Big Cottonwood, NC

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jamesrobertsmith
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Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:12 pm

I had heard that there was a very big cottonwood tree in a county park about 60 miles north of Charlotte. So I drove up there to see if it's true. The park is called Boone's Cave Park and was once a part of the North Carolina state park system. But the park's fate was based on it being the location of a home of Daniel Boone, but when there was nothing but circumstantial evidence that this was so, the state ceased to treat the property as a state park. In 2003 they finally sold the acreage to the county where it's located and it's now a county park.

I wanted to see the cave that is claimed was the temporary home of Boone, and I did that, but it wasn't the main reason I went. What I wanted to see what was billed by the county park service as the "tallest cottonwood in North Carolina". They claim that it's over 157 feet tall. My gut feeling is that it's not that tall, but I have no way of measuring it. It did seem to have lost part of its crown recently, but when I looked at the snag, which is still nearby, it didn't seem to me to have been higher than any of the limbs currently standing tall.

Still and all, it's an impressive tree. And I'm very glad that I got out to see it. The river was flooded, so I had to take an alternate route to reach the tree without having to get wet. The park supervisor had told me that the first route I wanted to take was probably so far underwater that trying it would have been dangerous. So I didn't even try. The other route was a little longer but a lot of fun.



Click on image to see its original size
Click on image to see its original size
Click on image to see its original size
Click on image to see its original size
Click on image to see its original size

RyanLeClair
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by RyanLeClair » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:32 pm

super impressive tree!

-Ryan

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by Larry Tucei » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:43 pm

JRS, Like Ryan said " super impressive tree". I'd guess 18' CBH but the height I'm not sure about. A very cool tree for sure and the Cave looks cozy. Only after you get the Bears or Lion out! Larry

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Will Blozan
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:48 pm

JRS,

Looks like a nice tree but 157+?????? I would like to measure this tree sometime and get a real number.

Will

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Bart Bouricius
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by Bart Bouricius » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:09 am

Nice Post, but it looks like this tree is suffering from foot on root disease. I suppose a lot of the folks looking for the cave trample the roots of this tree as well. Before I got involved in tree measurement, I would do tape drops for waterfalls, and invariably they were 20% to 50% shorter than advertised by park or private conservation organization literature. This is of course what happens when you use the unerringly precise eyeball measurement technique.

Bart

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by Steve Galehouse » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:50 pm

James, NTS-

That's a really nice cottonwood, but I would be surprised if it really is its advertised height---there don't seem to be many tall trees nearby for it to compete with, and I think competition from other trees would be needed for a cottonwood to get to 157'.

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:34 pm

No, there are not a lot of other big trees near this one. There aren't very many big trees at all in the vicinity. There were some decent oaks nearby but they've fallen over. Looks like a lot of the more mature trees on the ridge leading down to the cottonwood were lost in either a big windstorm or an ice storm. But there was nothing at all on the scale of the cottonwood. It would be really difficult to shoot with a rangefinder in there when the leaves finish budding out, I would think. The cottonwood is in bottomlands just above the Yadkin River.

Here was the lay of the land within a hundred yards or so of the cottonwood:



Click on image to see its original size

And about a half mile from the tree, this spring emerges from the side of a very steep hill leading up from the bottomlands.


Click on image to see its original size

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dbhguru
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Re: Big Cottonwood, NC

Post by dbhguru » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:06 pm

Robert, Steve, et al.,

The eastern cottonwood is probably one of the most mis-measured trees in terms of height. The crowns of big cottonwoods are often very wide and it isn't obvious where the top is. Using the dumbed-down approach of applying the tangent method, we've see extremely large height errors coming from folks we would otherwise consider to be competent professionals. Poor measurements are published and republished in sources that are supposed to be authoritative and we end up with the situation we now have. An amateur comes along and mis-measures a tree without suspecting it, and if challenged, can turn to the assumed authoritative sources to justify the offending measurement. Outsiders have no way of knowing or reason to suspect that large errors exist in authoritative appearing sources. Alas, it is the measuring world in which we live.

One reason that Will Blozan, Dale Luthringer, and I have pushed tree measuring workshops at Cook Forest and MTSF in recent years is to try to bring forestry professionals who certify tree measurements for champion tree lists into the inner circle of competent measurers. But it has proven a tough sell for a variety of reasons including misplaced pride, lack of interest, lack of time, and inadequate math skills on the part of potential attendees.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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