy when advancing my climbing line when the dangling end of the rope is out of my reach. (Incidentally, I bought more than 11 poles from , but I found that combining any more than 11 sections results in a pole that curves too much to be useful.)

While tied into the crotch at 94’ feet high (confirmed with a final tape drop), I extended the 16-foot pole as high as my arm could reach, but the tip was still about 2 feet shy of the tallest twig. Adding a few measurements together I confidently report the height of the tree as 117’ (+/- 6”). There are most certainly many taller tulip trees in NC, but this one is certainly one of the tallest in CNF and a worthy specimen for the central Piedmont of NC. With a height of 117’, CBH of 106” and average crown spread of 43’ it has point value of 234.

I calculated trunk section volumes using the formula for volume of a frustrum (Vol=pi*h/3*(R^2 + Rr + r^2). I made 11 trunk circumference measurements between ground and 94’ high and I also treated the two lowest branches (the broken ones) as frustrums. There was also a primary limb at 61 feet that split into two limbs 5’ from the trunk and I treated the single section close to the trunk as a frustrum as well. All frustrum sections together represent a volume of 391 cubic feet.

I made some assumptions when calculating the volume of the primary branches. As noted above, there are 15 primary limbs that protrude from the trunk with circumferences ranging from 18 inches to 38 inches. I measured/estimated the length at which each primary limb tapered to less than 2 inches in diameter by cautious limb walking and using my extendable pole. Limb lengths ranged from 15’ to 35’. To calculate volume of the primary limbs I determined 3/4 of the starting radius and assumed that represents the width of the limb at 1/2 way out the branch. I used the equation for volume of a frustrum to estimate the area of the first half of the limb. I treated the remaining branch as a cone (vol=pi/3*r^2*h) with radius determined in the previous step and “height” equal to half the length of the limb. All the primary limbs calculated in this fashion represent a volume of 59.5 cubic feet (16.5% of the volume of the trunk sections). My calculations are shown in the attached spreadsheet with more details in case your interested and my explanation isn’t clear here.

I took notes on how many secondary limbs greater than 2” in diameter extended from each primary limb. In cases where a secondary branch was much bigger than 2” in diameter I counted it as 2 or 3 branches to simplify calculations. When I added all the secondary branches together the number came to 99. I assumed that each branch was on average 10 feet long, 2” in diameter, and behaved as a simple cone. Calculating the volume of the secondary branches in this way added 7.2 cubic feet to the total tree volume.

To summarize the volume measurements, the trunk sections, primary limbs, and secondary branches greater than 2” in diameter represent 391, 59.5 and 7.2 cubic feet for a total of 427.7 cubic feet. When compared to the monster tulips of Great Smokey Mt National Park like the Sag Branch Tulip (4013 cubic feet) or the Fork Ridge Tulip (, 2844 cubic feet) measured by Will Blozan et al, the “Monarch of Carolina North Forest” seems positively diminutive. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to help measure one of the real monarchs some day.

This tree houses many different lichens and mosses as well as a family of squirrels. While aloft, I saw a large hawk (red-tailed?) silently glide by and land in the tree next to me. A moment later another hawk landed gracefully in another nearby tree. Both either didn’t see me (not too likely) or didn’t care that I was there (the ultimate compliment). It was fascinating to watch as they ruffled and preened themselves, and then a moment later, both flew off for other parts of the forest. That experience typifies what I love about climbing into the canopy – experiencing the forest ecosystem from a different perspective where I can almost convince myself I belong.





The view from the top is spectacular, and in the upper levels of the canopy last year’s tulip shells and next year’s buds can be seen almost side-by-side. There are a few more pictures from the climb at

Thanks for reading and thanks for helping me hone my volume measurement protocol for future data generating climbs.
by pdbrandt
Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:55 pm
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Panther Creek, GA

The recently flown LiDAR data for north Georgia indicates the Panther Creek area has one of the greatest concentrations of tall trees in the state. That suggestion is not surprising given that a previous tree measuring trip to the area yielded not only several state height records but also the highest Rucker index in the state at that time. However, all of those previous finds were hardwoods growing in three small coves where the carbonate rich rocks of the Brevard Fault Zone approached the surface to produce circum-neutral soils and the appropriate habitat for several rare plant species. LiDAR indicates that tall trees are not restricted to that small area, but grow over a much broader area of narrow, low-elevation ravines and tributaries. That distribution pattern suggests many of the high hits are white pine rather than hardwoods, and aerial photographs confirm that interpretation. Other tall tree sites in the Brevard Fault Zone, such as Tamassee Knob, lack tall white pines, possibly as a consequence of the relatively gentle topography away from the carbonate rich rocks.

On this trip, our primary objects were to check 185.3’ and 190.2’ LiDAR hits and adjacent northeast facing slopes with hardwood canopies to around 160’. We followed the Panther Creek Falls Trail to the vicinity of the highest hit and found ourselves looking up a rhododendron filled ravine typical of the area. The highest points were actually up a tributary ravine, which turned out to better described as a crevice in the earth’s surface with a vertical cliff on one side and steeply sloping rock on the other. That topography, rather than the height of the trees, seems to have been the source of the high lidar hits. I roughed out the white pines on the steep slopes to the 130’s and a hemlock to the 120’s, though some trees may have been slightly taller. Similarly, the other conspicuously high hit turned out to be an emergent white pine with a swept over top growing directly above a rock outcrop on a very steep slope; that form and positioning meant the distance from the top of the tree to the ground beneath it was about 40’ greater than the vertical distance from the top to the base.


Despite those disappointments, a few tall white pines on nearby slopes still suggest that at least some of the other high LiDAR hits accurately reflect tree heights. Additionally, the data led to the exploration of additional productive hardwood areas. Those coves lack some of the rich site species found in the previously measured and better botanically known coves, such as black walnut, but tuliptrees reaching around 150’ tall typically dominate near the center of the ravines with a mixture of beech, basswood, sweetgum, hemlock and other species occurring on adjacent slopes. An unusually diverse collection of rich site species including paw paw, spicebush, buckeye, and redbud dominate the understory on relatively gentle slopes, but give way to rosebay rhododendron on steeper moist slopes and dwarf rhododendron in the drier ravines. Trees that approached or exceeded state height records established elsewhere at Panther Creek were found in both the overstory and understory, and a few state height records for other species were also encountered.



Overall, 8 state height records now reside at Panther Creek, and the site has Georgia’s highest Rucker index at 143.9’.

Jess Riddle
by Jess Riddle
Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:04 am
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3D surface modeling of a giant redwood trunk

I have attached my latest effort to model Drury Tree's bark surface in X,Y,Z cartesian coordinates. This shape table has 2595 points and represents a partial map of the first 30 feet of trunk. You can rotate the overhead 2D and sideview 3D graph of the trunk by using the spinner arrows on the side or finer tuned slider arrows on the top.

As you can see from the overhead view, Drury Tree is enormous ! Looks to be 18ft diameter at 20ft off the ground. This is largest of any known redwood. When I get to 100ft off the ground and about 10,000 data points I will solve for volume using the theory of "homothetic slices" and update the forum with a more complete rotating graph of the massive lower bole of Drury Tree.

I think this tree will easily reach 35,000 cubic feet in trunk volume.

Forest Mapper Drury Tree- Mac.xls

Michael Taylor
American Forests California Big Trees Coordinator

by M.W.Taylor
Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:40 pm
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Dear NTS,

Happy New Yr - I wish you all a tree-filled 2012; I know that will be fulfilled.

I also want to take you through my trip to Bhutan in October 2011. The discussion on the big Ostrya in the tropics triggered this series of postings. Wait until you see the Symplocus from southern Bhutan! I will start this series with the travel into Bhutan. It is a long, exciting trip. I started my journey from the city of Shenyang in northeast China. Despite starting on that side of the world, it still took a bit over 9 hours of flying from Shenyang to Paro, Bhutan: Shenyang --> Shanghai --> Bangkok, Thailand --> Paro. Of course, the most exciting portion was on the last leg into Bhutan. As Bhutan is still a hard to reach, but often dreamed of destination, my fellow passengers acted like I recall my first plane ride - total giddiness! Cliched, but the excitement was truly palpable.

The only way they allow planes to fly into Paro during daylight hours and visual meteorological conditions . Unfortunately for us, it was cloudy at our cruising height, so it was hard to get an overview of the Himalayas.


