Mountains-to-Sea Trail

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bbeduhn
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:55 am

The Ramble Grove

I revisited an area that was one of my very first forest measurements in 2011. It's pretty amazing how differently I look at trees in comparison to three years ago. Only the tallest ones stood out then. Now, I pay just about as much attention to understory trees. The sourwoods and scarlet oaks struck me when I hikes this trail amonth ago so I focused on them. The white oaks were on flat ground. The tallest white oaks I've found have been in coves, sometimes near the bottom and sometimes near the top but they tend to grow taller in coves. The tallest white pine hadn't been measured before. It may or may not be the tallest in the grove. I got 144' on a different tree three years ago but didn't find that tree this time.

Quercus alba 115.7' 115.2' 113.5' 113.3'

Quercus coccinea 121.6' 116.5' 111.7'

Oxydendrum arboreum 89.8' 82.1' 78.8' 78.4' 76.9' 76.5'

Pinus echinata 110.5'

Pinus rigida 117.5' 109.5' 109.3' 108.3' 124.8' (last year)

Pinus strobus 147.3' 136.8' 136.5' 136.2' 136.2' 135.7'

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bbeduhn
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:48 am

I had planned on measuring some red spruce up around Mount Mitchell, but when I got up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the gates were closed. I figured on a hike to the old Rattlesnake Lodge site to do some measuring instead. It has some quality white oaks and tulips. I never made it to that site as I was distracted by a cove just below the Parkway. There was some obvious height in the canopy but the bigger surprise was the girths on sporadic trees. The first trees I checked out were side by side tulips, one being 12'9" and the other about 4' cbh. I'm not sure which one is older. One is fairly vibrant and the other is severely stunted with very smooth bark. Many of the red hickories at this site have the same characteristics. They are stunted with many epicormic branches, which I never see on reds. I see it frequently on black oaks.

Soon I encountered some larger girthed tulips. They looked stout but not that extraordinary at first, but after approaching them I noticed these were the real deal. I've seen a handful of 12' cbh tulips in Buncombe County but not all that many. They get enormous in the Nantahala Nat'l Forest but rarely so in Pisgah Nat'l Forest, despite the largest ever known single trunk tulip having been found just a few miles away at about 28'. Sadly, it is no longer around.

This is an attachment from the best tulip site in Pisgah forest:
Laurel_Knob.pdf
(1.24 MiB) Downloaded 136 times
There were two trails that ran through the cove. I followed one until a "no trespassing" sign. The other was an old road bed. Coincidentally,
I happened to view some art of an old friend of Rachel at a house just below where I measured the very next day. She and her husband just happened to own the land on which the old road bed lay. It turns out that it was built with slave labor in the 1850's and was the primary route over Bull Gap for many years. It intersected with the road up to Rattlesnake Lodge, which is now incorporated into the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The owner was very much aware of the large trees just off his property.

The site is thoroughly dominated by tulips for the most part. One spot has white and black oak codominance and another has chestnut oak dominance. It is not particularly rich. The tulips are tallest on the steeper parts but it's not all that steep. Down below, where it flattens a bit, more species are present but they are not of extraordinary size. It is strange that a fair number of these tulips survived logging, especially since there is a road nearby. The amount of old growth trees is very surprising. Red oak and chestnut oak also appear to be in the 150 year old range right next to the road. The walnut is right along the road as well. There is also another huge tree on private land near the house I visited. I don't know what species it is as I didn't have permission to get close. It appeared to be something other than a tulip.

Now for the numbers:

Betula lenta black birch 103.2' 84.3' 82.0'

Robinia pseudoacacia black locust 107.5'

Prunus serotina black cherry 122.6'

Acer rubrum red maple 107.8'

Carya cordiformis bitternut hickory 102.4'

Carya alba mockernut hickory 99.5'

Carya ovalis red hickory 126.6' 114'

Juglans nigra black walnut 92.3' 8'5"cbh

Fraxinus biltmoreana Bilmore ash 121.3' 116.0'

Quercus montana chestnut oak 112.0' 108.9' 107.6' 105.2'

Quercus rubra red oak 124.2' 124.1' 122.6' 116.0' 115.3' 115.1'

Quercus alba white oak 122.0' 119.1' 118.3' 116.8' 113.3' 111.7' 111.5' 110.7'

Quercus velotina black oak 131.4' 127.0' 122.7' 121.2' 120.6'

Liriodendron tulipifera tuliptree 157.2' 156.5' 155.2' 153.5' 153.4' 149.5' 148.4' 148.2' 147.2'
146.8' 146.5' 145.6' 144.8' 144.3' 143.0' 142.4' 142.7' 141.9'
141.8' 140.5' 140.4'

13'9" 129.7' 14'6" 144.3' 15'9" 127.6' 18'5" 109.6'

Rucker 10 = 123.26'

I had previously found just about a half dozen 140's in the county. This site had at least 21. As far as I know, the 157.2' is the tallest tulip and second tallest tree in the county. The black oaks are the most impressive however. 120's are a tough find anywhere. 5 on one site and a 131' is a solid find. Other species aren't so impressive. Only one tall red hickoey exists out of many onsite. There is almost no understory growth save for somer prickers of some sort. The forest is very open with no rhododendron or laurel and very few understory trees.

