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Re: A nice swamp white oak---

I like to look up into the branches of open grown trees to look at their bark. Swamp white oaks generally have that nice, distinctive peeling bark that looks alot like birch bark. If the branches are too high, like in a forest, I like to use binoculars to get a close up view of the bark way up there. Acorns also work the burrs on the acorn caps of bur oaks makes them easy to tell apart from swamp white oaks.
swamp white oak.jpg
bur oak.jpg
white oak.jpg

by DougBidlack
Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:37 pm
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Hainich National Park, Germany


my wife Ellen and I were able to visit Germany for a little more than two weeks from the very end of April to mid-May. Our visit was prompted by my Oma (grandma) turning 90 this year in July. Since we could not visit for more than a week in July, we decided to go earlier in the year for a more extended stay. Only ten years earlier we had gone for Oma's 80th birthday party which was held in the Czech Republic. This event had even more significance for me and Ellen because I proposed to her on the morning of Oma's birthday in a lovely beech forest.

This trip was also to be mostly a family trip since we were going with Ellen's dad, Steve. Steve had never before visited Germany. My parents arrived the day before and they picked us up at the airport. So, even though I was hoping to see some nice forests and trees, I was well aware that this would be a family trip first and foremost. Not that I was complaining too badly.

My mom is originally from the city of Bamberg and this is the place where we have always started all our vacations in Germany. Several times we never really went very far from this wonderful city. My Oma still lives in this city and she never learned to drive; she always walked or biked to wherever she needed to go or on infrequent occasions a relative would take her somewhere by car. My Uncle Bernd and Aunt Hilde are recently retired and moved back to the area as well, so Bamberg again became our destination for our first 11 days. For this reason I feel like I need to say something about Bamberg before I start talking about Hainich National Park, trees and forests. I hope this isn't to upsetting to folks.

Bamberg is a city in the northern part of Bavaria. This northern region of Bavaria is known as Franconia and it has only been a part of Bavaria since 1803. The people of this region refer to themselves as Franconians and not Bavarians. Franconia is noted for their regional wine which comes in funny looking bottles and for their sausages and a number of sweet treats, but the area is really noted for their beer. There are close to 300 breweries in Franconia and Bamberg is smack dab in the middle of Franconia. Bamberg, a city of 70,000, has 9 breweries and it is a great base for any beer sampling in Franconia. Perhaps the most famous beer from Bamberg is a Rauchbier (smoke beer) that is a beechwood smoke flavored beer. I believe Bamberg was first considered to be a city by 973 as I remember the 1,000 year celebration in 1973. The most prominent building is the Bamberger Dom (the Bamberg Cathedral). H8.jpg H9.jpg H10.jpg

On the second day of May we were to meet Kouta at Hainich National Park. Hainich National Park was a two hour drive North for us into the state of Thuringia which was once part of the former East Germany. The forest is 13,000 hectares and it is the largest continuous area of deciduous forest in Germany. The National Park is 7,500 hectares but I think that not all of this is forested. So I think we met Kouta at 10 AM at the park and we decided to go on the canopy walkway at first. On the way to the canopy walkway we encountered this nice English Oak. H1.jpg
It measured 18.1' in girth. I did a quick shoot up with the laser to see about how tall the tree was and I believe it was just under 100'. While on the canopy walk we came upon a European Ash that was easy to measure and Kouta wanted to see how I would measure it with my Nikon Prostaff Laser 440 and Suunto clinometer. He also wanted to see how close we would get. I came up with 103.8' but I didn't write down the number that Kouta came up with. I know it was very close. I think Kouta had the Nikon 550? H2.jpg
Kouta spent a great deal of time teaching me about the various species of trees that we saw along the canopy walkway. H3.jpg H4.jpg
According to the website, there are about ten tree species that can be viewed from the canopy walk but I seem to recall a few more. Here are the ones that I remember. I hope that Kouta will correct me on these. I'll give latin names first, then the names that we use in the US, then UK and lastly in German. I hope these are correct.
Acer platanoides = Norway Maple (US and UK), Spitzahorn (Germany) = Pointed Maple
Acer pseudoplatanus = Sycamore Maple (US), Sycamore (UK), Bergahorn (Germany) = Mountain Maple
Carpinus betulus = European Hornbeam (US), Common Hornbeam (UK), Hainbuche (Germany) = I believe this translates literally to Grove or Woodlot or Thicket Beech
Fagus sylvatica = European Beech (US), Common Beech (UK), Buche (Germany) = Beech
Fraxinus excelsior = European Ash (US), Common Ash (UK), Gemeine Esche (Germany) = Common Ash
Prunus avium = Mazzard or Sweet Cherry (US), Wild Cherry (UK), Vogel-Kirsche (Germany) = Bird Cherry
Quercus petraea = Durmast Oak (US), Sessile Oak (UK), Traubeneiche (Germany) = Grape Oak or Grape Cluster Oak ? (I'm not sure)
Quercus robur = English Oak (US and UK), Stieleiche (Germany) = Pedunculate Oak (also known as Common Oak in UK and other countries?)
Sorbus torminalis = Wild Service (UK), Elsbeere (Germany) = Serviceberry (not sure of literal translation of Els)
Tilia cordata = Littleleaf Linden (US), Small-leaved Lime (UK), Winter-Linde (Germany) = Winter Linden
Tilia platyphyllos = Bigleaf Linden (US), Broad-leaved Lime (UK), Sommerlinde (Germany) = Summer Linden
Ulmus glabra = Wych Elm (US and UK), Bergulme (Germany) = Mountain Elm
There was a third maple that we saw at Hainich, but I'm not sure if it was from the canopy walk. It was:
Acer campestre = Field Maple (US and UK), Feldahorn (Germany) = Field Maple
We also saw far down below
Salix caprea = Goat Willow (US and UK), Sal-Weide (Germany) = don't know literal translation of Sal (Weide = Willow)
After the canopy walkway we ate lunch and it began raining. We still decided to take a walk in a 'core area' of the park that would have taller trees.