Peaks of the Himalayas emerging from the clouds.


As we started our descent, of course, we could see into the Kingdom of Bhutan.


Our final approach included a sharp bend into the narrow valley holding the landing strip (a strip that is from two directions depending on the direction of the wind), a short hop over one final ridge line into the valley, nearly clipping houses and Buddhist structures and then a final hard turn to the left just before touching down.

Want to get a sense of what it is like to land at Paro? Check out this clip:


Obviously we made it. But, this view shows how closed in the valley is.

The drive from Paro to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital, is a little over 50 km, but roughly an hour to drive. I do not generally get car sick, but Bhutan's roads are a real test:

We were delayed coming from Bangkok, so our trip to Thimphu was a race against the setting sun. I did get some glimpses of the two main pine in Bhutan, blue pine and chir pine. The pictures below are from other days and other parts of the trip. First, blue pine.


Like the Korean pine of northeast China, I was blown away by blue pine's resemblance to eastern white pine [or, likely more correct evolutionarily-speaking, vice-versa]. See how the fluffiness of the blue pine's crown resembles other white pines? For some reason, I didn't purposefully take more pictures of blue pine. I was obsesses with seeing the broadleaf species. I did get some other trees in the background of other pictures. The best one is below.


Most of the blue pine we saw were young and seeding in following fire. They apparently planted thousands of blue pine outside of microsite requirements along the road from Paro to Thimphu. During some severe autumn droughts over the last 10 years the blue pine have been dying back. A Bhutanese scientist has connected severe autumn drought to the dieback of blue pine.

What captured most of my attention on the drive in, however, were the chir pine.


Chir pine bark


Chir pine twig


The stout branches of chir pine


needle arrangement of Chir pine


If there were not steep ridgelines in the background, I would have thought I was in the southeastern US [ignoring the cool, dryish October air].

Next stop: Dochula.

by Neil
Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:55 am
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Texas Bur Oaks

Texas Bur Oaks

I've always been fascinated by Quercus macrocapra:

I'm from an area around the extreme northern limit of the species in New Brunswick - the lower St. John river valley, on the shores of the largest lake in the province. There's some space between the small area where it's present in New Brunswick and the closest region in Maine. I believe the relatively warm microclimate of the lower river valley presents the conditions it needs. I love finding them in unexpected places in the northern parts of the Grand Lake watershed.

It would be cool to see some as far south as Texas!


I was in Texas in November of 2010 collecting acorns from bur oaks with my wife. Here are some pictures for you.

The first five pictures are all from a campground at the southeastern end of Benbrook Lake which lies just to the southwest of Fort Worth.
Some leaves and acorns.
TX Bur1.jpg

An average sized tree in the campground.
TX Bur2.jpg

More leaves of a different tree. Quite attractive foliage.
TX Bur3.jpg

Yet more leaves of another tree. I just love how different the leaves of each individual look!
TX Bur4.jpg

This was probably the nicest tree at this campground. The bur oak is the largest, leaning tree on the left of the picture.
TX Bur5.jpg

The current Texas champion bur oak based on AF points is located in a park just to the northeast of Benbrook Lake. It was measured in 2006 at 218" in girth x 81' in height x 105' in average crown spread for 325 points. I think we found this tree and my quick measurements were 18.70' (224.4") in girth x 73.5' in height (shooting straight up) x 87' in crown spread for 320 points. The height is probably a bit taller and I think I only made a single measurement of crown spread so this measurement is very inadequate...however I do not buy the 105' average crown spread.

The following four pictures are of this very nice bur oak. The first is a close-up with my wife, Ellen.
TX Bur6.jpg
TX Bur7.jpg
TX Bur8.jpg
TX Bur9.jpg

The last picture that I have is from Mother Neff State Park that is southwest of Waco and northeast of Fort Hood. There are two nice-sized bur oaks in this picture.
TX Bur10.jpg

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

by DougBidlack
Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:19 am
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Georgia Max Height List January 2012

FYI- I've updated the Georgia Max Height List and have attached it here. There are now 29 species over the 130' threshold.
ENTS submission_Jan_2012.pdf


by eliahd24
Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:32 pm
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Middle Fork of Salmon River, ID

NTS: Friend Tom Connelly scored a boating permit in the 4-rivers lottery for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Central Idaho. Other then Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this is the hardest permit to get. There was less than a 4% success rate for the 10,000 applicants in 2011.
So Susan and I headed to Idaho with seven other boaters for a put-in during the last week of July 2011. Our starting point will be in the Salmon-Challis National Forest at Boundary Creek with an elevation of 5800 feet. We will take-out at Cache Bar on the Main Salmon River 100 miles downstream and at an elevation of 3000. All but a one mile section at the putin is a federally designated Wild River flowing through the Franck Church River of No Return Wilderness.
En-route we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument and took in the stark beauty of this surreal landscape. After leaving Craters of the Moon
Photo by Susan Sharp
we made camp at the Sheep Trail Campground in the Sawtooth National forest about 20 miles east of Stanley, ID at 6500 feet elevation. Two Lodgepole Pines (P. contorta var latifolia) were measured before dark: Girth 3.2’ x 65.9'; and 3.6’ x 65.1’.
Stanley lived up to its icebox reputation as we awoke next morning to a frost and frozen water bottles.
After crossing the divide between main stem of the Salmon River and its Middle Fork we camped at the Boundary Creek Campground where we would rig our boats and get checked in by the ranger, We had two kayaks, two inflatable kayaks(IKS). two rafts, and two catarafts. The campground was on river left at 5,800’ elevation. A short distance upstream was Dagger Falls where we watched some salmonid species trying to attain its birthplace.
Photo by Tom Connelly
Measured two Rocky Mountain Douglas-firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii var glauca near the falls.
7.5’ x 93.0’, 8.4’ x 119.5'
Day 1: Stayed at Sheepeater Camp at mile 13.3 on river left. Elevation 5,200. This site also featured a much appreciated hot spring.
Measured a Lodgepole Pine at 5.6’ x 79.2’, two Ponderosa Pines (P. Ponderosa var scopulorum) at: 7.5' x 107.5', 8.4' x 119.5', and a Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera spp trichocarpa) at a 6.3' x 65.8'
Day 2: Our next Camp was to be at Marble Creek - right at mile 32.7. Elevation 4,500. Up to now we had already run the steepest part of the trip with most of the harder rapids but there is a a rapid that must be negotiated immediately upstream of our camp spot.
Marble Creek Rapid,aka Chipmunk) Class 3-
Photo by Susan Sharp
This benign looking rapid was anything but and the results were not pretty. We tallied four swimmers, both IKS and one captain each from a Cat and Raft. John Fichctner, as a passenger on a captainless raft, somehow stayed aboard. As we crawled ashore our humiliation was complete as we saw a group of mostly teenagers on a guided trip wave to us as they cleanly ran the correct line.
Measured 3 Ponderosa Pines at: 7.4' x 89.6', 6.5' x 95.0', 10.4' x 84.1' and a Doug-fir at: 5.4' x 104.3'
Many of the camp sites we used had evidence of the original inhabitants occupation. On the benches above the river it was not unusual to see multiple depressions in the ground which are commonly called pit houses. One is pictured below.
Photo by John Fichtner
Day 3: Next overnight stop was Cow Camp at mile 50.7 on river right. 4,000 elevation. Measured three nice Ponderosa pines at: 10.8'X 106.7', 12.1' x 121.1', 12.9' x 88.0' (top out)
Susan Sharp, 12.1' x 121.1'
Photo by Turner Sharp
Day 4 & 5 . The camp was at the confluence of Camas Creek at mile 60.3 on river right. Eleavation 3,800’.We have a layover day at this very nice camp with good shade , nice smelling Ponderosa Pines and good hiking . I hiked up Camas Creek about 2 miles checking out the vegetation along the creek.I measured two Water Birches (B.occidentalis) at: 2.1’ x 28.4', 1.6’ x 33.1': Black Hawthorne (Crateagus douglasii) at 1.7' x 32.3'. Other species noted along the creek were: Saskatoon Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Rocky Mountain Maple (Acer glabrum), Blue Elderberry( Sambucus nigra spp cerulea). Also measured along the creek was Ponderosa Pine at 10.6' x 127.7', Doug-fir at 14.1' x 139.7'. It was while measuring this last tree that a bear came skedadling down the mountain after some hikers from our group above me spooked it. They never saw it and the bear never saw me even though it came within 75'
Pictured below is the large Pondersosa Pine that provided our campsite with much appreciated shade on our layover day.
12.4' x 109.0', Susan Sharp
Photo by Turner Sharp
The two shrubs on either side of the tree are Water Birch Clumps were typical of others observed . These are not the two I measured.
This trip was unique in that we had quite a collection of very competent boat women. Here the are posing near the mouth of Camas Creek.
Pictured are Bridget Tincher, Kathleen Simpson, Marilyn Polan, Susan Sharp
Photo by Turner Sharp
The following picture gives an idea of scale. Pointing almost due west to the confluence of the Middle Fork and Camas Creek at an elevation of 3800 feet the elevation to the first knob is 6,700 feet and the far ridge in the far background is 8600 feet. Our wonderful Ponderosa Pine at the campsite is barely visible right of center in the photo.
Photo by Susan Sharp
I am sure that Camas Creek got its name from the plant (Camassia quamash) whose bulb was edible and was/is an important part of Native American culture.
Day 6: Next overnite stop was Survey Camp on river left at mile 74.4 on river left. Elevation of 3500
Measured 3 Ponderosa Pines at : 9.8' x 100.8', 9.8' x 90.6', 8.7' x 85.1'. These three trees were ax scared from knee to head high - to collect pitch?
Other trees measured were a Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) at : 1.6' x 23.7’ and some Curlleaf Mountain-mahoghany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) at: 1.4' x 18.6', 1.8' x 24.1', 1.8' x 13.9'
Day 7: Our last overnite stop on the river was at Solitude Camp on river left at mile 92.8. Elevation of 3200. Very small camp with no hiking opportunities and only one accessible tree to measure. Doug-fir 11.7' x 103.8' This end of the Canyon is called the Impassable Canyon for a reason. We were only about 6 miles to our takeout at Cache Bar. However once we hit the main Salmon there is one more rapid of concern – Cramer Creek Rapid which was formed after heavy thunderstorms blew out the creek in 2003 Several of our party did not have pristine lines and Bridget had her first ever flip and Mike in his Cat was violently cartwheeled through the rapid and ejected but his passenger, John Fichtner, earned the name of Velcro britches because once again he was still in his seat after the boat landed upright. After righting the raft we derigged at Cache Bar, made a stop at the groover cleaner, and made it to the Scout Mountain Campground in the Caribou National Forest just outside Pocatello where I managed to measure one Doug- fir before dark at
6.2' x 95.3'
Turner Sharp
by tsharp
Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:25 pm
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Science on the SPOT: Measuring Redwood Giants - KQED QUEST

