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Atlanta city Rucker 10 index

As I compile more and more trip data for various sites across metro Atlanta, I thought it would be neat to look at a city-wide Rucker 10 index. It would be great to compare this to other metro-areas across the east as well. Here's what I have thus far:

Atlanta, GA citywide Rucker 10 index
Species Height Location:
CaGl 134.10 Fernbank Forest
LiSt 136.40 Parkwood Park
LiTu 157.20 Deepdene Park
PiEc 129.40 Fernbank Forest
PiTa 142.20 Fernbank Forest
QuAl 143.80 Frazer Center Forest
QuRu 137.20 Beecher Park
FaGr 123.00 Emory University
TiAm 129.70 Fernbank Museum
FrAm 125.90 Tanyard Creek PATH
Rucker 10 index: 135.89

by eliahd24
Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:54 am
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Beecher Hills, Atlanta, GA

I had a great outing yesterday at another nice urban greenspace in Atlanta called Beecher Hills. It's tucked in a neighborhood on the SW side of town. It is now owned by the city (after being threatened by development) and a lot of invasive removal work is being done by the local non-profit Trees Atlanta. It's mostly a ravine with the creek heading north and the steep hillsides providing good habitat for big trees on either side. It flattens out at the North end into a floodplain as well. This site needs to be revisited after leaf drop and I encourage any/all of you to visit with me (Jess, maybe during winter break again?). Just take a look at what I've found so far:

* Carya glabra - 6.7' x 141.1’ (summer measurement) - this could be C. ovalis or a unique subspecies...will have to investigate more

* Magnolia tripetala - 2.4' x 73.7’

Quercus rubra - 12.8' x 137.2’

* Quercus stellata - 6.8' x 105.1’ (summer measurement)

Liriodendron tulipifera - 13.2' x 155.4’

*I believe these are ENTS height records- any taller you know of?

This site seems very productive and probably includes some very old trees! There's a nice herb layer of Doll's eyes, rattlesnake fern, jack-in-the-pulpit, and bloodroot- all key species in other "old growth" areas like Fernbank Forest.

There’s some super tall trees that need to be remeasured in the winter including a number of Sweetgum and other Oaks (S. Red and Black Oak I believe).
by eliahd24
Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:48 am
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Atlanta city Rucker Height Index - January 2011

The Rucker 10 index for Atlanta (trees within the I-285 boundary) is now just shy of 140' at 139.6' !

Here's a brief rundown, with more details in the attachment:

Species CBH' Height' Location
Liriodendron tulip. 13.25 166.20 Beecher Hills
Carya glabra 6.70 142.60 Beecher Hills
Quercus alba 8.33 142.50 Fernbank Forest
Pinus taeda 9.42 142.20 Fernbank Forest
Liquidambar styrac. n/a 140.20 Herbert Taylor Park
Quercus rubra n/a 139.20 Herbert Taylor Park
Quercus coccinea 10.50 131.90 Herbert Taylor Park
Fraxinus americana 14.00 131.60 Louise G. Howard Park
Tilia americana 6.96 130.50 Fernbank Museum
Pinus echinata 6.50 129.40 Fernbank Forest
RUCKER 10 Index 139.63
Fagus grandifolia n/a 129.40 Emory University
Platanus occidentalis 17.08 129.10 898 Monroe Circle, Atlanta, GA
Carya cordiformis n/a 127.00 Emory University
Ulmus alata 6.73 126.60 Fernbank Forest
Populus deltoides 13.50 125.30 Herbert Taylor Park
Quercus falcata 8.63 123.50 Fernbank Forest
Quercus nigra 12.32 121.40 Cascade Springs
Pinus strobus 5.96 121.30 Frazer Forest
Quercus velutina 5.10 121.30 Fernbank Forest
Nyssa sylvatica 6.30 120.20 Fernbank Forest
RUCKER 20 Index 132.07
Acer saccharum 6.17 119.40 Beecher Hills
Quercus hemis. 6.38 116.40 Fernbank Elementary
Fraxinus penn. n/a 113.70 Herbert Taylor Park
Quercus phellos 18.30 112.40 6 Lakeview Dr, Avondale Estates, GA
Quercus bicolor 6.21 112.10 Parkwood Park
Acer saccharinum 7.21 111.00 Herbert Taylor Park
Prunus serotina 5.50 111.00 Fernbank Forest
Carya illinoiensis n/a 110.30 Herbert Taylor Park
Acer rubrum 6.20 109.30 Lionel Hampton Park
Diospyrus virginiana 3.92 108.60 40 Oaks Nature Preserve
Quercus stellata 6.75 108.00 Beecher Hills
Juglans nigra n/a 105.00 Fernbank Forest
Carya tomentosa n/a 100.50 Cascade Springs
Oxydendrum arb. 6.16 99.40 Cascade Springs
Celtis occidentalis 5.08 94.10 Lullwater PATH
Pinus elliottii 6.71 91.60 328 Clifford Ave, Atlanta, GA
Betula nigra 7.83 89.22 East Palisades
Quercus coccinea 11.54 85.30 Piedmont Park
Quercus michauxii 10.50 83.80 1/2 way down Murray Hill Ave
Magnolia grandiflora 3.54 83.55 Fernbank Forest
Magnolia macrophylla 2.60 82.70 Cascade Springs
Catalpa bignonoides 5.83 81.00 53 Rockyford Drive
Acer negundo n/a 80.10 Beecher Hills
Robinia pseudoacacia 5.33 78.50 Decatur Cemetery
Ilex opaca n/a 77.10 1006 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA
Magnolia acuminata 2.21 74.82 Woodlands Garden
Juniperus virginiana 4.25 74.40 Frazer Forest
Magnolia tripetala 2.38 73.70 Beecher Hills
Ostrya virginiana n/a 70.40 Medlock PATH
Pinus virginiana 4.50 67.90 Decatur Cemetery
Rucker 50 Index 109.33
by eliahd24
Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:55 pm
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Clear Creek Nature Preserve, Atlanta

Just when I think I've tromped through every last exceptional urban forest in Atlanta, another one appears. Clear Creek Nature Preserve is over 50 acres of floodplain forest along Clear Creek, north of Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA. It's owned by the Brookwood Hills Community Club and access is [somewhat] restricted. I stumbled upon this area b/c of a rumored "Civil War era" beech tree. Well on that first visit I didn't find any exceptional beech trees, but I did find what should be a state co-champion Shumard Oak. I contacted the green space owners and they welcomed me with open arms and encouraged further tree hunting, giving me unrestricted access to the forest. On valentine's day I was able to spend the afternoon tromping around the floodplain and was quite pleasantly surprised with the numerous exceptional tree including a state co-champ Sweetgum, a very large Sugarberry, a hybrid Q x beadlei and lots of decent sized Green Ash. One of these ash trees had fallen and was cut to reveal ~110 annual growth rings.
Here's the rundown:

Clear Creek NP trees_Page_02.jpg
-it should be noted that the 21' CBH Tuliptree is a double trunked specimen.

Clear Creek NP big beech.JPG
Clear Creek NP tall Sweetgum.JPG
Clear Creek large trumpet creeper vines.JPG

by eliahd24
Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:26 am
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Tree climbing snakes!

Last summer I had the great experience of seeing a black racer climb vertically up the furrowed bark of an old tuliptree in an old section of forest on the campus of Emory University here in Atlanta, GA. Quite amazing!

by eliahd24
Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:50 pm
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Bulloch Hall, Roswell, GA

During this fantastic spurt of spring-like weather I had a chance to visit the grounds and forested areas at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, GA. Jess Riddle told me about this spot and the current state champion Bigleaf Magnolia is one he found on site about 10 years ago. I was on a mission to find said tree along with a large tuliptree Jess mentioned as well. Turns out I found both (I think) and a good bit more as well.

Here's a rundown of the superlative trees, starting with the Bigleaf Magnolia's ( Magnolia macrophylla ). This is the finest stands of Bigleaf I've ever seen! Beech sized Bigleaf's everywhere!

Magnolia macrophylla on N/NW side of creek (Roswell Baptist Church property?):
CBH: 2' 7.5" (one of 3 tight trunks)
3' 1" (one of 2 trunks)
3' 2"
3' 4.5"
3' 5.5" (largest of 4 trunks!) x 78' tall
3' 7" (splits to 3 trunks)
3' 8" @ 3' above grade (splits to 2 leaders)
3' 11" x 82.6' tall
4' 7" x 91.2' tall x 39' avg. spread - (!) - State Champion from 2001?, if not, it's a new champion; also first documented over 90' (?)