Once we arrived at the trailhead it started to pour and only Kouta, Ellen and I decided to go for a walk. We became fairly wet but I do think that Kouta made at least one measurement of a Black Poplar (Populus nigra) when the rain was quite light. I don't remember the number that he came up with. This tree was in a fairly flat floodplain area where the forest floor was covered with a species of Allium. We later walked up a good slope and it appeared that the tallest beeches were growing on this steep slope. I know I didn't take any measurements and I almost didn't take any pictures as we were running out of time. I'm not sure if Kouta took any measurements, but I know he did take some pictures too. Here are some of mine. H5.jpg H6.jpg H7.jpg
Unfortunately we didn't get any good measurements due to the rain and time constraints but I had a very enjoyable experience meeting Kouta and visiting Hainich National Park. For me, meeting other members of ENTS is even more rewarding then measuring trees as I have only met really wonderful people that really care about trees and forests.

I'll be posting at least one more time on this trip to Germany and more likely at least a couple.

by DougBidlack
Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:50 am
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Kelheim Forest, Germany


I have procrastinated long enough. I'm finally going to write about my trip to Kelheim forest back in May of this year. There were a couple reasons for me wanting to check this place out. The first is that Kouta informed me that it was supposed to have the tallest European (common) ash in Germany and that this stand seemed like it would be relatively easy to find. The second is that I had to convince my relatives that this would be a cool place to visit...and it is! It is along the Danube River flowing between nice cliffs and there is some award-winning dark beer to be had at the oldest brewery at a monastery (redundant?) in Bavaria and perhaps the world. The monastery is located just a few kilometers upstream from Kelheim in Weltenburg.

Background info on the forest is from a paper by Maximilian Waldherr and titled "Der Eschen-Eichen-Bestand in Wipfelsfurt bei Kelheim" ("The ash-oak stand in Wipfelsfurt near Kelheim"). In this paper he said that the oldest trees in the stand were 149 years old (now 167 years old) when he measured it in 1992. The oldest trees are ashes and oaks and the beeches were planted later. These are the three dominant trees of the stand and the only other species that I noticed when I visited was sycamore maple. He says the the tallest tree was an ash that measured 49.8m (163.3') in height and 85cm in diameter (8.75' or 2.67m in girth). I believe Germans measure at 1.3m (4.26') rather than at 4.5' (1.37m). I wasn't sure which species of oak was involved since the species was not indicated in the paper, but Jeroen has indicated to me that he is quite sure that it is Quercus robur (English/common oak). Jeroen says that of the two common oaks in Germany, English oak is the one that is typically found in floodplains with high pH soils (this region is all limestone). The other species is Q. petraea (sessile oak) and it normally grows in the hills and it is not so tolerant of frequent flooding or lime.

So in early May I set off for Kelheim with Ellen (my wife), my mom, my dad, Ellen's dad, my uncle bernd and my aunt Hilde. It was cloudy, rainy and cold. Unusually cold for Germany at this time of year, but we were hoping that at least the rain would eventually let up. We made a rest stop that conveniently happened to be near a big store selling all sorts of chocolates and candy. We then moved on to visit Regensburg which is a beautiful city located on the Danube River not too far downstream from Kelheim. In fact, Regensburg had just recently been named the most beautiful city in Bavaria just ahead of Bamberg. Bogus! Bogus I tell ya! Not that I'm biased or anything because my mom just happens to be from Bamberg. Ellen seemed to be the most distraught. She declared that "sure Regensburg is pretty, but no way is it more beautiful than Bamberg". Man, does Ellen know how to butter up the family or what? The rain had mostly stopped by this point and Hilde and Bernd showed us the most impressive sites of the old part of Regensburg, but our bellies soon told us it was time to make for the Weltenburg Monastery and get some good food and beer. The meal was just plain incredible, especially with the great beer! After the meal we decided to split up; I would go to the Kelheim forest with Ellen and everyone else would head out and see some local sites. Unfortunately the time they gave us was far too little. K1.jpg

We were finally on our way to see the tall trees but first we had to cross the river. There was a neat little ferry that we decided to try and after a bit we were able to find the man who operated it. My mom asked him if he knew about the tall trees and he did! He described how to get to the site and it exactly matched up with where I thought it was. Very encouraging. The short trip across the river was quite fun.
We had to follow a small road along the Danube for a short while until we found the Donauroute hiking trail. During the short roadside walk we were treated to some nice views of the Monastery. The first picture in this post was taken from this road. Once on the hiking trail we immediately began to climb up to the cliff which overlooks the Danube River from the North. Once we climbed to the top we had our very best view of the Monastery.
The forest here was dominated by beech and they were not particularly large. A typical scene follows.
After a couple kilometers the trail connected to a gravel road and we began to make our descent to the river. Just as we reached the river their was an orchard on the downstream side of the road and the forest was on the upstream side. To get to the forest I had to cross a remarkably deep ditch. Ellen decided not to go in because she wanted me to hurry as she didn't want us to be too late. The first nice tree I spotted was an oak. Shooting straight up I got an amazing 142.5' (43.4m). I couldn't believe it. I was there to measure the tallest ash and I didn't even really think about the oaks at all. I started running around like a little kid and yelling to Ellen that she just had to see this!
All the numbers I'm going to give are shooting straight up with a laser. The first tall ash I saw was 142.5', the second was 141' and the third was 142.5'. I thought are you kidding me? I came here to measure tall ashes and I'm not finding one taller than the tallest oak. So I moved farther into the forest (upstream or west). I saw what looked like a taller ash. It was 147' (44.8m) tall. Cool! It was also 9.54' (2.91m) in girth at 4.5' (1.37m). This could very well be the tallest one measured by Maximilian. If it is the same tree it is maybe 16' or so shorter than his measurement which was made 18 years earlier. In that 18 years it would have had to grow about 0.5" in girth per year. As Jeroen has mentioned to me this seems possible.
At this point Ellen said that we really needed to leave. I was very bummed. This site deserves much better.

After leaving the forest we walked very quickly towards the town of Kelheim. Here the trail stayed close to the river and was very flat. We covered the 2km or so in very little time but we were still quite late.