Science on the SPOT: Measuring Redwood Giants - KQED QUEST

Uploaded by KQEDondemand on Dec 20, 2010

Forest ecologist Steve Sillett is leading a team of scientists as they climb and measure every branch of some of the last and tallest old growth redwoods in California. Their goal is to learn how these ancient giants have historically responded to climatic shifts and to monitor how they are being impacted today by global warming.

by edfrank
Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:57 am
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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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Outdoor Activity Center forest, Atlanta

I was able to go for a quick hike at a spot in SW Atlanta I've been trying to get to for years called the Outdoor Activity Center. It's a facility operated by the City of Atlanta Parks Dept. that was built in the 1970's and after much initial use, sat vacant from sometime in the 1990's through about 2006. It has a nature center and also has 26 acre mature hardwood forest with a seasonal stream and fairly extreme topographic features. I heard rumors of a "HUGE Beech tree" called the "Grandfather Beech" and thus that was one of my main goals- finding and measuring said tree.

The forest was typical of many around this part of the Piedmont- lots of beech, white oak, tuliptree, northern red oak, chalkbark maple and a few scattered sourwoods and loblolly pines all on the steep slope. In the low wet spots were some really nice Sweetgum and what's become one of my favorite trees- Winged Elm ( Ulmus alata ).

I took measurements of quite a few Oaks, but none were all that impressive (a lot of competition in these parts). What really stole the show were 2 Winged Elm's that both topped 120'! I've only measured one taller anywhere else- that's a 126 footer in Fernbank Forest (and I believe stands as the 1st or 2nd tallest living individual of the species known). Also finding a Black Cherry over 100' tall is pretty rare around here--- finding one at all in a forest is pretty rare.

Turns out the Grandfather Beech was smaller than advertised and the height was not even worth measuring (in terms of standing up to other tall Beeches in the area), but still an important tree as it is located at one of the forest teaching stations. Overall I didn't find anything to eye-popping aside from the Winged Elms, but it was a great day to be in the woods. The daytime high was upper 30's and there were even snow flurries earlier in the day. It was nice to walk in the crisp air after 2 weeks of warm mugginess down here in the southland.


Carpinus caroliniana CBH: 2'10"
Fagus grandifolia "Grandfather Beech" CBH: 10'2.5"
Liquidambar styraciflua 129.9'
Liquidambar styraciflua 130.7'
Liquidambar styraciflua 9'4" x 134.5'
Liriodendron tulipifera 122.9' (def. taller ones around)
Pinus taeda 8'4" x 133.5'
Prunus serotina 4'1.5" x 102.5
Quercus alba 132.2'
Quercus alba 13'4" x 121.1' (BIG forest grown White Oak!)
Quercus rubra 120.9'
Ulmus alata 5'10.5" x 123.3'
Ulmus alata 8'7.5" x 124.6'


I also did a rough ring count on a trail cut Green Ash and got 68 annual rings on a trunk circumference of only 24". Pretty tight growth in the last 30 years or so.
by eliahd24
Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:21 pm
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Belle Isle, Michigan


last weekend I visited Belle Isle to measure the Michigan AF champion pumpkin ash and Shumard oak. Belle Isle is a 985 acre island in the Detroit River that is within the Maumee Lakeplain. It is a flat landscape with silty clay soils that is wet in late winter/early spring and dries out in summer. The remaining forest on the island is classified as a wet-mesic flatwoods and it is unusual due to the number of rare tree/large shrub species that are common on the island but are rare in Michigan.

Pumpkin ash was first found in Michigan in 1992 by researchers from Ohio trying to determine the true range of the species within that state. The range map below consists of data from "Michigan Flora Online" by Reznicek, Voss and Walters as well as from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. The red counties were the known distribution in Michigan in 1996 when the third part of "Michigan Flora" was published as a book by Voss. The numbers within counties refers to the number of times the species occurs within that county according to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
Pumpkin Ash.001.jpg

Shumard oak was not even positively identified in Michigan until after 1985 when the second part of "Michigan Flora" was published.
Shumard Oak.001.jpg

Wahoo ( Euonymus atropurpurea ) is a rare shrub for Michigan that can reach tree size (15' or more).

Shellbark hickory is rare for Michigan but apparently not rare enough for the Michigan Natural Features Inventory to track. Red indicates 1985 or earlier and corresponds to when the second part of "Michigan Flora" was published.
Shellbark Hickory.001.jpg

Rough-leaved dogwood, also known as Drummond's dogwood, is rare in Michigan but also apparently not rare enough to be tracked by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. This species is still only known from the four southeastern-most counties in the state.
Rough-leaved Dogwood.001.jpg

So these are the five rare trees that I'm aware of on the island. The forest is dominated by oaks. The common red oaks are Shumard oak, pin oak and northern red oak and the common white oaks are bur oak and swamp white oak. Chinkapin oak is also supposed to be on the island but I didn't notice it. Other common tree species include pumpkin ash, green ash, silver maple (?) and American elm. I put a question mark after the silver maple because I wonder if they aren't mostly Freeman maples. More on that later. The most common small tree is downy hawthorn although hornbeam and hophornbeam are also reasonably common. The most common shrub appears to be spicebush and actually the Michigan AF champion spicebush is also supposed to be on the island but I didn't have good location data or enough time to try and find it. Unfortunately, virtually all of the ashes are dead due to EAB and I very much feared that the champ would be dead as well.