Magnolia Macrophylla on Bulloch Hall (S/SE) side of creek
CBH: 3' 1.5" (rotten side trunk)
4' 2.5" (two other trunks: 3' 5.25" and 2' 9.25") x 83.9' tall (tree was 6' 6" below split, but clearly multi-trunked)
Bigleaf video:

Other significant trees:
Carya tomentosa - 7' 4.5" x 111.4'
Cornus florida - 49.0' tall (!)
Pinus echinata - 6' 10" x 108.1'
Juglans nigra - 12' 5" x 95.7' x 91' spread
Quercus alba - 15' 7.5" CBH
Prunus serotina - 9' x 93.7' (two trunks)
Quercus falcata - 9' 3" x 105.7'
Quercus rubra - 9' 6.5" x 139.8' (!)
Juniperus virginiana - 81.7' tall (!)
Liriodendron tulipifera - 17' 5" x 114.1' (gnarly. old looking tree with large cave and resurrection fern)

Video of giant Tuliptree

The bigleaf, n. red oak, and eastern redcedar are all the tallest I've measured in Georgia. The dogwood is second to a 56' specimen in Atlanta.
I will compare with other statewide data soon...

If any ENTS can confirm taller Bigleaf anywhere I'd love to know about it. I highly recommend a visit to this old plantation and forest if you're in the Atlanta area! It's one of the few spots where the open grown trees on the grounds (some dating back to the early 1800's homestead) are equally as impressive as the forest trees (or vice versa).

...pix forthcoming as well...

by eliahd24
Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:37 pm
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Hawk in Umbrella Magnolia

This red-tailed hawk was just beside me perched in the champion Magnolia tripetala behind Fernbank Museum. Truly awesome moment!

by eliahd24
Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:47 pm
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Re: Fork Ridge Tuliptree- new eastern height record!!!

The Rucker 10 for Fernbank Forest in Atlanta, GA is now a hair over 136'. Not too shabby for an urban piedmont forest of only 60 acres.
by eliahd24
Mon May 02, 2011 10:42 pm
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Kelsey Tract and Cheoah Hemlock

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Kelsey Tract of old growth forest outside of Highlands, NC. Jess Riddle had given me directions, but I also hooked up with Kyle from the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust and he ended up leading the tour. It was a wonderful day with temp's in the upper 60's, drizzle, and fog. Sure felt good after a heat index of 110 3 days earlier in Atlanta.

We met at 10am and immediately headed down the steep slope. Our group included some research colleagues from Southern Polytechnic State University who are helping me core and age old growth in Fernbank Forest, along with a few other friends and tree enthusiasts. None but Kyle had ever seen Cheoah in person, so needless to say we were all quite excited.

From the very start, this forest amazed me. A truly primordial feel. Everything was damp and the layer of leaf litter and duff was spongy soft. So many fungi, mosses, lichen, herbs, etc. And fantastically big, twisted, gnarly trees!

Video of our approach:

It doesn't take long to get to Cheoah and it kind of snuck up on me (or me on it). It's really awe inspiring. Our whole group just got silent as it came into view.

Choeah on video:

This is the view from the side of the opposite slope- it just dominates:
Cheoah in fog.jpg

This picture turned out blurry, but I kinda like it that way:
blurry Cheoah and me.jpg

Kyle informed me that a large tree adjacent to Cheoah had come down last year and finally fell all the way to the ground over this past (harsh) winter. Cheoah now truly stands alone. It's a very healthy looking tree with lots of green growth from top to bottom. I only saw a few small sprigs of dead branches at the very top (through my rangefinder).

Measuring trees was not my primary goal for this trip, it was more just for the experience of being amongst the last giant hemlock known to exist. I did, however, get a rough height (via SIN method) for Cheoah. It came out to 163.2'. Will climbed this tree within the last year, so I'm sure he did an extremely accurate tape drop at that time as well.