Upon arriving in the US I was able to communicate this info to Kouta and later to Jeroen. Jeroen told me that the tallest ash I found was exactly as tall as one that Tomasz Niechoda had measured in Bialowieza, Poland. The main difference being that I did not make a sine top sine bottom measurement and it is therefore less accurate. The Bialowieza site is also old growth and Jeroen mentioned that it is colder and drier than the Kelheim site as well. In light of the recent info by Neil on old trees I should also point out that the Kelheim ashes and oaks appear to be quite vigorous and still display good apical dominance...they're a long way from topping out at this site! The highest points were generally right over the center of the trees and they were easy to find. I'd be surprised if the tallest ash, if it is even the tallest ash, doesn't make 150' in less than a decade. Jeroen also mentioned that the one English/common oak that I measured may be the tallest so far measured in Germany. Ofcourse this all needs to be confirmed and happily Kouta recently mentioned that he wants to visit this site in fall or perhaps early next spring. I can't wait.

by DougBidlack
Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:31 pm
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Michigan Pin Cherries?


Ryan's recent post on a potential big pin cherry in CT prompted me to post on some cherries that I found in MI. This all started last year in mid-April when I went to visit my parents in Michigan. On the way over there I was thinking about some serviceberries that I wanted to measure and I started driving by all these flowering trees in central and western New York state. Since I had Amelanchier on the brain I wondered if...nah, they were just too stout...and too dark to be serviceberries. Mind you, this is all driving at highway speed, or thereabouts. My best guess was that they were some kind of cherry, and since I ordered a number of my own fruit trees from the region I figured they were likely sweet cherries. I think I went to Highland State Recreation Area the very next day to check out those serviceberries. I just knew they were over 50' and some that I had seen in the distance during a previous hike looked to be well over 60'. I found one nice serviceberry that had fallen over and it was a little over 50' and around a foot in diameter but I didn't write it down because I was sure the others were bigger. Well I found the big ones, three of them all there together, and they sure looked an awful lot like those trees in NY. So I ran down to check them out and sure enough they were cherries. Darn! Sweet cherries?! I measured the biggest one anyway and took some pictures because I was uncertain of their identity.

2.22' x 77.7' Wow! Even bigger than I thought, but I figured this was probably no big deal for a sweet cherry. Here are a couple pictures.

I then decided to check out another tree that I thought might be the same species near the parking lot of the park headquarters.

It measured 3.31' x 57.3'. Both of these trees were measured using SIN up SIN down. Two pictures follow.

I didn't think about these much until I ran into a couple more of these trees at Lower Huron Metropark in February of this year. Unfortunately I have no pictures and I was trying to measure a lot of trees that day so my heights are from straight up shots with the laser.

These trees were even bigger. The fat one was 5.78' @3'7" x 75' and the tall one was 4.15' x 81'. Pretty cool, but I figured they still weren't that big for sweet cherries so I forgot about them again.

In October, just a little over two months ago, I attended the NTS meeting in Holyoke, MA and I bought a book on tree bark after listening to the author, Michael Wojtech, give a talk. When I got home and I was leafing through the book I came upon the pin cherry pages. Hey, these look just like the trees I saw in Michigan! If they are, they would be pretty nice. I checked out a 2003 measurement of the MI champion tree and it was 5.00' x 75' x 50' = 148pts for a tree in Kalamazoo. Since Ryan mentioned the National champion tree I was curious if it was this tree. It appears to be one of the co-champions but remeasured in 2009. The new measurement is 5.08' x 80' x 63' = 157pts. The co-champion, which I believe is from the same area in Kalamazoo, measures 4.67' x 93' x 22' = 155pts. I'm guessing these measurements, particularly the heights, are a bit on the high side. If the trees I measured were indeed pin cherries they will probably compare favorably to these two from Kalamazoo.

So, do the trees in my pictures look like pin cherries to NTS out there? Or will more evidence be required?

by DougBidlack
Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:35 am
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Oak Opening Project


I'm not sure if this is the best place for this post, but here it is anyway.

I planted my first oak from an acorn in the fall of 1994. Actually I planted a couple, one northern red oak and one bur oak. Not long after this I came up with this idea of planting a bunch of acorns in a park nearly adjacent to where I grew up and where my parents still live. Amazingly they allowed me to plant a bunch of bur oaks, white oaks and swamp white oaks in an old field of about 30 acres or so. This old field was quickly becoming overrun by autumn olive and I was hoping to slowly remove these while planting the oaks. Initially I tried growing acorns in containers that I built out of plywood or by using 1/2 gallon milk cartons. Transplanting these to the field didn't work as well as I'd hoped so I switched to planting the acorns in place. In this first post I'm mostly just going to describe this process, but first I wanted to say a little more about where I ended up going to collect acorns as well as a little about the site.

I thought it would be cool to highlight the diversity within each species by collecting from all over North America. This turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. My hope was that there would be significant morphological differences within each species that anyone could easily see. I was also planning on measuring the growth of each tree to determine whether or not the source of the seed would greatly influence their growth rate. The field is rectangular with the east-west length being greater than the north-south length. There is a marsh in the north central part of the field and a second marsh that is mostly on private property at the northeastern end of the field. In wet springs these two marshes will connect to form one large marsh. Acorns were planted in the field based on where they were collected in North America, so bur oak acorns from Vermont were planted in the northeastern part of the field while bur oak acorns from Oklahoma were planted in the southwestern part of the field. A large hill just to the south of the field helps to keep the southern end of the field in snow a good deal longer than the rest of the field. This should help to keep the southern trees from breaking dormancy too early...I hope. I allowed the swamp white oaks to break the rules a bit because I wanted all of them to be planted at the edge of the marshes and it was often not possible to plant them within the invisible lines of their respective states.

Below is a picture of the field looking to the northeast.

And one looking north towards the marsh at the north central part of the field.

So, I'm now going to describe how I went about planting most of the acorns. I always tried to collect at least a hundred acorns from each tree or trees that would represent a particular state. I usually failed but that was the intent. Initially I tried to collect from AF champion trees for each state. I eventually dropped this idea for reasons that I will discuss later. Acorns were then given the float test in water and all "floaters" were thrown out. However, in a number of cases I didn't have many "sinkers" so I would keep and mark the "floaters" with a black magic marker (sharpie). I would use these "floaters" as spacers between the "sinkers" so that the highest quality seeds were not all lumped together. Although "floaters" are less likely to germinate than "sinkers", sometimes much less likely, they are worth planting if you are low on acorns. "Floaters" will germinate better if you soak them overnight in water (some will sink long before this). Even when I had all "sinkers" I would try to make sure that the largest, best-looking seeds were evenly spaced at planting time. I always tried to plant the seeds as quickly as possible in fall and if that was not possible I would store them in plastic zip-lock baggies in the refrigerator crisper until I could plant them. I held some far southern material (Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas etc.) in the crisper all winter long because they were often collected too late in the season to plant in Michigan. These were then planted in April.