The pumpkin ash was the first champ that I found. Luckily it still seems to be alive. On closer inspection, however, I think that luck may have nothing to do with it. I found a little hole near the base of the tree with a yellow, plastic insert. It looks kinda like a place that you'd hook up an IV to an ailing human, so I'm guessing that this tree is being treated to keep it alive. The tree was last measured in 2001 by Woody Ehrle and the dimensions were 85" (7.08') in girth, 135' in height and 50' in average crown spread for 232.5pts. I got 7.34' (88.1") in girth, 84.3' in height and 32.6' in average crown spread for 180.5pts. Just slightly shorter! I think I might have missed the highest sprig because when I shot straight up I got 87' and I didn't finish my calculations 'til later because I thought I got the highest point. I'll have to return again. It does look like this tree has lost a fair amount of limbs recently but this obviously does not explain the height and average crown spread disparity. The max spread that I found was 36' 7".

Here is a picture of of the champion pumpkin ash.
Belle Isle 1.jpg

A close-up of the bark.
Belle Isle 3.jpg

Looking up.
Belle Isle 4.jpg

The second tree that I wanted to measure was the Shumard oak. Back in 2001 this tree was measured at 150" (12.5') in girth, 128' in height and 70' in average crown spread for 295.5pts. I got 14.46' (173.5") in girth, 102.7' in height and 75.4' in average crown spread for 295.1pts. Again a big height differential but this tree has been growing extremely well...nearly 2' of girth growth in 10 1/2 years. Not too shabby! Also, and this is a first for me, I actually measured a greater average crown spread than the original! The max crown spread that I found was 83'. I feel fairly confident about the height since I got 102' by shooting straight up.

Here is a picture of the champion Shumard oak.
Belle Isle 5.jpg

A close-up of the bark.
Belle Isle 6.jpg

Looking up.
Belle Isle 7.jpg

Another view looking up.
Belle Isle 8.jpg

Leaves from around the champion Shumard oak.
Belle Isle 9.jpg

I measured the girth of one other Shumard oak to 13.36'. I think there are a number of decent-sized oaks that are just waiting to be measured.

As I mentioned earlier I'm not sure if the maples in the park are actually silver maples. I didn't notice any with multiple stems and the leaves looked a bit different. I'm hoping that other NTS can help out here.

Here is a picture of some leaves that I gathered on the forest floor.
Belle Isle 10.jpg

A picture of the bark of a fat maple. I measured the girth to 14.17'.
Belle Isle 11.jpg

Same tree looking up.
Belle Isle 12.jpg

Do these look like silver maple or Freeman maple?

by DougBidlack
Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:52 pm
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Bear Creek Trail, Gannett Poplar and a nice hemlock! (GA)

Today I was able to take a trip to the Bear Creek trail near Ellijay, GA in the Chattahoochee National Forest. This was a rare kind of tree hunting trip where my wife and our dog joined us, so I was pretty stoked. Main primary goal was to locate and (re)measure the state co-champion tuliptree known as the "Gennett Poplar". It's a well visited tree on a popular hiking and mountain biking trail. For those interested in visiting the tree, a simple Google search will lead to good info and accurate directions. It's only about 12 miles outside of Ellijay.

Being such a quick trip I only had a chance to measure a few trees. The creek was running a little high, so we had a few "wet feet" crossings, much to my wife's dismay and my dog's delight :)

The first tree that caught my eye was a one-off American Holly:
Bear Creek Holly.jpg

Soon afterwards we began seeing more and more downed trees. Some almost looking like avalanche debris you see out west. Then I realized that it was probably tornado damage from one of the many vicious storms we've had in the past 2 years:
Bear Creek tornado damage.jpg

The damage began to let up just when the trees started getting bigger. A pair of large looking hemlocks along the banks of Bear Creek caught my eye:
Bear Creek Hemlocks along creek.jpg

Just before the famous poplar was the real highlight of the hike- a gi-normous hemlock! This beast measured in at 12' CBH x 161.2' 140.2' Tall!! I didn't get a full shot of the tree, but here's one with my dog for scale:
Bear Creek Hemlock.jpg
After some quick searching of the ENTS site, it seems that the stats on this tree are particularly impressive for Georgia. I know Jess and Will likely have data not posted on the site yet, but can anyone expand on the impressiveness (or non-impressiveness) of this tree? I could only find one hemlock over 160' documented for Georgia.

And now on to the Gennett Poplar...
Gannett Poplar6.jpg

Overall this was a great trip, but just made me want to go back and spend more time. There seemed to be some much taller Tuliptrees in the deep creek bed ravine near the campground along FS Road 241.... also we only did 1 mile (out and back ) of a 6 mile loop. Always a reason to return.
by eliahd24
Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:38 pm
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Sand Branch, GA

I recently explored some privately owned coves in an area I’ll call Sand Branch. Sand Branch is not a place you inadvertently stumble upon. Several miles of dirt road separate the small watershed, only about a mile long, from the nearest highway, but the stream does not lie near any wilderness area either. Judging from a topo map, the surrounding mountains do not stand out as remarkable for north Georgia. From a base at Lake Rabun, elevation 1690’, the highest peaks in the area rise to only around 3000’.

The fog on the day I visited added to the feeling of a secluded and forgotten area. Water dripped from the dark green leaves of the rhododendrons that line much of the quiet road that bisects the watershed. On the slopes above and away from the road, the understory remains dark and evergreen, but the species composition changes to mountain laurel and dwarf rhododendron. In a few north facing coves and adjacent northeast facing slopes, the locations that likely retain the most nutrients and moisture, the color switches to the tan of dead leaves, and the understory transitions to a deciduous mix of buckeye and silverbell. On the most sheltered of these sites, only two coves, tuliptree excludes all other species from the overstory, but on slightly less productive sites that species is a minor component of forests dominated by white, northern red, and black oaks, pignut and mockernut hickory, many of them well formed and 120’ tall. Moving downstream black birch, eastern hemlock, and eventually white pine enter the canopy, and moving towards drier positions upslope chestnut oak dominates the overstory with a few pitch pines mixed in on the larger ridges.


I think I made an error when recording my angles and distances for the mockernut history, but the listed height is consistent with what I obtained by shooting vertically from beneath the tree. A taller pignut hickory is known from the Smokies, but the identification on that tree needs to be double checked. I didn’t recognize the largest pignut hickory at first, because the bark was much lighter than I am accustomed to; in general, the tree closely resembles a bitternut, but lacks the yellow buds. Other pignuts in the area had darker bark and fruits with a pronounced neck. Since I could not find any fruits from the largest hickory, there is still some possibility that this tree is actually a sand hickory.


At 140.8’, the site has the second highest Rucker index in Georgia, just surpassing Cliff Creek, even though black birch is the tenth species. More searching of the lower reaches would likely substantially improve the index. Basswood, present in the Rucker index for most montane hardwood sites and almost always present, appears to be completely absent from this watershed. Overall, this site struck me as one of the finest oak-hickory forests in north Georgia, and probably has more tall mockernut hickories than another other site I have visited.

by Jess Riddle
Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:18 am
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Tyler State Park, Pa.


Tyler State Park is located in Bucks County just outside of Newtown. The park consists of more than 1,700 acres of woodland and actively farmed land. The woodlands are a diverse mix of floodplain and upland species in several stages of succession.

The park was surveyed in 2003 as having two possible old growth sites. A white oak blowdown within the larger site was removed to clear a trail. A fresh clean cut was made 6' above ground at which the girth measured 7.8' and revealed ~200 consistently tight growth rings. There are larger trees and I would estimate their ages to be between 200-250 years, some possibly older. Species in this age class includes green ash, pignut hickory, tulip poplar, and white oak. The smaller site consists mostly of tulip poplar and black and northern red oak. American beech is also common at both sites.

P1030744 Stitch.jpg

P1030794 Stitch.jpg

Coniferous species include eastern red cedar, eastern hemlock, norway spruce, and white pine. Hemlocks are confined to the steep slopes and ridges of the Neshaminy Creek and are most abundant in the northern half of the park. These hemlocks max out with girths around 6' and 90' in height. A lone hemlock located in a parking area measured 10'2" x 104.3'. This tree has some age on it and may have beed spared during the last harvest. White pine and norway spruce are in several plantations throughout the park. A small naturally occuring stand of white pine grow along a steep slope on the east bank of the Neshaminy Creek which is owned by the Bucks County Community College. The park borders the college on three sides and I did not measure any trees here do to lack of time. This is only the second site where I have seen native white pine in SE Pa. The other site is located along the Schuylkill River in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County. Both of these sites are nearly identical in geography.