The area surrounding Cheoah (the valley if you will) is loaded with big hemlocks. Kyle showed me a number of big hits from LIDAR on a map he had printed out. I'm sure Jess and Will have combed this area pretty good, but I'd love to come back after leaf drop (but before bitter cold and snow) and do some extensive surveying of big trees. I'd especially like to see how tall the Fraser Magnolias get in this area. They seem to dominate unlike cucumber magnolia in many other forests of the area
multi trunk fraser magnolia.jpg

hemlock stand.jpg

After spending time with Cheoah we bee-lined it straight up the hill to reach the ancient Carolina Hemlock forest on the opposite ridgetop. What a task! Though only about 250 yards away, it was around 400' vertical and solid rhodo's and even thicker doghobble! It really thinned out near the top though and a wonderful elphine forest appeared:
dwarf ridge top forest.jpg

The maples and fraser mag's were about the same height as the mountain laurel! I'm told that this is the oldest (cored) stand of Carolina Hemlock as well. We saw quite a few up top. Many were fairly healthy, some were sickly and heavily damaged from adelgids, some were completely dead:
sad Carolina hemlock.jpg

After some time at the top, we bush-whacked back down. One friend trampled some ground bees and got a couple nasty stings, but thankfully we had benadryl on hand and she was not allergic.

It's amazing how fast time flies when you're wandering around massive trees and old growth in an utterly amazed stupor. We easily spent 2.5 hours at the site in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

In closing, I'd like to mention that Kyle is interested in doing some light trail maintenance in fall/winter and I think a small ENTS crew (tarheel ENTS especially) could really help him out in this endeavor. I know I want to go back and I'll use any excuse. These are just narrow social trails that the land trust uses and this area is NOT open to the public. It's far too sensitive and special. Kyle and everyone at the land trust were very welcoming and accomodating to me (being a total stranger) and they seem to really appreciate the work ENTS does, including documenting these exceptional forests and treating the hemlocks for those damned horrid adelgids.

So, any takers on a future trip to Cheoah??
by eliahd24
Sat Jul 16, 2011 4:53 pm
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Emory University Trees

I live and work right down the road from Emory University in Atlanta, GA and have had many forest explorations on their expansive property. They have a strong commitment to protecting and preserving their special forests and have numerous faculty and staff members who see the value of their special wild places. I thought I'd share some of the highlights from my adventures in those place from the past 2-3 years: (*note- measurements are CBH" x Height')
Emory - Champ OxAr.JPG
Emory Champ QuCo.JPG
Emory champ PiTa.JPG
Emory champ PiTa crown.JPG
Emory Bottlebrush buckeye.JPG
Emory Grayskull.JPG
Emory large BiCa 1.JPG
Emory large PI and BiCa.JPG
Emory large PI scale.JPG
Emory - PI ring count.JPG
Emory large ViRo.JPG
Some wildflowers:
Emory hepatica2.JPG
Emory doll's eyes2.JPG
and perhaps the most unique organism on campus, the elusive Bay Starvine - Schisandra glabra :
Emory starvine1.JPG
Emory Starvine alt leaves.JPG
Emory starvine bark.JPG
Emory Starvine bower berries.JPG

Some other great finds w/o pictures:
130" x 127.5' Quercus rubra
74" x 124.3' Platanus occidentalis (one-off tree, probably planted near old homesite)
40.5" x 64.9' Ostrya virginiana (city champion)
58.9' Magnolia tripetala
17" x 52.7' Magnolia macrophylla
113.5" x 153.8' Liriodendron tulipifera
120.7' Fraxinus americana
129.4' Fagus grandifolia (need to remeasure, currently is tallest in Atlanta by about 3 feet)
88" x 81.1' Celtis spp. ( leavigata? )
127' Carya cordiformis
44" x 50.6' Carpinus caroliniana (city champion)
87.1' Betula nigra
7" x 24.4' Aralia spinosa (city champ runner up)

... and finally the big whopper... Georgia State Champion Northern Red Oak (beat out previous champ by 60 points!!)
.....located on a residential property beside campus:
Emory - Oxford N. Red Oak.JPG
by eliahd24
Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:54 am
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Eli Dickerson and Trees Atlanta