At the time of planting a 2' x 2' piece of sod was dug out with a spade and flipped upside down after all grasses were removed by hand pulling. The depth of soil removed and flipped was about 8-12". The spade was then used to break up the soil for planting the acorns. If I had 100 acorns I would evenly space them in a 10 x 10 grid and push them a couple inches into the soil and then cover the little holes up. If I only had a few I always tried to place the best acorn near the center. I then covered the soil with cut straw to insulate the soil and to keep it from washing away during rains. I often piled the straw up quite a bit more for acorns from more southerly locations. I removed the straw in the spring if it was quite heavy. Below is a picture after this stage.

Now it was time to add the cage to protect the acorns from rodents. I constructed this cage from a single 3' x 10' piece of 1/4" hardware cloth. These are sold at hardware stores in 10' rolled up sections. I use the wire that holds these rolls together to sew the two ends of the hardware cloth together. There is always much more than you need for this task. I then place the cage over the acorns, center it and mark the ground along the inside edge of the cage with a plastic tent stake. Spade about 3/4 of the way around along the line and then place the cage in the spaded portion to make sure it will still fit if you spade along the remaining line. I try to make sure the cage is between 4 and 6 inches deep to keep the voles at bay and the wind from blowing the cage away. I like to tamp the soil around the inside and outside of the cage edge with the spade but it is probably better to use something that isn't sharp. The final step is to add a roof. I cut a 3' x 10' piece of 1/2" hardware cloth into three pieces for three tops. Each top can be wired to the cage with the same wire as was used to sew the cage together. I think this top is mainly to keep squirrels out because I think voles are afraid to climb over such a fence in an open field. I use 1/2" because I don't think voles are getting in this way and because it does a better job of keeping snow from building up and crushing the cage than 1/4" mesh. Below is a picture of a completed cage.

With a little luck most of the acorns will germinate and you'll end up with something that looks like the Tennessee bur oaks below after a season of growth. I actually planted these ones a little beyond the usual 2' x 2' planting area.

Eventually the top will need to be removed. Don't do this before you are ready to protect your trees! In a truly stupid move, I once removed a top in the evening after sunset. The next morning I saw some deer walking away from the general direction of the trees I left unprotected. Naturally they shredded the tops of my poor little trees! I usually remove the tops when the tallest tree has reached 18-30" depending on how fast the trees were growing. They usually grow slowly until they reach around 2' and then they take least that has been my experience with most of these trees in Michigan. After taking the top off, a bigger, deer fence is needed. I use a 5' x 20' piece to make a little more than a 6' diameter perimeter. The fence needs to be strong enough to keep deer out and if it's in a windy location I like to use 3 good, metal fence posts.

Picture below is of Kentucky swamp white oaks with top removed from the cage but before addition of deer fence.

The next picture is of Indiana white oaks with top removed from the cage and a ratty, temporary fence to keep deer from eating them.

The picture below is of Virginia bur oaks and the deer fence is actually not 6' in diameter...I need an upgrade. The hill to the south can be seen in the background.

The other big difference with the previous picture is that the 1/4" mesh cage has been removed. I need to put small vole guards around these trees because they are still quite susceptible to these little critters.

I'll talk about the growth of these trees in my next post.

by DougBidlack
Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:06 pm
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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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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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Re: Death Valley vs. Joshua Tree?


I'll second Turner's recommendation. Joshua Tree was wonderful when I visited with my wife and parents around Christmas a few years ago. I think it's relatively compact in comparison to Death Valley and if you get there early enough you can probably see an awful lot of the really cool stuff. We missed the 49 palms oasis...big bummer! Just ran out of time. You know about the Joshua trees and the birds but the rock formations are very cool if you're into that sorta thing. Here are some more pictures for you.

by DougBidlack
Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:37 pm
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Re: Pequonnock Valley, CT Tuliptrees


great work! Heck with this 140' stuff, how 'bout 150'!

by DougBidlack
Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:46 pm
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Lower Huron Metroparks, MI


I am going to use Lower Huron Metroparks to refer to three parks in the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system. The northernmost (upstream-most) of these parks is actually named Lower Huron Metropark and it is followed by Willow Metropark and finally Oakwoods Metropark. These three parks are adjacent to one another and a 15 mile hike-bike trail interconnects them very nicely.

Last Friday I met David Gruenawald at my parent's house in Milford and we drove down to Lower Huron Metropark to meet Doug Ham and his girlfriend Ashley. Doug just jointed NTS and he was interested in seeing some nice trees and learning how to measure them. It was a chilly morning right around the freezing point and it only warmed up to 37 degrees so we didn't stand around much. We were off to the best site that I've yet seen within the three Lower Huron Metroparks. Despite being less than 10 acres in size it contains the tallest known of seven tree species (within these parks) and if I were to calculate a Rucker 10 right now five of the top ten would be located in this little area. The seven tree species are tallest at this site are tuliptree, northern red oak, black walnut, silver maple, bur oak, basswood and hackberry. Doug Ham got to use the laser rangefinder to shoot straight up here and I think he was having a good time. Instead of walking back to the cars the way we came, we decided to do a big loop by crossing the river at a couple of bridges. This allowed us to visit another high quality forest area where we debated the identity of a large, downed tree and we measured a beautiful walnut that I had somehow missed a year earlier. The walnut measured 11.84' x 111' shooting straight up. I had previously identified the downed tree as a green ash when it was still standing last year but I openly wondered about this ID. After much discussion I think Doug Ham and I both seemed convinced that it was indeed a green ash. David seemed less convinced. Here is a picture of David in the foreground and Doug Ham in the background with this tree.
The borer damage especially convinced us that this was green ash.
I measured this tree in February 2011 when it was still standing. It was 11.43' x 109.5' straight up. This is what it looked like then.
GreenAsh2 (1).jpg
When we returned to the cars we decided to drive down to Oakwoods Metropark where we took a walk on big tree trail. Near the end of the walk Dave said that he found some young shellbark hickories and there were several larger ones that appeared to be the same species. He was identifying them by looking at the twigs. I have to confess that I don't yet know how to distinguish this species from shagbark hickory aside from the larger nuts of shellbark. Just before we left I measured the top of the nature center using the NTS methodology and then Doug Ham did it. It looks like Doug Ham will soon be getting a laser rangefinder and a clinometer. Very cool. Dave also surprised me by saying that he would at least like to get a laser rangefinder to search for tall trees. Is that great or what?