Now for the pics:
Two old tulips.  Which is older?
Two old tulips. Which is older?
8'5" cbh walnut
8'5" cbh walnut
8'5" walnut crown  92.3'
8'5" walnut crown 92.3'
13'9" tulip
13'9" tulip
13'9" tulip 129.7'
13'9" tulip 129.7'
15'9" tulip
15'9" tulip
15'9" tulip  127.6'
15'9" tulip 127.6'
18'5" tulip
18'5" tulip
18'5" tulip 109.6'
18'5" tulip 109.6'
157.2' tulip, in center, top visible.
157.2' tulip, in center, top visible.

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dbhguru
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by dbhguru » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:31 am

Brian,

Excellent report. Thanks. I grabbed those 3 black birch measurements and into the database they went. We're up to a total of 359 birches.

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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Ranger Dan
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by Ranger Dan » Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:28 am

Thank you for the continued reports on this wonderful area that so deserves special protection.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:24 pm

I went back to Bull Gap because I forgot to take a picture of one of the large tulips and got permission to go onto some private land as well. I didn't find too much on the private land but did find find some more decent red hickories and a decent white oak.

Lirio tulip 140.7'
Carya ovalis 123.2' 122.6'
Quercus alba 121.9'
Quercus montana 108.0' 108.3'
Quercus rubra 116.1'
Plat occid 106.6' upland
Oxyden arbor 80.4'

I'm finding trends in the heights of sourwoods in the Southern appalachians. 60's are very common. 70's are fairly common. 80's are uncommon. 85' seems to be a threshold. Very few top 85'. They are scarce above 85' and become rare at about 95'. Beyond 95', sourwoods are exceptional. Beyond 100', they are superlative.
14'6" tulip
14'6" tulip
14'6" 144.3'
14'6" 144.3'

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dbhguru
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by dbhguru » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:39 pm

Brian,

This is where we in NTS take off and leave all others behind. Knowing the height distribution of a species is a HUGE jump from the sources that cite a figure or two, with not the slightest bit of personal familiarity or expertise. Does your observation on sourwood cover a large geographical area or a small one?

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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bbeduhn
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:04 pm

Bob,
Two species I've really concentrated on are VA pine and sourwood. I've measured hundreds of each on dry slopes, coves along rivers, floodplains, flat and steep forests. They both do extremely well on well drained slopes. Sourwoods frequently hit 70'+ where upper story trees hit 80-90'. They occasionally reach canopy height. The best I've seen sourwoods grow is along the Chattooga River. It's rich there and they achieve both great height (102') and great girth. In general, they seem to do better in well drained upland forests. There is less competition from other trees compared to rich sites and they just seem happy growing in less than ideal soils, just like black oaks, chestnut oaks and scarlet oaks. Sourwood and these oaks may attain their greatest size on poorer sites but each does better consistently in such soils. I haven't done much sourwood measuring in the Smokies but I assume the record holder (at least 111' at last measurement) is in a rich site. Va pine does exceedingly well where other trees do not like to grow. Its greatest size also occurs in richer areas but is generally absent from such areas. lLurel Fork in the Jocassee Gorges harbors the tallest VA pine (127') and sports numerous 100'+ and 90'+ individuals.
Brian

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Will Blozan
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:46 pm

Brian,

The great alluvial fans and associated slopes of the NE TN Smokies supports superlative sourwood. It is really not too hard to break 100' in the mature second-growth but a sharply defined ceiling is quickly encountered. 105 footers can be readily located in the right spot (I hit four on one recent trip in less than an hour) but 110' is elusive except for a single tree (111' in NC).

In the old-growth of course they get huge. 7-10 foot girth trees usually in the 90's for height when intact. Fatties can be found all over in old-growth acidic forests but the TN side seems to have taller specimens in general, especially in second-growth.

Will
Attachments
OXAR- Giant on Gabes Creek trunk.jpg

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Will Blozan
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:46 pm

Brian,

The great alluvial fans and associated slopes of the NE TN Smokies supports superlative sourwood. It is really not too hard to break 100' in the mature second-growth but a sharply defined ceiling is quickly encountered. 105 footers can be readily located in the right spot (I hit four on one recent trip in less than an hour) but 110' is elusive except for a single tree (111' in NC).

In the old-growth of course they get huge. 7-10 foot girth trees usually in the 90's for height when intact. Fatties can be found all over in old-growth acidic forests but the TN side seems to have taller specimens in general, especially in second-growth.

Will
Attachments
OXAR- Giant on Gabes Creek trunk.jpg

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:32 pm

I need to go back to Mackey Mountain. I didn't find the largest poplar there, although I did find some wonderful old trees bushwhacking through there. I think I'll have a better time of it in cooler weather. Last time in the stinging nettles drove me bats, and I managed to get poison ivy all over my left calf.

http://tilthelasthemlockdies.blogspot.c ... ories.html

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