Hi Ed and NTS,
I'm credited on the Trees Atlanta website under their program for Atlanta's Biggest Trees (champion trees). I've completely revamped the list, tripling the numbers of champs and finding many new champions, while also getting updated measurements on many long time champs. Here's the link:


by eliahd24
Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:09 pm
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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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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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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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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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Re: Atlanta city Rucker Height Index - January 2011

Nice JR! I saw a few copperhead there, though not many. A lot of brown snakes and a few ring neck snakes too. One time I even saw either black rat snake or a black racer climbing straight up the furrowed trunk of a Tulip Tree! Really amazing.
by eliahd24
Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:39 pm
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Frazer Forest, Atlanta, GA

Frazer Forest is a ~30 acre mature hardwood (dare I say "old growth") forest in the Lake Claire/Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, GA. It's about halfway between city of Atlanta and city of Decatur. It lies in a ecologically rich section of the metro-area that has numerous rich, old forests within a 1.5 mile radius including Fernbank Forest, Deepdene Forest, Parkwood Park, Lullwater Nature Preserve, and numerous forest pockets at Emory University. This forest is high in the watershed (around 1000' elevation), with the southern sections of the forest lying only 1/2 mile (as the crow flies) from the eastern subcontinental divide- a natural ridge line that bisects Atlanta. There is a perennial creek that average less than 6" deep in most places, but always has flowing water. The creek runs due North, then bends Northeast. On either side of the creek are rich hilly slopes, and also flat spots of floodplain that are well protected.

Frazer Forest and the nonprofit Frazer Center (which owns the forest and grounds) has an interesting history. The grounds were formerly the sprawling estate of Cator Woolford, the founder of (what is now known as) the Equifax company in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Woolford maintained an expansive and impressive landscape known as the "Secret Gardens". In 1949, the property was sold and buildings were converted to schools and facilities serving populations with cerebral palsy. Today the Center continues to serve both adults and children with disabilities. While working at Fernbank Museum of Natural History (2005-2011), I had the opportunity to partner with the Frazer Center and lead forest walks for summer camp students. I also assisted in multiple invasive plant removal projects with high school service learning groups. But what was perhaps the most fun for me was exploring the deeper reaches of the forest and consequently discovering, identifying, measuring, and nominating numerous Atlanta Champion Trees.

Today I had the chance to visit Frazer Forest with my 2 nieces. It was 60 and sunny- perfect for exploring the woods. Also the leaves are beginning to bud out, so my tree hunting season is coming to a quick and sudden end here in the deep south. Wildflowers are popping up everywhere and plentiful recent rains have kept the forests rich and moist.

Here's a recap of what I found today and also highlights from previous trips to Frazer Forest.

Tall/Big tree list:

LiTu 13'6" x 149.6'
LiTu 15'5" x 127.2' (single trunk GIANT with blown out top- city co-champion)
LiTu 14'0"
LiTu 13'5"
LiTu 13'2.5" (one of a pair that look like the much photographed twin tuliptrees at Joyce Kilmer)
LiTu 12'2"
LiTu 12'1"
LiTu 11'3" x 142'
LiTu 19'3" (3 distinct trunks fused near ground level)
QuAl 8'4" x 143.2' (now dead - 170+ annual rings @ 40' above ground), was tallest in Georgia
QuAl 8'0" x 134.4' (living tree)
LiSt 9'5" x 134.8'
QuRu 11'5" x 133.6'
PiTa 8'1.5" x 130.5'
FaGr 8'(?) x 125.7'
FaGr 10' x 121.9'
CaGl 6'9" x 124.6'
PiSt 6'0.5" x 123.8' (rare forested specimen in Atlanta)
QuFa 10'1" x 122.2' (2nd tallest in Atlanta, one of tallest measured in GA)
TiAm 6'1.5" x 115.3'
FrAm 6'1" x 112.8"
CaCo 6'2" x 110.4'
TsCa 5'3.5" x 98.1' (planted)
JuVi 4'3" x 74.4' (two planted specimens flanking entrance- tallest in Atlanta)
OxAr 3'4" x 65.6'
MaTr 1'10" x 62'
IlOp 2'8" x 54.5' (large grove of 50' tall hollies)
CaCa 2'0" x 49.3'

Rucker 10 Index : 130.3 (129.4 with living QuAl)