Dave also wanted to get together on Saturday to check out trees in the Pinckney and Waterloo State Recreation Areas but he was limping by the end of the day Friday due to his problems with plantar fasciatus (sp?) so he opted out. So I ended up going to Willow Metropark to try and finish up some exploring and measuring in that park. I especially wanted to check out a large green ash to compare it to what we saw the other day. Here are a couple pictures.
I couldn't measure the girth at 4.5' because the trunk was split at this point so I measured the diameter and came up with 3' 7" (calculated girth of 11.26').

Later in the day I found a cluster of trees that I think may be blue ash. They were all dead and most were on the ground. I would love some confirmation of species identity. Here are three pictures of one of the fallen trees.
I have identified blue ash with certainty from this area based on twigs of saplings and one large, open-grown I know they occur here. I just don't feel comfortable identifying the species on the basis of bark alone at this point.

I would very much like to give a Rucker Index at this point as well as some better background information on the parks but I first feel that I need to deal with some ID problems. I hope you can bear with me while I go through each one of these. I guess this first post can be thought of as the 'ash post'. So here is one more ash question...what is the following ash tree? Or is it even an ash? Here are three pictures from last year.
The bark was quite corky and I've noticed that black ash bark is usually described as corky while green ash is sometimes described as corky and I have yet to see blue ash described as corky. I don't know if this matters.

I have more ID quizzes to come from these parks!

by DougBidlack
Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:10 pm
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Re: Lower Huron Metroparks, MI


last weekend I was able to spend a full day in Oakwoods Metropark exploring and measuring. Here is a picture of floodplain that was dominated by green ash (now dead) and silver maple but also with some sycamores and cottonwoods among other species.
Lower Huron 6.jpg
I found a honeylocust that appears to be native. A new species for me in this area. It measured 4.53' x 81' shooting straight up. Here is a picture.
Lower Huron 7.jpg
I crossed the Huron River at the train tracks and took this shot looking downstream at rather short trees with lots of redbud along the river.
Lower Huron 8.jpg
I had to bushwack quite a ways through that mess to get to some nice floodplain forest completely dominated by cottonwoods. They were decent-sized but mostly not gigantic. I don't know if this is because they are younger than the other nice floodplain forests I've seen or if the flood frequency is greater and/or of longer duration as this site appeared to be a little lower and wetter. Farther along still the floodplain forest turned into mostly small, crooked boxelders and decent-sized small trees like roughleaf dogwood, nannyberry and bladdernut. In this region was one nice-sized cottonwood towering over the boxelders and other little trees. A bald eagle nest was located in this tree and mamma was not happy to see me. I twisted my ankle trying to get out of there without disturbing her too badly...I shouldn't have been looking up while departing! Still, it was a nice site to see. I had seen bald eagles on several trips to the area in the past but I had no idea that they actually were nesting here. Very cool! Naturally I forgot to take pictures.

I thought I'd give some info on the tallest and fattest trees that I've found so far. I'll order them from tallest to shortest and I'll list the tallest tree for each species first then the fattest. I've also been adding the height in feet to the girth in inches to get a number that is close to the AF score. In some instances the highest scoring tree is not the tallest or fattest so I'll list it third. I'll call these three metrics height, girth and H+G. In some cases I also list the fattest multi-trunk trees for species that have fatter multi-trunked specimens than single-trunked specimens. For tree species that exceed 120 feet in height or 12 feet in girth I have indicated the total number that I have so far measured that exceed these criteria. Will Blozan measured several trees in Lower Huron Metropark in 2003 and 2004 and some of these are taller or fatter than ones that I've measured. The number of trees that I have so far measured for each species is indicated by a number in parentheses directly after the species name. Heights are all shot straight up for now. Once I survey all the parks I'll go back and do a sine up sine down measurement for all the tallest ones (or I'll use a telescoping pole for the smaller species).

1. Tuliptree (10) Height and H+G: 9.32' x 133.5' = 238.5 pts.
Girth: 9.75' x 121.5'
7 120' trees
2. Sycamore (34) Height: 11.94' x 132'
Girth and H+G: 15.23' x 120' = 302.8 pts.
17 120' trees
13 12' single-trunked trees
3 12' double-trunked trees
3. Cottonwood (68) Height: 10.18' x 132'
Girth and H+G: 20.58' x 120.2' = 367.2 pts. (measured by Will Blozan)
Girth: 19.58' x 117.7' (measured by Will Blozan; girth later remeasured by me to 20.75')
Girth: 21.26' x 109.5' (double-trunked)
35 120' trees
33 12' single-trunked trees
10 12' multi-trunked trees
4. Northern Red Oak (5) Height: 9.23' x 124.5'
Girth and H+G: 14.16' x 90' = 259.9 pts.
1 120' tree
3 12' trees
5. Black Walnut (28) Height: 6.17' x 123'
Girth and H+G: 11.73' x 111' = 251.8 pts.
Girth: 11.84' x 87' (double-trunked)
1 120' tree
6. Silver Maple (28) Height: 9.78' x 120'
Girth and H+G: 11.89' x 112.5' = 255.2 pts.
Girth: 15.13' x 94.5' (double-trunked)
H+G: 14.09' x 115.5' = 284.6 pts. (double-trunked)
Girth and H+G: 23.44' x 112.5' = 393.8 pts. (more than two trunks)
1 120' tree
7 12' multi-trunked trees
7. Bur Oak (14) Height and H+G: 11.92' x 117' = 260.0 pts. (measured by Will Blozan)
Girth: 12.93' x 99'
5 12' trees
8. Slippery Elm (20) Height and H+G: 8.82' x 114' = 219.8 pts. (originally measured by Will Blozan to 9.08' but I measured under all the poison ivy vines)
Girth: 9.53' x 91.5'
9. Black Maple (36) Height: 10.42' x 111'
Girth and H+G: 11.70'@4'2" x 99' = 239.4 pts.
10. Green Ash (9) Height, Girth and H+G: 11.92' x 110' = 253.0 pts. (measured by Will Blozan)

