Biltmore Estate Trees

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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by dbhguru » Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm


Congratulations. Wow, you've really added to the bank of data on Biltmore. It really is an outstanding forest. We salute your efforts.

Robert T. Leverett
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Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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James Parton
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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by James Parton » Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:34 pm

I need to get back to Biltmore but there is so much I need to do.
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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:49 am

Biltmore update #?

I remeasured the 2nd tallest dawn redwood, the larch and the Norway spruce. I wasn't able to get the highest measurements on the spruce or the redwood. I've had many different measurements supporting the revised heights and only one to support the highest reported. I'm attributing the highest figures to an inaccurate laser reading achieved when backing up and shooting at the same time.

highest attained actual height
Norway spruce 137.0' 133.6'
Dawn redwood 129.8' 126.4'

Some more numbers and an update
Species common name height cbh old height Biltmore# Hemlock#
Larix decidua? European larch 137.8' 132.9'
Tsuga canadiensis Eastern hemlock 129.3' 1370
139.1' 350
120.8 186 351
116.0' 188
127.5' 877
118.6' 848
123.1' 875
112.5' 4161
116.1' 4138
114.9' 852
120.4' 853
118.6' 850
Tsuga caroliniana Carolina hemlock 107.0' 312
94.4' 1473
110.5' 461
93.0' 462
85.1' 463
Metasequioa glyptostroboides Dawn redwood 83.0' 3908
Picea orientalis Oriental spruce 98.3' 548
Pinus strobus White pine 140.2' 1699
142.3' no#
Tsuga canadiensis v? Weeping hemlock 33.6'
Pinus echinata Shortleaf pine 108.4' 8'6" 107.4' 216
Cryptomeria japonica Japanese cedar 67.5'
Pinus resinosa Red pine 118.4' 116.0' no#

I explored the grove to the right of the house where 3 scarlet oaks of 130'+ once resided. I found just one over 100'. The 141.6' hemlock was in that grove but it looks like the scarlets had been sacrificed for more parking lots. The 106.7' carolina hemlock is very close to the current tallest carolina on the estate at 115.1' I missed it before. I missed the dawn redwood before as well. There is another grove of redwoods that I wanted to hit but it started raining. They'll be tough to get due to two superlative butternuts directly above them, so I'll wait til the leaves are down. One butternut is NLT 126' and the other is 120'+.

Conifer Rucker 10
white pine 158.3'
hemlock 143.6'
larch 137.8'
norway spruce 133.6'
dawn redwood 130.1'
baldcypress 126.7'
oriental spruce 122.9'
red pine 118.4'
nikko fir 115.1'
carolina hemlock 115.1'

RI 10 130.16'

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Will Blozan
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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:42 pm


Great work! Man that place continues to grow. I am really interested in the butternuts since they will smash the current eastern height record. I can rarely find them over 100' with a 115' tree the lone record for many, many years. Where are they? I don't even recall any sizable ones there in my wanderings.


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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:56 pm

They are on the side of the road, past the dam but before the wildlife inhibitor in the road. I'm fairly certain they're butternuts. I called them walnuts at first but they definitely have the butternut bark. It is Biltmore, so they could be exotics but I don't know what else they could be. I'll double check on my ID. Correction: I had 118.8' on one and NLT 126' on the other.

The hemlock grove with the 4 140's and dozens of 130's must have been on a slope which is now a clear cut. One 140' remains up top along with over a dozen over 110'. The grove is a pale shadow of its former self...but at least there is another parking lot. Much of the clearcut clearly didn't need to be cut. It's baffling why it was.

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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:15 pm


I recall black walnuts there but could be mistaken. They really look very different so it is hard to confuse if true black and butternut.

I remember the incredible hemlock grove was slated for "HWA management" (i.e kill the trees). I verbally petitioned the chief horticulturalist and arborist to treat them and even volunteered to do it if they bought the chemical but I guess the chippers won out. That single grove was poised to be the archetypal second-growth monitoring (height/volume) for the species. It also may have produced the tallest living hemlock in a few more decades with proper management. To me, it was the ultimate fruition of F.L. Olmsteds vision for a forest cathedral. Now it is an insult to his foresighted legacy.