Tyler State Park Site Index 11/22/2011
Species CBH Height Comment
A Basswood 9'2" 102.1' Beautiful single stem
A Beech 8' 115.7'
A Elm 9'6" 99.6'
Bitternut Hickory 9'10" 118.5'
Black Birch 8'8" 98.9'
Black Birch 7'1" 107'
Black Cherry 5'3" 125' With 140' tulips
Blackgum 5'3" 108.7'
Black Oak 11'10" 115.1'
Black Oak 10'4" 115.9'
Black Oak 11'2" 123.6'
Black Walnut 5'11" 118.9'
Black Walnut 5'2" 123'
Flowering Dogwood 1'3" 32.6'
Green Ash 10'3" 123.9'
Green Ash 9'10" 132.7'
Green Ash 10' 133'
Green Ash 7'11' 133.6'
Mockernut Hickory 5'2" 127.2'
N Red Oak 15'4" 102.3' Severe storm damage
N Red Oak ~9.5' 124.3' Crown of fallen AB @ base
Pignut Hickory 8'6" 124.2'
Pignut Hickory 6'7" 126.5"
Pignut Hickory 7'9" 130.2"
Pin Oak 8'1" 114.8'
Pin Oak 9'4" 117.4'
Red Maple 4'8" 107.7'
River Birch 4'3" 66.9'
River Birch 7'5' 72.7'
Sassafras 3'2" 92.9'
Shagbark Hickory 6'8" 118.9'
Slippery Elm 4'1" 102'
Sycamore 9'10" 123.9'
Sycamore 5'4" 127' Within white pine plantation
Tulip Poplar 11'7" 144.7'
White Ash 5'9" 123.8'
White Oak 11'9" 113'
White Oak 8'2" 119.4'
White Pine 6'6" 127.4' Plantation tree

12' x 100' List
Species CBH Height
N Red Oak 15'4" 102.3'
Tulip Poplar 12' 128.2'
Tulip Poplar 15'11" 129.4'
Tulip Poplar 13'11" 131.9'
Tulip Poplar 12'4" 132.2'
Tulip Poplar 13'4" 132.2'
Tulip Poplar 12'8" 141.9'

Tyler State Park Rucker Index 11/22/2011
Species CBH Height Coordinates
Tulip Poplar 11'7" 144.7' N40 13.629 x W74 58.813
Green Ash 7'11" 133.6' N40 13.825 x W74 57.666
Pignut Hickory 7'9" 130.2' N40 13.596 x W74 57.673
White Pine 6'6" 127.4' N40 13.597 x W74 58.742
Mockernut Hickory 5'2" 127.2' N40 13.216 x W74 58.524
Sycamore 5'4" 127' N40 13.616 x W74 58.738
Black Cherry 5'3" 125' N40 13.222 x W74 58.472
N Red Oak ~9.5' 124.3' N40 13.607 x W74 58.859
White Ash 5'9" 123.8' N40 13.427 x W74 58.554
Black Oak 11'2" 123.6' N40 13.624 x W74 58.816

RI 128.68'

by George Fieo
Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:29 pm
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Picayune Oak, MS

NTS, Saturday I went to Picayune a small city located in southwestern Perry Co., Ms., about 30 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. I found the largest Live Oak in the city and added it to the Live Oak listing now at 196 trees. The Picayune Oak grows at 306 S. Magnolia St. The tree is around 150 years old and measured CBH-20’ 5”, Height-57’, Spread-134’ x 125’. A smaller Live Oak but still a beautiful tree. Two Live Oaks were growing at this location this was the larger of the two. Most likey the site of an old homestead in the 1850's- 60's. Larry

Picyune Oak 1.jpg

Picyune Oak 2.jpg
by Larry Tucei
Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:12 pm
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Sine method paper just released as a USFS research note

Sine method paper just released as a USFS research note


Please follow this link to find our paper, just published, on the sine method:

As a US Forest Service publication, it is part of the public domain, and hence can be posted or distributed as needed. I'm pretty happy with how this little paper turned out, although I still think it would have been best served as part of the original manuscript in a scientific journal somewhere. Anyhow, this really is only about half the original paper--the other half of the material I intend to transform into a different submission, probably to the Journal of Forestry, emphasizing the implications of the accuracy/reliability of the different techniques. I'm not sure when I'll be able to have a draft version of this new paper ready to route to y'all--perhaps by later this spring, if Bob doesn't keep me too busy…

Don C. Bragg, Ph.D.
Research Forester
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station


by DonCBragg
Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:17 pm
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Smedley Park, Delaware Co., PA


Smedley Park is located in Delaware County between Media and Springfield and contains roughly 120 acres. Most of the park is wooded with the exception of a picnic area and a ballfield or two. The park is surrounded by urban development and I-476 (The Blue Route) and a transit rail line pass through the park.

The northern half is more aesthetic and has seen the least amount of disturbance. Crum Creek serpentines through much of the park and is flanked by steep slopes and large outcroppings. Oaks, hickories, and american beech dominate the upper slopes and ridges while mountain laurel is commonly found in the understory. Eastern hemlock is most abundant on the north facing slopes and support some of the best examples of hemlock I've seen in SE Pa. Five specimens recorded heights over 120' with the tallest measuring 8'11" x 128.5'. The lower slopes and creek bottoms are where the largest and tallest tulip poplars can be found. Some of these beauties are branchless for the first eighty feet. Five tulips had heights over 150'. The tallest measured 12'3" x 160.3' and the largest was 16' x 139.7'. Green ash is commonly found in the bottoms and competes well with the tall tulips. Four green ash recorded heights of 130' or more with the tallest measuring 10'1" x 140.3'.

P1030714 Stitch.jpg
P1030690 Stitch.jpg
P1030707 Stitch.jpg

The terrain in the southern half of the park is more forgiving. Tulip and ash dominate the canopy and the upper slopes. The oaks and hickories are still common on the ridge tops but their numbers soon dwindle the farther south you go. Blackgum is fairly common and typically found with the oaks and hickories. I documented two very impressive blackgums where the oaks and tulips clash. They stand like columns whose crowns grace each other in the slightest breeze. They measure 8'8" x 116.6' and 8'11" x 117.1'. Both trees are less than two feet from the current Pa. height record.

P1030726 Stitch.jpg

The southwest section is mostly a near pure stand of 140' tulip poplar with a thick understory of spicebush. The rail line borders the park here and a small stream overrun with japanese knotweed and other invasives parallels the tracks. The section between the two is more of an upland mix and contains some large tulip, hickory, and oak trees. These trees were not logged during the last harvest either because of their close proximity to the tracks or they are in the rail line right of way. The largest is a northern red oak that rivals the largest tulip. The oak separates into two leaders around 30' and measures 16'9" x 133.9'. Approximately 200 yards west of the oak is an american chestnut. It's dimensions are 3' x 100.9'. Unfortunately, the tree appears to have the blight. Although I coundn't see any cankers, the upper 1/3 of the tree seems to be dead and suckers are sprouting from it's base.

P1030728 Stitch.jpg

Smedley Park Site Index 11/21/2011
Species CBH Height Comment
A Beech 10'2" 102.4'
A Beech 6'8" 123.8'
A Beech 8'3" 130.1'
American Chestnut 3' 100.9' New PA Height
Bitternut Hickory 7'6" 133.3'
Blackgum 8'8" 116.6'
Blackgum 8'11" 117.1'
Black Oak ~14' 116.6' Ivy on trunk
Black Walnut 6'9" 109.3'
E Hemlock 8'2" 120.7'
E Hemlock 8'4" 121'
E Hemlock 9' 121.4'
E Hemlock 8'3" 124.7'
E Hemlock 8'11" 128.5'
E Hophornbeam 1'7" 40'
Green Ash 8'3" 130.1'
Green Ash 7' 133'
Green Ash 8'3" 138.9'
Green Ash 10'1" 140.3'
Mockernut Hickory 7'9" 117.3'
N Red Oak 12'8" 120.7'
N Red Oak 9'2" 126.5'
N Red Oak 10'2" 129.2'
N Red Oak 16'9" 133.9'
Pignut Hickory 6'5" 115.9'
Red Hickory? 7'2" 107.6'
Red Maple 5'11" 106.4'
Sassafras 4'3" 75.2'
Slippery Elm 5'1" 98.4'
Sugar Maple 5'10" 98.6'
Sycamore 8'2" 127.6'
Sycamore 6'4" 139'
Tulip Poplar 13'1" 151.5'
Tulip poplar 12'11" 151.6'
Tulip Poplar 10'8" 152.1'
Tulip Poplar 9'8" 154'
Tulip Poplar 12'3" 160.3'
Umbrella Magnolia 1'1" 34.7'
White Ash 6'9" 116.3'
White Ash 4'9" 119.8'
White Ash 5'7" 131.2' with 140' tulips
White Oak 11'11" 123.2'
White Oak 9' 123.8'
White Pine 7'2" 120.3' Plantation tree
White Pine 8'4" 121.6' Plantation tree
White Pine 6'10" 131.9' Plantation tree