RI 10 = 121.65'

11. White Oak (3) Height and H+G: 11.39' x 109.5' = 246.2 pts.
Girth: 12.48' x 90'
1 12' tree
12. Shagbark Hickory (11) Height: 6.93' x 109.5'
Girth: 8.60' x 91.5'
H+G: 7.89' x 108' = 202.7 pts.
13. Basswood (16) Height and H+G: 7.95' x 108' = 203.4 pts.
Girth: 8.79 x 96'
14. Hackberry (26) Height: 8.26' x 106.5'
Girth and H+G: 11.83' x 97.5' = 239.5 pts.
15. Bitternut Hickory (17) Height: 5.72' x 106.5'
Girth: 8.35' x 94.5'
H+G: 7.93' x 105' = 200.2 pts.
16. American Elm (6) Height: 5.58' x 102'
Girth and H+G: 8.67' x 84' = 188.0 pts.
17. Chinkapin Oak (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 13.05' x 96' = 252.6 pts.
1 12' tree
18. Swamp White Oak (2) Height, Girth and H+G: 9.38' x 96' = 208.6 pts.
19. Kentucky Coffeetree (8) Height and H+G: 7.18' x 96' = 182.2 pts.
Girth: 7.34' x 88.5'
20. Bigtooth Aspen (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 6.11' x 96' = 169.3 pts.
21. Red Maple (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 7.64' x 93' = 184.7 pts.
22. Blue Ash (8) Height and H+G: 4.96' x 90' = 149.5 pts.
Girth: 6.33' x ?
23. Black Oak (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 8.92' x 85.5' = 192.5 pts.
24. Pin Oak (2) Height: 8.61' x 85.5'
Girth and H+G: 13.28' x 78' = 237.4 pts.
1 12' tree
25. Honeylocust (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 4.53' x 81' = 135.4 pts.
26. Sweet Cherry (2) Height: 4.15' x 81'
Girth and H+G: 5.78'@3'7" x 75' = 144.4 pts.
27. Boxelder (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 8.06' x 70.5' = 167.2 pts.
28. Eastern Hophornbeam (17) Height: 2.99' x 69'
Girth and H+G: 3.39' x 67.5' = 108.2 pts.
29. Redbud (25) Height and H+G: 4.09' (largest of two stems) x 54' = 103.1 pts.
Girth: 4.80' x ?
30. Flowering Dogwood (1) Height, Girth and H+G: 2.35' x 45' = 73.2 pts.
31. American Bladdernut (4) Height and H+G: 0.775' x 32.9' = 42.2 pts. (measured by Will Blozan)
Girth: 1.16' x ?
32. American Hornbeam (3) Girth: 1.66' x ?
33. Buttonbush (1) Girth: 1.39' x ?

This is what I have so far. Some trees that I've noticed but not yet measured include:
Eastern Redcedar
Northern White-cedar
Willow (Black and/or Crack and likely others)
Black Locust
Downy Hawthorn (likely other species as well)
Black Cherry
Buckthorn (sp.?)
Siberian Elm
White Mulberry (possibly also Red Mulberry)
Pignut Hickory (possibly also Shellbark Hickory)
Staghorn Sumac
Sugar Maple
Alternateleaf Dogwood
Roughleaf Dogwood
Black Tupelo
Catalpa (sp.?)

I'm sure there are others as well.

by DougBidlack
Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:47 am
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Re: Customary New Years Resolutions


I absolutely agree with all your resolutions but I especially want to make some comments regarding point #1. As you mentioned, the evaluation of each laser should ideally fit on one page, but it should not begin and end with accuracy. I think that price, speed (amount of time required to get a measurement), and ease of use need to be on that table. Usually we only talk about accuracy and maybe price but speed and ease of use tend to get too little attention and I think this is a big mistake. Making these tools easier to use and evaluating them on this basis, I think, will really help to get more people involved.

I remember the first time I went to work for my dad as a machine tool electrician (basically just wiring up large machines that can cover several acres). He didn't just tell me how to do it. He took me, step by step and told me to buy this toolpouch, put these tools (he picked them out and told me exactly why he picked each one, even to the point of describing which electrical tape he used because of how it held up best outdoors after several years among other reasons) in the toolpouch in this order, and then he showed me exactly how to use each one. Very soon, he said, you will never have to look at your toolpouch. You will simply need a tool and you will simply reach back and grab it without thinking. This sort of handholding may seem almost childish. It isn't. It is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome in order to wire up a machine, measure a tree or anything else. The best way is to be taught one on one by a master. Lacking that, filming (or whatever it's called these days) a master and having someone explain exactly what he is doing at every step of the way will suffice. No detail should be left out. Even what clothing you wear, where each tool is placed, which hand you use to grab tool x etc. All this matters when it comes to measuring a tree as quickly and accurately as possible. There are likely many ways to use each set of tools, but some are certainly better than others. Methodology, process, is just as important as the tools we use. I know this only relates to point number one in a kind of sideways sort of way but I thought I should bring it up since I still think about it all the time...mostly because I am so darn slow.

by DougBidlack
Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:39 pm
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7th International Oak Society Conference, Bordeaux, France


the 7th International Oak Society (IOS) Conference was held in Bordeaux, France from the 30th of September to the 2nd of October and my wife and I were lucky enough to be able to attend. In addition, we attended a four day pre-conference tour from Paris to Bordeaux and a five day post-conference tour of southwestern France and a little bit of northern Spain. It was our first IOS meeting but it certainly won't be our last. More on that later. For starters I must say that I didn't measure a single tree and I will simply be showing some images of what we saw along with some descriptions. I'll present this in two parts due to the number of images. The first part will include everything up to the Conference in Bordeaux while the second part will include Bordeaux and everything after.