Smaller species:
Rhododendron maximum - 9" cbh x 15.6' tall x 21.5' spread (city champion)
Cercis canadensis - 3'6" cbh x 27.4' tall x 36' spread (city champion runner-up)
Lindera benzoin - 6" x 16.9'
Amelanchier arborea - 1'3" cbh x 23.4' tall x 20.5' spread (city champion)

... and now for the pictures...

me and the tulips.jpg
tulip twins.jpg
white oak seedlings.jpg
towering white pine.jpg
rue anemone.jpg
pawpaw forest.jpg
log bridge.jpg
forest buddies.jpg
black oak leaf.jpg
150' tulip.jpg

by eliahd24
Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:33 pm
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Atlanta city Rucker Height Index - January 2012

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

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

by eliahd24
Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:12 pm
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Cooper Creek WMA, GA

On Sunday, March 25th, I took advantage of the gorgeous spring weather by traveling the 2 hours from my home in Atlanta to Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area in North Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. I had previously read about the area in one of the great online "Sherpa Guides" that cover many different natural areas in Georgia. I knew Jess Riddle had been to the area in the past, so I also was able to consult with him to devise a "plan of action" for the day. To say I was excited about the trip is a major understatement. The daily grind of full time work and full time grad school was getting to me and I very much needed some "forest time". I couldn't convince any other (human) friends to go with me, so alas it was just the puppy and me. All the better :)

Those who know Cooper Creek will tell you that there is a chunk "old growth" forest there. The more years I get under my belt as a naturalist, the less I know what those words actually mean. I expected a couple of remnant (old) trees and knew of some "huge" tuliptrees from online postings, but again, until I saw it for myself I wasn't fully convinced. Boy oh boy was I in for a wonderful surprise.

Cooper Creek is a classic rich mountain cove forest. The area I explored is on a north facing slope above Cooper Creek at about 2500' elevation.
Cooper Creek topo.png

The trail system in this area is mostly old dirt logging roads, but thankfully those loggers left a good deal of this cove as God intended it. I should really call this trip report the "Day of the Tuliptrees" as that's where my focus was and that's mostly what I measured and gawked at the whole day. It was truly amazing. Now on to the data....

Liriodendron tulipifera (smallest to largest measured):
12'8" x 129.4'
13'2" (huge fire cave)
15'5" x 114.2' (blown out top)
16'3.5" x 127.3' (blown out top, multiple reiterations)
17'5.5" x 157.2' x 91' = 390 Big Tree Points (GIANT! - I will nominate as new state co-champion)
19'3" x 132.2 x 71' = 381 Big Tree Points (I believe this is currently listed as state co-champion)

Tuliptree pictures:
Ophie the tree hunter.jpg
Cooper LiTu 14'7" full shot.jpg
Cooper Creek 15'11" LiTu.jpg
Cooper fattest LiTu base from afar.jpg
Cooper fattest LiTu CBH.jpg
Cooper fattest LiTu broken crown.jpg
Cooper fattest LiTu w scale.jpg
Now the above tuliptree is the one many online sites (including Sherpa Guides) claims to be the "biggest in Georgia". It's not the tallest (not by far), it doesn't have the most total points (about 20-30 short), and I know Jess Riddle has documented a few Tulips around 20' CBH and over, so it's not the fattest... so it ain't the biggest, right?

This next tree is likely overlooked by many visitors as it is up the slope and a bit off trail from the "biggest". It's smaller in CBH (though 17'+ ain't nuthin' to sneeze at!), but much taller, with a crown that's still intact. I took very careful measurements of both Tulips to get accurate point totals with the suspicion that the "skinnier" one would outpoint the "biggest"... I was right :)
Cooper Creek champ LiTu.jpg
Cooper Creek Champion LiTu CBH.jpg
Cooper Creek champion LiTu w Ophie.jpg

Other tree species measured:
Betula lenta 4'0.5" x 85.7'
Betula lenta 11'1" x 102.8' x 56' ("walking" birch, exagerrated CBH)
Carya spp. 111.1'
Magnolia fraseri (probably) 2'9" x 85.3'
Oxydendron arboreum 3'8" x 82.2'
Oxydendron arboreum 5'0.5" x 94.9'
Pinus strobus 10'6"
Tilia spp. 111.9'

And more pictures...