Smedley Park 12' x 100' List
Species CBH Height
Black Oak ~14' 116.6' ivy on trunk
N Red Oak 12'8" 120.7'
N Red Oak 16'9" 133.9'
Tulip Poplar 18'5" 135.5' flared trunk
Tulip Poplar 12'1" 138'
Tulip Poplar 12'4" 139.1'
Tulip Poplar 14' 139.4'
Tulip Poplar 16' 139.7'
Tulip Poplar 12'1" 142.9'
Tulip Poplar 13'8" 143.2'
Tulip Poplar 12'7" 145.2'
Tulip Poplar 12'3" 146.6'
Tulip Poplar 12'2" 147'
Tulip Poplar 12'8" 147.5'
Tulip poplar 12'5" 148.8'
Tulip Poplar 12'7" 149.1'
Tulip Poplar 13'7" 149.6'

Smedley Park 12' x 150' List
Species CBH Height
Tulip Poplar 13'1" 151.5'
Tulip Poplar 12'11" 151.6"
Tulip Poplar 12'3" 160.3"

Smedley Park Rucker 10 Index
Species CBH Height Coordinates
Tulip Poplar 12'3" 160.3' N39 55.582 x W75 21.673
Green Ash 10'1" 140.3' N39 55.155 x W75 21.854
Sycamore 6'4" 139' N39 55.768 x W75 21.378
N Red Oak 16'9" 133.9' N39 54.915 x W75 21.911
Bitternut Hickory 7'6" 133.3' N39 55.108 x W75 21.658
White Pine 6'10" 131.9' N39 54.830 x W75 21.621
White Ash 5'7" 131.2' N39 54.858 x W75 22.003
A Beech 8'3" 130.1' N39 55.430 x W75 21.603
E Hemlock 8'11" 128.5' N39 55.328 x W75 21.618
White Oak 9' 123.8' N39 54.939 x W7 521.818

RI 135.23'

I hardley noticed all of the hussel and bussel that surrounds Smedley Park. It's an oasis not only for wildlife but for the nature loving suburbanite as well.

by George Fieo
Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:05 pm
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Herbert Taylor/Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve, Atlanta, GA

This weekend I was able to do a thorough searching of a great urban green space in Atlanta known as Herbert Taylor and/or Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve in the Morningside Neighborhood on the Northeast side of Atlanta, GA. It's mostly floodplain along Rock Creek, which is a small urban stream flowing due North where it meets Peachtree Creek at the northern edge of the park. In addition to the great floodplain, it's got a very nice east facing slope of deciduous hardwoods typical of many mature Piedmont Forests. This site lies very near where Sherman's troops were said to have had an encampment and also there is reportedly a historic Creek Indian village at the confluence of Rock Creek and Peachtree Creek. The surrounding neighborhood was first laid out in the early 1920's but the park land was maintained by 1 or 2 families and donated to the city in the last few decades. Some farming and grazing is said to having taken place, but I suspect many of the trees and micro-ecosystems date back to the Civil War or possibly earlier.
HTDJ map.pdf
Taylor Johnson screen shot.jpg

My main goal was to confirm ID on a tricky oak species that had fooled me in the past. I posted it in the BBS under "Black Oak?" earlier this week. Though I was leaning towards Q. velutina initially, now I really feel like these trees are Q. shumardii (Shumard Oak) after examining the bark and collecting more leaves:

I also wanted to get a more complete Rucker 10 index and take a really good inventory while the weather was good and I had enough time to devote. I'll cut to the chase and list the tall trees first, then get to the pictures. Note- I'm using the first 2 letters' of the Genus and first 2 of the species to code the trees:

LiTu 13' x 147.5'
*QuSh 7'3.5" x 141.0'
*LiSt 8'8" x 140.3'
PiTa 9' x 135.6'
QuRu 9'6.5" x 128.3'
TiHe 6'5.5" x 126.7' (biggest of 3 trunks)
QuAl 10'3.25" x 126.1'
*PoDe 11'4" x 125.3'
QuVe 9'10" x 125.2'
FaGr 10'6.5" x 124.5'
*CaIl 121.5'
PlOc 118.1
QuNi 7'1.5" x 116.4
*FrPe 5'4" x 113.3
*AcSa 12'4" x 111.0
QuFa 7'11.5" x 111.1'
*PrSe 7'5" x 110.5'
**DiVi 3'7" x 102'
RUCKER 10 index: 132.1'

* tallest in metro-Atlanta
** tallest in Georgia
...also Campsis radicans up to 23" CBH!

I call this place the "Little Congaree of Atlanta"... that may be a stretch, but with soaring Sweetgum and Loblollies, along with the biggest native vine species in the city, you can see some similarities. Keep in mind the orange tape measure is 5" wide (for scale):
BIG CaRa.jpg
Sweetgum and CaRa top.jpg
FAT pine.jpg
big pine crown.jpg

Though the biggest part of the park is a (30 acre?) floodplain, there's one small mound (claimed as an Indian mound by some) that is an island of more upland species including one Silverbell and a really tall, triple trunked Basswood:
tri trunk basswood.jpg
tri top basswood.jpg

The city champion Silver Maple resides in this park (including in tree list above):
Silver Maple.jpg

One of the only parks in Atlanta that I've found such numerous and large Cottonwoods:

One area is almost solid with Green Ash, though they all seem to be about 109'-113' tall:
Green Ash.jpg

Another species that I only occasionally find to be big/tall around Atlanta is Black Cherry and this is about the biggest and is the tallest in the city:
110' cherry.jpg

One of the most impressive finds was this 102' tall Persimmon! Wowzers! Tallest in GA I believe...
DiVi bark.jpg

And the best for last....

Tallest Sweetgum in Atlanta (5' shy of tallest in GA)
140.3 LiSt.jpg

Tallest Shumard Oak in Atlanta (and GA?)
141' QuSh and 136' LiSt.jpg

Okay...enough typing. Off to the woods again. It's supposed to be 60 and sunny on this late January day.
by eliahd24
Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:01 pm
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S. Peachtree Creek tributary, Atlanta, GA

Another amazing winter day in Atlanta. Mid 50's and insanely sunny and dry. This was my second outing in as many days. The goal was to revisit a few tall trees I measured in 2010 and do some more thorough searching for hidden gems.

This site is a sliver of a green space in NE Atlanta on a tributary of Peachtree Creek. I inventoried exclusively on a steep East facing slope along with a few trees in a floodplain area.

I started off by entering the woods much further South than I intended, which was a blessing in disguise, allowing me to "discover" 2 particularly amazing trees- a Northern Red Oak and a Beech Tree.
Creek bed at South end of forest:
creek bed south end.jpg

This was no run-of-the-mill Beech. Upon closer inspection, I realized this would be the new city champ, which is quite impressive b/c the current champ is no slouch at 12'2" x 116'!
What a trunk!
BIG beech trunk.jpg
14'2" x 126.9' FaGr.jpg
Having both great girth and extraordinary height, this will likely be state co-champion for the species (current champ is 327 points, though I believe the height may be exaggerated at 135')
It was right along the creek and had neat little pockets in the root flares with native ferns:
Beech fern pockets.jpg

Next up was a magnificent Quercus rubra . This is the first confirmed over 140' in Atlanta at 141.3' tall x 10'1.5" CBH . It's also one of the tallest in the state, though I know Jess Riddle has found a few taller in the mountains. Might be a champ for the Piedmont??
Tall QuRu and Tall FaGr.jpg

Next up was a remeasure of a tall Bitternut Hickory ( Carya cordiformis ) down in the floodplain. This skinny tree (CBH: 5'6") faces a 75' slope and has it toes in very moist substrate. Again, another impressively tall tree which may be the tallest in the state:
133.9' CaCo.jpg
CaCo bark.jpg

My other remeasure was a big Quercus rubra also in the oxbow. It was 10'9.5" x 133.1' tall.