Even before the pre-conference tour we spent five days in Versailles and Paris. It was tough work and I didn't even get any good tree pictures at all. So my first images are from the Arboretum de Chevreloup near Versailles on our first full day of the pre-conference tour. The first shot is of Ellen next to a sessile oak ( Quercus petraea ).
The previous sessile oak was part of a nice allee. Half of the oaks in this allee were not sessile oaks but I forgot the other species. They were significantly smaller than the sessile oaks.
The last image from this arboretum is of Ellen standing next to a very nice cork oak ( Q. suber ). We were told that many of the old cork forests are currently being sold off and the land is being converted to residential and commercial properties because more and more corks are now synthetic and the cork trees are no longer worth enough to keep the land for this purpose.
The next day we traveled to the National Forest of Berce which Jeroen has already described very well in a previous post. I will simply show seven pictures of this very attractive forest. We stopped at two places but unfortunately I don't know exactly where they are within the whole forest. The first site had much more undergrowth and the trees appeared to be smaller than at the second site. Here is my only shot of the first site.
The remaining six images are from the second site. Several of these trees had fences around them like those in the pictures from Jeroen's post. The oaks here are all sessile oaks and many reached impressive heights as well as girths.
This last image shows Ellen next to a particularly stout sessile oak.
This is all I have for now. I'll try and upload the rest later today or possibly tomorrow.

by DougBidlack
Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:15 pm
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Re: 7th International Oak Society Conference, Bordeaux, Fran


so here is the second part.

We made it to Bordeaux a couple of days after visiting the National Forest at Berce and we would spend three full days in the city. On the second day we took a field trip to see how wine casks were made. They were made with what they called French Oak ( Quercus robur ) or American Oak ( Q. alba ). One of the most important tasks was roasting the inside of the casks over fire and only a few workers were considered skilled enough to be able roast each cask to the specifications of each winery.
After the tour we were each presented with a bottle of wine. Another brutal day!

London Planetrees were very common throughout France and it really made me wonder about the common name of this species. Here is Ellen in the middle of a mini-forest of planes in Bordeaux.

After the Conference we went south to visit a riparian forest along the Leyre river. The sandy-bottom streams and rivers reminded a couple of us of remarkably similar areas in South Carolina.
Quercus robur was very much at home in this riparian forest. Earlier during the Conference a Romanian researcher gave a talk on the oaks of his country and he described the incredible number of Q. robur trees within the vast Danube River floodplain. Apparently there are two types of Q. robur that occur along the floodplains of the Danube and one is more flood tolerant and far more numerous than the typical form. Some people even regard it as a separate species. Unfortunately I don't recall the name of this subspecies/species.

Later in the day one of our French guides showed us a cork oak ( Q. suber ) that had been used to provide cork.
This was very close to the Atlantic Ocean in the Reserve Naturelle Nationale du Courant d' Huchet. This region was again very sandy and much of the area near the ocean was open sand dunes. Another one of our guides was having fun explaining to us that baldcypress was actually a French tree and that it was simply brought to the US by the French. And here was our proof that this is the original homeland of this beautiful species.

Our last stop to visit a forest rather than an arboretum was the Foret Communale de Sare with its ancestral pollarded oak population. The very old pollarded oaks were all Quercus robur but the area was also heavily planted (more recently of course) with northern red oaks ( Q. rubra ). Dan Keiser is standing here next to a fine Q. robur amongst the bracken ferns.
Here is an example of one of the ancient pollards.

These International Oak Society Conferences only occur once every three years and the next one is going to be held at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago, Illinois in 2015. I imagine it will also be held in October which can be a fairly competitive time slot for people that love trees. I have brought up an idea for a Conference talk with Kunso Kim, the Head of Collections and Curator at the Morton and the organizer for the next Conference. The idea would be to give a talk on the world's largest known oaks by a member or members of the Native Tree Society. I think this could be a very exciting presentation of some of the best work by NTS and it could be preceded by a segment on how to properly measure trees. As of now I'm sure that any such talk would be mainly or entirely restricted to Europe, the eastern US and the western US because we know so little about the size of oaks in Mexico/Central America and Asia. Any thoughts on whether this is a good idea or not? Would anyone be interested in giving such a talk? It could even be divided into several segments with a different speaker for each. Naturally I'm putting the cart just a little before the horse but that's just because I think it would be so darn cool!

by DougBidlack
Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:52 am
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Re: Michigan Max Tree List


here is the next iteration of this list.
eNTS Michigan Tree Maximums 8Feb2013(2).xls

It is now in alphabetical order which should make it much easier to use. These are all species that are supposed to be native to Michigan. However recent evidence suggests that the few specimens of chestnut oak (Quercus montana) that have been found in Waterloo State Recreation Area have simply spread from plantings. Also the name Quercus prinus for this species has been recommended for rejection so I changed it in the list. Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) is also questionable from Michigan in light of some work done by Hipp and Weber. All the specimens that they examined appear to be Hill's oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) but Andrew Hipp still feels that true scarlet oak may yet be found in Michigan. I have left both on the list for now although it is quite likely that all the scarlet oaks are actually Hill's oaks.

I also added highbush blueberry to the list because I'm quite certain that the species reaches 15' in height in Michigan. So this brings up my definition for tree which is quite liberal. Basically I'm going to measure any woody plant that can reach 15' in height in Michigan and I'll call it a tree. That just makes life easier for me as I really don't want to have to deal with trying to determine whether or not the plant is too shrubby-looking to be called a tree. I am certain that there are more species that are native to Michigan and grow to 15' in height than are on this list. It will change.


PS, I'm also planning a non-native list but that is well into the future as I'm trying to prioritize here.
by DougBidlack
Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:19 pm
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Re: Silver River, Low Water, Cypress Roots!