Nice Sourwood:

Cooper OxAr2.jpg
Cooper OxAr1.jpg

Wildflowers and such:

Cooper yellow violet.jpg
Cooper rue.jpg

This gnarly "walking tree" was a beauty. Now how would YOU measure the CBH? From the midslope at the ground it's 11'1" and total points = state champ

walking birch2.jpg
walking birch1.jpg

This is Betula lenta , right?
Cooper birch1.jpg

That is all for now. On my way out on Forest Service Road 33, I passed a nice double trunk hemlock (9'3" and 11'3" CBH's x 140') and a 4'5" x 100'+ double trunk Virginia pine as well... I'll post about those under my forthcoming Sosbee Cove report... also a fantastic site!

by eliahd24
Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:39 pm
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Emory University trees and state champ Shumard Oak

Emory University is a large private school in Atlanta, GA. It owns hundreds of buildings and probably over 1,000 acres of property between Atlanta and Decatur, GA. I would say they are better than most schools in their environmental and ecological ethic in regards to property management. They have numerous very nice green spaces and have taken great effort to have little-to-no canopy loss in recent years. Endangered plant species like Bay Starvine (Schisandra glabra) have been found on their property, along with a handful of state champion trees and numerous city champion trees. I happen to live (and work) less thank 5 miles from Emory and have spent much of the last 3 years exploring their numerous and varied green spaces. This is a synopsis of my most recent trip on April 1st, 2012. (no fooling)

The first and possibly most impressive tree I "found" was a specimen Shumard Oak ( Quercus shumardii ). This tree may actually be on CDC (federal) property, though it is nearly surrounded by Emory University property. It lies on the south bank of S. Fork Peachtree Creek. It's above the normal floodplain, but probably still getting ample water from having its roots down near the creek. It's a whopper of a tree. Will be the new state champion by over 30 points!

Stats: 16'11" x 123.1' x 107' (!)
Quercus shumardii crown shot.JPG
Quercus shumardii cave.JPG
Quercus shumardii crown shot.JPG
Quercus shumardii_Matt and Sara.JPG

The trees/data:

Carya alba 7'2" x 119.2'
Carya alba 6'1.5" x 110.3'
Cornus alterniflora 10" x 23.5' x 22.5' (city runner up)
Liriodendron tulipifera 12'10.5" x 149.5'
Liriodendron tulipifera 10'10" x 144.9'
Liriodendron tulipifera 10'11" x 147.6'
Liriodendron tulipifera 9'0.5" x 151.9'
Liriodendron tulipifera 11'1" x 142.5' (OH shot)
Liriodendron tulipifera 10'11.5" x 154'
Liriodendron tulipifera 9'3" x 164.6' (!!) (probably the tallest in Atlanta and top 5 measured in GA)
Magnolia tripetala 2'1" x 69.1' (2nd tallest in GA?)
Ostrya virginiana 60.1'
Ostrya virginiana 3'4" x 66.9' (city champ)
Quercus falcata 6' x 117.3'
Quercus rubra 9'1" x 123'
Quercus rubra 9'6" x 128.3'
Sassafras albidum 3'0.5" x 68'
Tilia heterophylla 6'8" x 117.8'

The north facing cove of the final spot I measured was LOADED with tall trees. Great habitat, moist habitat, and just a fantastic spot for big trees. With our early spring in Atlanta, I was measuring in poor conditions- by that I mean the trees had already FULLY leafed out. Oh well. If i'm getting numbers this high with a full canopy, then I can't wait for leaf drop in the fall!