Here is a shot from a few years ago
145 foot Biltmore hemlock.jpg

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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:58 am

It truly is a shame that those hemlocks were removed. That looks like a thriving forest! Some do remain but they're either along the roadside or up on drier land. Healthy hemlocks abound on the estate but I've only seen one high quality grove simlar to the one in the photo. The current grove doesn't hold any 140's though.

I'll check the nuts to make sure of walnut or butternut. I've confused them before.

Removing all of the large tuliptrees in front of the house is also an insult to Olmsted's legacy. The reasoning was that it was Olmsted's vision to have small, similarly sized trees. Yeah, I generally choose tuliptrees when I want small, uniform treescapes!? For all the wonderful trees they have and all the treatments they have done, they've also committed their share of blunders. I noticed one dead hemlock out of hundreds standing. They have put in the work but I agree that they have made some shortsighted moves as well.

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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:47 am

The trees in question are definitely black walnuts. They are quite tall as well. NLT 123' and NLT 129' !

The dawn redwoods are growing into their crowns. It was difficult to differentiate so these figures could be off by a few feet. When the leaves come down it should be easier to measure...and I'll get those spectacular black walnuts as well.

Metasequoia Glyptostroboides height Biltmore #

Biltmore grove #2 85.4' no#
86.3' 1880
87.5' 1879
95.1' 1874
112.5' 1881

Tsuga Caroliniana

Approach Rd. Grove#1 96.9' 4316
99.5' 4317
89.2' 1464
89.0' 297
93.0' 296
91.5' 298

Tsuga canadiensis 141.6' I didn't get a #. I drove right by a portion of this grove. It has a 143.6', a 141.6' and a 139'. Possibly more 140's to be found.

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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:22 pm

I spent some more time with the hemlock grove that contains the 143.6'. I'll call it the Underpass Grove, as it begins just after traveling under Route 40. I have a slightly adjusted height for that tree and the rest should all be new trees.

old current Biltmore#
143.6' 143.9' 168
113.7' 4388
127.9' 4389
126.6' 4383
134.1' 4384
144.2' 4386
123.8' 1341
112.3' 1342
108.0' 4225
127.4' no#
129.9' no#
136.1' 4214

There are yet more to be measured in the grove, which is flanked by tall white pines. I couldn't hit the tops of a couple next to the 144 footer.

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Re: Biltmore Estate Trees

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:33 am

Another update:

Two Ponds Grove

Tsuga canadiensis Eastern hemlock
123.5' 4034
128.6' 4029
127.3' 178
125.3' 177
125.9' 176
128.6' 4030
127.3' 4252
129.3' 4509
122.4' no#
130.3' no#
128.0' no#
140.0' no#

Metasequoia glyptostroboides Dawn redwood
I'd guess they're 8-12 years old.

Hill Grove
Metasequoia glypt. D redwood
missed one
I spotted these up the hill from the gardens. They appear to be the Sheridan spire variety, very lanky and very young.


Metasequoia glypt. D redwood
Cryptomeria japonica Japanese cedar
Cunninghamia lanceolata China-fir
Abies homolepis Nikko fir
Taxodium ascendens pond cypress

Walnut Grove
I had better shots at the dawn redwoods and the walnut crowns with the leaves off. There are two large walnut trees which I'd had at NLT 123' and NLT 129'. I trekked up the hill to get a good shot at their crowns but couldn't site the bottoms so I shot the tops and bottoms seperately and planned on adding them. When I got back down, I realized I'd confused my crown with another walnut. There were, in fact five walnuts in the grove. Since I wasn't certain exactly what I'd measured, it was back up the hill again.

Metasequoia Glypt. D redwood
108.8' 1874 formerly 95.1' open shot revealed true top.
110.4' no# formerly had 112.5'. May have hit walnut branch before.

Juglans nigra L to R in the grove
NLT128' I got 123.3' so I didn't hit the top

After the walnuts, I spied a few nice shortleaf pines. They weren't easy to reach. I had to go through, of all things, a hemlock hell. This was a welcome sight as there just aren't many of these in existence. They're regenerating profusely in this grove.

Pinus echinata shortleaf pine
I couldn't hit the bottoms and the tops at the same time and there's no good point of reference on the trunks. Still, these are the two tallest shortleafs I've found at Biltmore so far.

Nikko fir update
formerly 115.1' now 116.7' 4441


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