I've been there a couple of times. Once in the early eighties with my brother to go fishing and canoeing for a day before we went up to the smokies for a while and once within the last decade with my wife. Ellen and I went canoeing for three days after a conference in Savanna. I think it was late February or early March and we went during a cold snap. The locals thought we were nuts! It was absolutely wonderful but I would like to go again when it's warmer because we only saw a few alligators on the last, warmest day.

by DougBidlack
Fri May 10, 2013 12:00 pm
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Re: Tree Maximums - Genus of the Week: Aesculus (Buckeye)

Matt, Turner,

I like the idea of having everything on one list but perhaps just adding another field to indicate whether or not the tree is still alive. At most this will double the number of entries but it seems like we should be able to deal with that. It is just easier when all the information on one species is kept together.

by DougBidlack
Thu May 30, 2013 7:33 am
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Re: Good spot in NE Michigan? (Lower peninsula)


unfortunately you may be in the poorest area of Michigan when it comes to tall trees. I can't think of any good places at the moment and I did a quick search and couldn't come up with anything better than the site you just visited. The only place that I can think of is Hartwick Pines SP and I'm sure you already know about it. It's also only on the very edge of northeastern LP and probably a little too far. Sorry I can't be of more help but I'm on my way to fireworks. Have fun even if you can't find tall trees and don't forget to measure the little guys like striped maples too!

by DougBidlack
Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:39 pm
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Re: So-called Champion Baldcypress - Please Vote


Ed just perfectly summed up why I have not weighed in up to this point. I don't care. They are simply irrelevant and I much prefer thinking about trees and moving things forward rather than constantly going back to points that are simply a non issue for us. Most people are reasonably intelligent and if they look at our ideas, arguments and evidence then they will side with us. AF can join us or wither and die. I am not saying that you and Don and others are wasting your time for trying to get AF to see the error of their ways, I'm just saying that I don't have the type of patience that you guys have for dealing with people that are unwilling to change even when they are clearly wrong.

by DougBidlack
Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:32 pm
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Sudbury, MA Chestnut


last year I found the tallest American Chestnut that I've ever least I hope it's an American Chestnut. I measured it this April in Subury, MA on land that was once owned by the military. It is now a National Wildlife Area, I think, and I believe it's called Assabet or something. I'll have to look it up later. The stats are: 2.64' (32") in girth, 81.7' tall and 32' in average crown spread. Here are some pictures that I took in July of this year.
by DougBidlack
Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:19 pm
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Massachusetts Bear Oaks


I measured the largest bear oak I've ever seen in Lexington, MA in April of this year but before I give details I thought I'd just show some pictures of what bear oak normally looks like in eastern Massachusetts. This species is especially common in the pine barrens of Cape Cod as well as Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth. The first four pictures were all taken in Myles Standish SF. The first shot shows Ellen in a low spot that gets quite cold in winter and I understand that this is one of the reasons these low areas tend to be remain free of woody plants. The shrubby plants at the edge of this little grassy area are mostly bear oaks. In really tough places such as this they are quite small.
Here is a closeup of one of the bear oaks in this area. It is no more than about 4' tall and the leaves and acorns tend to be quite small even for this species. The others in this cold spot are similar.
Next is a closeup of a more typical specimen that is maybe 8-9' tall. The tallest bear oaks that I've ever seen in Myles Standish are probably in the mid-teens.
This next shot is of a rather unusual bear oak. It has very large, shiny, dark green leaves. It makes me think that it could be a hybrid with black oak which is a fairly common species in the area.
Since these shrubs/trees are what I typically see for the species I was really surprised by one particularly large individual at Great Meadows in Lexington, MA. Great Meadows mostly consists of one fairly large marsh surrounded by upland forest which grades into woodland/savanah and then small meadows. Gray birch is probably the most common species in the drier parts of the open woodland and quaking aspens become dominant closer to the marsh. Black cherry and black oak become more common closer to the forest. There aren't too many bear oaks and they tend to be more common in the drier areas but the biggest one is a bit closer to the marsh and is now getting crowded out by quaking aspens. It measures 1.72' (20.6") in girth, 24'3" in height and 21' in average crown spread. I measured the height with a 50', telescoping pole. This first picture is of the entire tree and I'm afraid it's very difficult to see. It does pretty much fill up the frame vertically though.
Now a closeup of the leaves.
A closeup of the trunk.
And lastly another attempt at an overview of the plant.
Although I measured this tree back in April these four shots were taken last month in July.

by DougBidlack
Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:05 pm
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Re: Sudbury, MA Chestnut


thanks for your input on the species. I have to admit that I don't know the difference between the species and I was reluctant to call it American. I only guessed that this was most likely since it is out in the woods away from any private property where someone might plant a non-native species. The forest is within the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury. Regarding height, I fairly frequently see 40'+ chestnuts and when I first saw this one I was hoping it would be over 70'. Needless to say I was quite happy that it cleared 80'!

by DougBidlack
Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:22 pm
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Re: Tree Maximums - Genus of the Week: Chamaecyparis (Cedar)


just did a quick check to find the fat tree. Tyler measured one to 94" in girth and 91.7' in height also at Cheraw State Park. He posted this in May of this year.

by DougBidlack
Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:17 am
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Re: Tree Maximums - Genus of the Week: Chamaecyparis (Cedar)


I'm pretty sure Thoreau was referring to northern white cedar and not Atlantic white cedar in that quote. Also, Tyler Phillips measured a taller AWC to 99.9' in height in Cheraw State Park, SC in March 2011. He measured the girth to 67". He remeasured this tree in spring of 2012 and got 100.2' in height with same girth (don't know if he remeasured the girth). Tyler recently found a tree with a girth over 7', I think, but I don't yet have that one in my notes. I found some over 7' in girth as well in New Jersey but not quite as fat as what Tyler found. I'll post on what I found some time in the near future...hopefully.

by DougBidlack
Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:11 am
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Re: What type of tree is this?

I agree with Chris and Will. I was just up in Ontario with Kouta just over a week ago and we had 'fun' trying to distinguish between American and Showy Mountain-ash. Along Lake Superior Showy Mountain-ash appeared to be much more common than American but I think here in New England it is the other way around in most places. The two characters we used most often to distinguish the two species were length/width ratio of the leaflets and presence/absence of hairs on the underside of the leaflets. Showy Mountain-ash has fat (2.5-3.2 times as long as wide) and hairy (underside) leaflets while American Mountain-ash as skinny(3.3-4 times as long as wide) usually glabrous leaflets. Since your tree also has fruit you can check fruit size. Showy has fruit 8-12mm in diameter vs 5-7mm in diameter for American. It's best to look at a number of leaves and leaflets because of variation. Good luck!

by DougBidlack
Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:06 pm
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