165' LiTu at Emory_Peavine woods.JPG

Champ Carya alba_Houston Cove.JPG

1950 Beech carving.JPG

Flowering Cornus alterniflora.JPG

One particular green space within the campus is loaded with great trees that exhibits many of characteristics of old trees that Neil Pederson has mentioned in his posts and papers. Here's some pictures of the gnarl-factor:

Gnarly QuAl_Houston cove.JPG
Gnarly LiTu_Houston Cove.JPG
Greyskull LiTu.JPG

The wildflowers:

Wild Geranium.JPG
Trillium luteum.JPG
Trillium cuneatum_Peachtree creek.JPG
Sweetshrub flowering.JPG
Solomon's Seal_Polygonatum biflorum.JPG
Solomon's Plume.JPG
Doll's eyes flowering.JPG
Old Houston Mill bridge.JPG

by eliahd24
Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:59 pm
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Texas champion tree photos

Found this great Picasa photo album of a number of Texas state champion trees. Just magnificent:

I've got a trip planned to visit Austin, TX in late May 2012. Any suggestions of trees/forests to visit in that area are greatly appreciated (or spots near the interstate btwn Atlanta and Austin). It seems there a patch of "old growth" somewhere near the confluence of West and East Bull Creek in Austin... anyone been there? Ideas on where to park? Trailhead?

by eliahd24
Sat May 12, 2012 10:28 pm
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Atlanta Champion Tree list- 2012

I have just finished editing the new 2012 Champion Tree List for metro Atlanta. This program is sponsored by Trees Atlanta and will be posted on their website in the near future (2011's list is still up for now). I've attached the file as a pdf.

Trees of note (and some pictures):

Fagus grandifolia - 12.4' x 121.7'x 110'
FaGr city champ - Lullwater Park.JPG
Fraxinus americana - 14' x 131.6' x 56.3'
Tanyard Ash.JPG
Liriodendron tulipifera - 16' x 151.6' x 89.5' (Emory's campus)
Riddle Tuliptree2.JPG
Riddle Tuliptree at Emory.JPG

Liriodendron tulipifera - 11.5' x 164.4' (leaf on measurement)

Oxydendrum arboreum - 6.2' x 99.4' x 38' (old Civil war battle site in SW Atlanta)

Populus deltoides - 20.8' x 86' x 86' (middle of midtown Atlanta)
champion Cottonwood.JPG

Quercus alba - 14.6' x 138.1' x 96'

Quercus falcata - 19' x 94.1' x 111'
Israel Baptist QuFa- 18.45 cbh.JPG

Quercus coccinea - 12.8' x 133.1' x 87' (Emory's campus)

Quercus pagoda - 23' x 102' x 130' (state champ, but miss-ID'd as falcata )
Biggest Tree in Atlanta with Team.JPG

Quercus rubra - 20.1' x 123.4' x 115' (front yard tree!)

Quercus shumardii - 16.9' x 123.1 x 107' (Emory's campus, adjacent to Peachtree Creek)
Quercus shumardii crown shot.JPG

Quercus velutina - 12.3' x 125.9' x 90' (Piedmont Park, small forested area)

Tilia heterophylla - 7.2' x 127.8' x 50'

Ulmus alata - 8.6' x 124.6' x 50'

by eliahd24
Thu May 24, 2012 1:27 pm
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Grand Canyon National Park

Just back from a marvelous western adventure that included 3 days and nights and the Grand Canyon. Lots of Ponderosa Pine, Juniper, and Pinyon Pine to be seen at the South Rim. Along with small scrubby oak species (Gambel Oak mostly). The biggest trees, however, were the massive Cottonwoods ( Populus fremontii ) at Indian Garden, down the Bright Angel Trail. This is an oasis that sits 3000' below the south rim in a little notch that has perennial water due to a spring (I believe). It was actually farmed by Native people until 1919 (guess what happened then... it became a NP under federal control!). Some of the cottonwoods near the springs/creek are well in excess of 20' CBH. Probably near 25' for the biggest. Really amazing. I was on a trail run so I did not have any gear or even a camera phone with me. Worth seeing for yourself though, I promise :)
by eliahd24
Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:08 am
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Re: 6/9/12 champion tree event in Atlanta

Hey guys. It went quite well. In fact we were graced with the company of Congressman (and civil rights icon) John Lewis! I got to lead a very small group including Mr. Lewis on a walk to a few different champions. Namely Tuliptree, Blackgum, Mountain Laurel (yes it's tree sized), Yellowwood, and American Beech. I put some pictures up on my Facebook, so friend me if you dare :)

At the end of the month I get to teach the NTS SIN method to a bunch of tree climbers at a monthly Atlanta Tree Climbers Club meeting hosted by Tree Climbers International. Pretty stoked about that too!
by eliahd24
Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:16 pm
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