Full inventory and R10:
QuRu 10'1.5" x 141.3'*
LiTu 133.9'
CaCo 5'6" x 133.9'**
PiTa 9'5" x 129'
FaGr 14'2" x 126.9'
TiHe 6'11.5" x 126.7'
LiSt 124.9'
PiEc 6'10" x 122'
CaGl 119'
QuAl 118.1'
MaMa 1'7" x 56.9' (Bigleaf Mag.)
R10 = 127.6' (this will rise with additional measurements on QuAl and LiTu species)
*Tallest in Atlanta and top 5 in state
**tallest in GA? Jess Riddle has documented a few of similar height in N. Georgia

The forests of Atlanta continue to surprise and amaze. Overall, in terms of diversity, tall trees, and big trees, metro-Atlanta is more impressive than any other urban center east of the Mississippi (aside from possibly Memphis?).

by eliahd24
Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:04 pm
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New finds - Cook Forest State Park, PA


On 2/1/12 I decided to re-measure a tall pine beside my house on the Cook Estate. On 5/16/10 it came in at 8.4ft CBH x 153.5ft high. On Wednesday, two growing seasons later, it now stands at 8.6 x 154.7ft high. Not bad for a second growth pine.

After this, I decided to take a short walk back to the park boundary and check out some other second growth pines growing on the slope above the Indian Cabins. I was VERY surprised to find the following white pines:

CBH Height Comments

9 149.5 tac 921, 41 20.069N x 79 12.450W
10.3 152.7 tac 920, 41 20.046N x 79 12.407W
8 160.2 tac 922, 41 20.086N x 79 12.439W

None of these pines I've measured before. I've measured 100's of pines in the park over the last ~10 years, but have yet to seriously get into our second growth pine stands, measuring our higher priority old growth stands first.

This pine is like a spike growing straight up into the air, about 1/2 up the slope of the, ~300 vertical feet up from the valley floor, growing near the bottom of slanting bowl depression on the side of the hill. The other two pines were very close by. All trees are virtually right on top of the Indian Trail. There are a handful of others that'll likely break the 140ft class, and I'm hoping there'll be another sleeper 150 footer or better in there as well.

As I systematically go through the stand, I break the area up into sections so I know where to start up again the next time I'm in. This section is on the uphill side of Indian Trail. I've got a few more trees in this zone to measure, then I'll likely go downhill from the trail working my towards the Indian Cabins. Most Nts who've visited the park over the years during the rendezvous know that's where we house our speakers during the events. Well, just uphill from there is where this last batch of dandies were hiding.

We've now catalogued the following living white pines for Cook Forest:

Height Class # trees
150 78
160 30
170 3
180 1

by djluthringer
Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:08 pm
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Rothkugel Plantation, WV

NTS: I had a chance to stop and measure some trees in this plantation the afternoon of 10-22-2011. Gaines McMartin has previously posted about this site. His comments and some good pictures can be found here:

I thought I would add a little more information about this site. It is located near Thornwood, Pocahontas County, WV along WV 28 not less than ½ mile from its intersection with US 250. Pictured below is a sign along the road marking the location of the entrance of a trail (right of sign) that loops through the stand.
Photo by Turner Sharpon an earlier visit to the stand 6/20/2011

The elevation at this sign is 2,920’. The aspect is west to northwest. There is a small hollow with an intermittent stream to the right of this entry trail. I walked up this trail about 2/3 way to about 3120’ measuring trees until I got good heights and CBHs for 5 dominant Norway Spruce (Picea abies) and 5 European Larch (Larix decidua). The trail later loops to the right to the other side of the small hollow and comes back to WV 28. Instead of doing the loop one could continue up to the top of Smoke Camp Knob at 4200’ elevation but would have left the plantation. This trail is marked as FS 324 on the official Forest Service map

My five tree height average for Norway Spruce was 120.8’ and lower then Gaines 7 tree average of 122.7’. The tallest Norway Spruce I measured was at 135.5’ and will be height record for West Virginia .The five tree average for the European Larch was 102.1 with the tallest at 104.9’. The complete listing of trees measured can be found in the Trees Database at:

Max Rothkugel was in the employ of George Craig and Son Lumber Company of Philadelpia, Pa when he established this 150 acre plantation in 1907. Site preparation consisted of burning the slash left over from previous logging operations. Apparently Rothkugel had a failure on a 20 acre experimental tract in 1906 because of birds and squirrels getting most of his broadcast seeds. In 1907 instead of broadcasting seeds his workers spot planted groups of seeds about six feet apart. His goal was to plant about 60 % Spruce and 40 % Larch with occasional strips of Black Locust to discourage grazing by sheep and cattle. The Spruce and Larch seeds were obtained from Josef Janwein’s Seed House in Tunsbruck, Tyrol. The Black Locust seeds from Willadaen Nursery in Warsaw, Ky.

Apparently several years after its establishment fire got into the stand and the young seedlings may have been reduced to 25% of their original coverage. The area burnt soon had blackberries and were much appreciated by the local population but was soon followed by native hardwoods. In the area I covered the crown canopy was at most 25 percent Spruce/Larch. I did not notice any Black locust or any reproduction of Spruce or Larch. The USFS acquired the stand in 1924. Driving along the highways near the little towns of Durbin, Frank, Bartow and Thornwood one cannot help but notice a number of Spruce and Larch trees about the same age decorating people’s yards and fence rows which may have affected the survival rate in the plantation.
I had the privilege of visiting Buckland State Forest in Massachusetts with some ENTS to see a Spruce/Larch plantation. My impression is that the Massachusetts site has better moisture conditions and a deeper, richer soil. If the Massachusetts site is a CCC plantation it means it had to be planted after 1933 which would make it at least 26 years younger than the Rothkugel Plantation. The spruce there are pushing 140 -150’ with at least one measured slightly over 150’. The Rothkugel is pushing 125-135’ range although I believe we may find a few 140’ trees. The big difference between the stands was the vigor of the Larch at Buckland. I believe some of them are approaching 150’. I did not see any Larches in Rothkugel in a dominant crown position and most look sickly. I would be surprised to find one at 110’. It would be nice to get a confirmed age of the Buckland State Forest stand.

More information may be found in the Forest Quarterly, Volume VI published by the New York State College of Forestry in 1908. It may be found at the following link:

On pages 40-46 is an article by Max Rothkugel titled Management of Spruce and Hemlock Land in West Virginia.
Additional information may be found in a publication titled 50 Year History of the Monongahela National Forest. Pertinent information is found in chapter 6, page 44. The rest of the publication makes interesting reading as it covers the early years of the National Forest. It may be found at the following link:

Turner Sharp
by tsharp
Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:01 pm
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Connecticut's tallest tree - the LeClair Tulip Poplar


Today Bart Bouricius, Ryan LeClair and I looked at a stand of tuliptrees that Ryan had scouted out growing near his home in Trumbull. The site is on the Pequonnock River in a park that runs along the river. It took only seconds to realize that the site offers feast of tall tuliptree. The spot looks more like Virginia than Connecticut. I spent my time identifying the tallest trees in the stand and measuring and remeasuring them. N room for error. We put a push pin in each measured tree.

I’ll get right to the numbers.

Tree # Height Girth

4 138.8 7.8
6 145.7 11.4
2 150.7 9.6
1 152.0 10.5
5 152.0
3 155.0 8.9

Number 3 becomes the LeClair TT, and at this pint, it is Connecticut’s tallest accurately measured tree. Obviously this tree is named in honor or Ryan who found it and shared it with us. Thanks Ryan. Let's now have a look at Ryan's tree.



After leaving the area Bart and I found another grove of TTs on Route 108. There are several over 11 feet in girth. I measured one at 11.3 feet around and 121 feet in height. There may be a 130 or two. Still later we measured a big TT in Farmington. Its stats are girth 13.5 feet and height 118.5.

We saw many TTs. Most of the tall ones are between 120 and 130 feet. There are definitely lots more places to search, but much of the landscape is boulder strewn with very thin soils - lots of TTs, but none of real significance. Ryan really has a special spot on the Pequonnock. There may be another 150 there, but not more. There are probably a couple more 140s in the small stand. The TTs on the opposite side of the river drop dramatically in height. They’re younger trees. The tallest is around 135 feet.

