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Big Red Spruce

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:37 pm
by wrecsvp
Hi everyone,
Here is a very large Red Spruce (Picea rubens) that I found in November at the same forest near Ayers Lake NB where I found the big Black Spruces in the previous topic. This tree is 109' tall by 82" CBH, towering above its neighbours. I believe this is the largest Red Spruce known in Canada and probably among the largest known in the Northern USA as well.

Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:19 pm
by dbhguru
That spruce is a beauty. I've measured quite a few red spruce in the Adirondacks. The larges girths are 90 to 100 inches, but trees of that size are very rare. I've measured heights to about 112 feet. So, your red spruce fits in nicely. In Massachusetts, I've measured red spruce to about 90 inches CBH. Heights have been to 120 feet, but most tall ones are between 100 and 110 feet. One tree, the Northeastern champion on Mount Greylock was at least 134 feet in height at the time it broke apart and fell.


Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:49 pm
by bbeduhn
I don't recall the largest girth but Will has a red spruce to 153' in the Smokies.

Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:30 pm
by Jess Riddle

Very impressive for the latitude. Any idea why this site is so productive for spruce?


Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:04 am
by wrecsvp
Hi Jess,

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

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

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

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

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


Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:55 am
by dbhguru

You've really peaked our interest in that part of Canada. I was especially interested in the 102-foot white ash you confirmed. I've long wondered about the height gradient for that species. Where does it drop below and stay below a 100-foot maximum?

Interesting observations about white and red pine. I see areas in New England that don't support pines much over 100 feet. I'm unsure if what I'm seeing is a degradation of white pine habitat, although for a species that does well on moderately sandy soils, I'm unsure of what is missing. Maybe the soils, whatever their composition, have been lost and trees must grow on bedrock. That will miniaturize any species.

What is the tallest hardwood that you see in your area. White ash?


Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:44 pm
by wrecsvp
Hi Bob,
I have just posted the big White Ash. It is 102' tall by 115" CBH.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:30 am
by Larry Tucei
Hi Owen- That Red Spruce is awesome it blows away any I've seen. When you get a chance could you post a photo of the needles of a Red Spruce. I want to compare the Black and Red Spruce needles. The Bark is also similar, I just want to know the difference. Good photos to. Thanks, Larry

Re: Big Red Spruce

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:48 am
by wrecsvp
Hi Larry,
I've replied here with some photos and comments.