Bart and I stopped in Simsbury on our return trip to check on the great Pinchot sycamore. It took a big hit in the Oct snowstorm. But it will make it fine. It measures 28.0 feet in girth and the highest spot is 99.1 feet now. Its average crown spread has probably dropped to a little under 140 feet. Still a formidable tree.

by dbhguru
Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:43 pm
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Merrit Forest State Preserve

Last month I took advantage of the unusually warm weather and went to northeast Iowa to look for and measure big trees. Saturday January 8th I met District Forester Bruce Blair and we spent the day in White Pine Hollow, a state preserve in Dubuque County Iowa. I will give a report on what we found there in another post. Sunday I went to Merrit Forest State Preserve, which is another great place to see tall old trees.

Merrit Forest is a twenty acre tract of virgin forest which is located only about three miles from the Mississippi River in Clayton County, Iowa. Clayton County is also where I found the national champion calliber black ash. I had only visited Merrit Forest once before in April of 2011. At that time Bruce Blair and I covered most of merrit but we only had time to measure a couple of trees. We measured what appeared to be the biggest red oak and the biggest bitternut hickory. The red oak had these dimensions, circ. 12'8.5', height 115.6', spread 82.5' for 289 total points. We determined the bitternut had these dimensions, circ. 6'6", height 113', spread 61' for 210 total points. The red oak was impressive and it surpassed the previously tallest known red oak in Iowa by 1.6'. The bitternut though was in a class by its self. There are plenty of open grown trees with larger trunks but this one was 22' taller than anything else I had ever measured in Iowa!

On January 8th, I had enough time to do a more thorough inventory of Merrit. The tree species in Merrit are much like you would find in other forests in this part of the country. There are numerous sugar maples (possibly black maples) red oaks, basswoods and white oaks with lesser numbers of walnuts, red elms and hophornbeam. I'm sure I'm omitting some species since I was concentrating on the tallest trees. One species that I remember being scarce was white ash. I only remember seeing two white ash and both were dead. One of the dead white ash was worth noting. It had blown down but it was mostly intact so I was able to stand by the ends of what would have been the top most twigs and with my range finder shoot to the base. I was getting a reading of 37/38 yards, which coverts to between 112' and 113'. Even if the actual height was somewhat less it would have been a new height record for Iowa.

Here is a list of the trees I was able to measure on January 8th 2012:

Species Circumference Height Spread Total Points

Sugar Maple 11' 94.5' 71' 243.3
Sugar Maple 10'5" 103' 55' 243.5
Basswood 9'8" 101.1' 62' 232.6
white oak 9'9.5" 108' 64.5' 241.6
Bitternut Hickory 6'6" 117' 61' 214
Red Elm 8'2.5" 113' 55.5' 225.4

I measured the height of the tall bitternut hickory again, but from a different side and I was able to get a clean look at the obvious highest twig. I remeasured this tree because I was afraid I had made a mistake. I could hardly believe there was a bitternut hickory in Iowa with a height of 113'. Instead of reducing the height it turned out to be 4' taller! That makes it 26' taller than the former tallest bitternut hickory in Iowa!

If you ever visit Merrit Forest please make sure there is no mud on your boots that could introduce garlic mustard to this pristine site.

Mark Rouw (Iowa Big Tree Guy)
by Iowa Big Tree Guy
Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:30 pm
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Eldorado Mountains, NV

I have been meaning to write some posts about the desert SW where I am currently living. Yes there are trees! I have a couple about gallery floodplain Cottonwood - Willow forest half way written.

The Eldorado Mountains are located in extreme southern Nevada, just to the west of the Colorado River, and are welded volanic tuff on older precambiran metamorphic core.The mountains got their name for the 150 year history of gold and silver mining. Slopes are steep have thin gravelly "soils" on bedrock. Canyon bottoms alternate large boulders and sand/gravel wash deposits. The area probably gets <5" of precipitation a year. Surface water is completely absent except after rare heavy rain events, when flash floods cause streams flow in canyon bottoms. I examined three canyons [Oak Creek, Lonesome, Unamed Canyons]. Local relief is nearly 2000 ft.

Because of the low precipitation, vegetation is mostly Mojave desert shrubs. But, "trees" do occur in canyon bottoms where shade reduces evapo-transpiration and those occasional rain events result in more moisture.

I use quotations around trees, because they are the shorter than the 150 ft guys that we tend to like or focus on in this group. This raise the question where shrub ends and trees start. I found three "tree" species growing. I didn't measure any trees, but just estimated given the tallest probably 25 ft. Also, there is nothing special about this site that isn't replicated in any number of other similar sites.

Catclaw Acacia [ Acacia greggii var. greggii ] is generally a shrub or small tree, with branches covered with sharped, curved spines, that can draw blood. Like the more famous mesquite, it can have very deep roots that seek water. It is found in dry stream beds [washes], river floodplains, and rocky slopes. Most I saw were <15 ft tall and multi-stemmed.

Desert Willow [ Chilopsis linearis ssp. arcuata ] is generally a shrub or small tree, with narrow, willow like leaves. It is related to Catalpa and also has attractive spring flowers. It is often used as a native landscape plant and for bank stabilization. Most were <15 ft tall and multi-stemmed.

The most important tree is Shrub Live Oak [ Quercus turbinella var. turbinella ]. Further to the southeast in Arizona and Mexico it is a major component of oak chaparral, while in Nevada it is restricted to canyons and north facing mountain slopes because of the smaller influence of the summer monsoon. It is evergreen, with bristle tipped leaves. Generally it is a shrub, but can become tree size [in fact American Forests lists the largest some 50 miles west as 51 ft tall]. Most I saw were <15 ft, but a sizable number reached 20-30 ft. Diameters would be tricky to measure, as they are nearly always multi-stem [3-5 seems most common]. Individual steams mostly < 1 ft diameter.

Like the other two species listed, they have long root systems that sprout, forming colonies. Its acorns can be an important wildlife food and provide shade that provide habitat for various other species.
by Chris
Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:20 pm
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Lake Champlain Valley and whopper cottonwoods


Monica and I visited my son Rob on Sunday and Monday. He currently lives in Keeseville, NY, but spends lots of time in Plattsburgh. He had been trying to get me to visit for a look at some big cottonwwoods he'd found. First a look at Lake Champlain. It is about 13 miles across that this point.


Champlain is a real lake, and it exerts a major influence on the surrounding vegetation. One species it influences plus the glacial history of the region is the eastern cottonwood. We went to old Plattsburgh AFB and toured what was once a SAC base of great importance. I once had a military connection to Plattsburgh, but on this trip it was about cottonwoods. The first cottonwood we stopped at is a very old one. Let's first take a look.


The tree in the above image measures 18.0 feet in girth and 81.0 feet in height. It appears to date back to at least the period of the War of 1812. I was impressed. We were off to a good start. This cottonwood was the biggest I had measured to date in Champlain Valley.

Then we went to a second cottonwood. Let's take a look at the second tree. I present two images of it.



The second tree is substantially larger than the first. It measures a whopping 22.1 feet around and is 109.0 feet tall. Very impressive tree.

There were other sizable cottonwoods in the vicinity, a number that exceed 12 feet of girth, but none as large as the above two. So, satisfied, we left the area an went to an estate in Plattsburgh to see a third cottonwood. I'll present three images of the tree and then give its statistics. Get ready. It is a monster.




Folks, this is one stupendous cottonwood. Its stats are girth = 26.9 feet, height = 128.5 feet, and average spread = 112 feet. That computes to 479 big tree points. It is truly the OMG Cottonwood. The 479 point total is my personal highest for a tree in the Northeast. And the OMG Cottonwood is in fine shape. I believe it to be one of the greatest trees in the Northeast. I'm going to try to get in contact with the owner of the estate and get permission to spend much more time at the tree. I believe I can nurse the tree's point total up a little. I may not have hit the highest spot, but was certainly close. The approximate coordinates of this great tree are lat 44.70 N, and long 73.45 W.

The listed NY champion cottonwood has the dimensions G=28.9 feet, H = 99 ft, Spread = 92 feet. Total points = 469.

by dbhguru
Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:14 pm
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