NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

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Rand
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NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by Rand » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:27 pm

Found a random blog that has a huge collection of historical anecdotes of douglas fir heights. The heights go up to an astounding 480 feet. Erhm...anyway, I think everyone would at least enjoy the wealth of historical pictures the author has collected:
Doerner Fir
Doerner Fir
http://rephaim23.wordpress.com/2012/11/ ... n-america/

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dbhguru
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NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by dbhguru » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:59 am

Rand, Kouta, et al.,

If we all cited anecdotal accounts that we've read of tall trees of yesteryear, I'd bet the BBS would ring with "Erhms" for fully the next 7 days. And now we have well-intentioned, but totally naive people interested in big tree superlatives adding to the deluge of goofy numbers via blogs, websites, etc.

One good source for sorting some of it out is Al Carder's Forest Giants of the World Past and Present. Carder casts doubt on some of the stretched accounts of tall trees, but accepts others uncritically. Here are some examples.

(1) He cites dimensions for the Reems Creek Poplar as 198 feet tall and breast high diameter of 11 feet. We have images of that tree and a second set of dimensions. The second numbers are 144 feet in height and 28 feet in girth. These latter numbers are more reasonable. Carder also states that:

Two other species are known to have produced specimens that have reached 200-foot height, Trees of Shumard oak, Quercus shumardii have been found which tower this high, and a sweetgum tree,Liquidambar stryraciflua, in South Carolina was this tall.

Carder goes on to state that bur oak reaches 180 feet in height as does the pecan tree. He further lists the multi-trunk sycamore in Jeromesville, Ohio as being 129 feet tall with a breast-height bole diamter of 15.3 feet. We all know what that tree complex looks like. Carder was simply quoting from the National Register of Big Trees. He discusses accounts of super white pines being measured to heights of up to 264 feet.

I could go on, but the point is that Al Carder is no lightweight. I regard him as highly professional and competent, but he, like most, is hostage to the mis-information that is out there on forest giants of the world - past and present. It makes our job ever more important. We must be the one source of truth in big tree numbers. On occasion, I've thought about proposing that we collectively undertake publishing an Internet book on big trees, with each of us choosing a species and developing a chapter on it. For example, I would volunteer to do a chapter on Pinus strobus. I expect that I have the most data and sources on that species. We could also collaborate. That might be the better way to spread the workload. Dale Luthringer and I could coauthor the chapter.

Kouta, Jeroen, and Michael Spraggon could coauthor a chapter on the Norway spruce. It would be a spectacular chapter, I have no doubt. Obviously Live Oak Larry would handle the southern live oak. Will, Michael Davie, and maybe Jess Riddle could handle the tuliptree.Obviously Will and Jes would handle the eastern hemlock. Maybe we could talk Don Bertolette, Michael Taylor, Mario Vaden, Eli Dickerson, Brian Behdun, Doug Bidlack, George Fieo, Rand Brown, Steve Galehouse, Bart Bouricius, and others to join in with species of their choice. The brain trust that we have available for such a project is not to be dismissed. The book project could take as long as needed. As an Internet product, Ed Frank would need to figure out how to put it together, plus do a species or two himself, if he wished. Ed might handle silver maple, as an example. Others of us would be available to help. In fact, we'd all act as a pool to assist those responsible for particular species. For example, I have lots of data on how Liriodendron tulipifera expresses itself in its northeastern limits, which I'd provide to Will, Michael, and Jess, or whomever.

The problem we now have is that our efforts are far too scattered to have maximum impact. Researchers need to be able to turn to a single source to sort out all the anecdotal account and mis-measured trees in the champion tree programs from credible historical sources and what we have collected today in NTS. We could start small. I'd be willing to kick off the effort for the white pine woking with Ed on format.

If this is a goofy idea, please don't hesitate to say so.

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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Rand
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Re: NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by Rand » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:00 pm

KoutaR wrote:
Rand wrote:The heights go up to an astounding 480 feet.
Then Douglas-fir is historically the second tallest: The highest claim for Eucalyptus regnans was 500 ft. Erhm...

Kouta
Well.. The next time I pace off a fallen tree I'll be sure to take smaller steps...;)

dbhguru wrote:Rand, Kouta, et al.,
If we all cited anecdotal accounts that we've read of tall trees of yesteryear, I'd bet the BBS would ring with "Erhms" for fully the next 7 days.
Yeah, I figured that would provoke no small amount of eye-rolling, and I figured maybe someone from here could break it to the guy gently how unreliable those things tend to be.

Another thing I found interesting in browsing through the account is that some of the best purported sites (alluvial flats) are pushing up cities these days. :/

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DougBidlack
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Re: NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by DougBidlack » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:36 pm

Bob,

I love your idea of an internet book! Maybe it would be best to set a rather high height requirement for any tree to get into this book...say 100 feet. Even better, how about 30 meters since it would be international and cover at least North America north of Mexico and Europe. Setting such a high height requirement would dramatically decrease the number of species and make it much more likely to finish in a more timely manner. Later editions could expand the height requirement downward by 5m or so each time.

Doug

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dbhguru
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Re: NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by dbhguru » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:39 pm

Doug,

Actually, I had the idea of a minimum height threshold in mind. I just didn't express it in the post. So, we're on the same page to use that much over-used phrase. What species might you be willing to take prime responsibility for either solely or with a partner(s)? Since you have strong Michigan roots, would red pine interest you? Just throwing it out. You can select any species you want, but south for the 43rd parallel, red pine does next to nothing as a natural species. Then there is hackberry. Choices, choices.

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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DougBidlack
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Re: NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by DougBidlack » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:04 pm

Bob,

glad were on the same page! Red pine sounds great to me. I'm currently working on Atlantic white-cedar and I'll soon make a couple posts on that species. I think that we'll each need to tackle more than one species and in many cases several people will want to work on a particular iconic species or one that has a particularly large distribution. I think that's all good.

Doug

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dbhguru
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Re: NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

Post by dbhguru » Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:45 pm

Doug,

Agreed. I hope Ed, Will, and others will weigh in. It would be a very good application of our collective talents.

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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Will Blozan
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by Will Blozan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:49 pm

NTS,

Great idea Bob! I would definitely take on some species that I am personally familiar with or working with. For starters I would volunteer for ten (and work with others of course) I have listed more than ten below- it is hard to draw the line!

Tsuga canadensis
Tsuga caroliniana
Halesia tetratera
Liriodendron tulipifera
Amelanchier laevis
Oxydendrum arboreum
Celtis laevigata
Pinus taeda
Pinus virginiana
Ilex opaca
Picea rubens
Quercus rubra
Quercus montana
Quercus coccinea

As for the 30 meter cut off it does exclude many species but it could be a great start to work things out. Still 30 m would include an immense number of tree species worldwide. Maybe a higher cut-off- 40 meters? I am all for equality in the species and a superlative dogwood is just as exciting as a hemlock.

Let's keep discussing...

Will

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dbhguru
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by dbhguru » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:57 pm

Will, Doug, Ed, Rand, Kouta, et al.,

Wow, Will, that is quite a list. For the first effort we could include only the species that produce fairly large trees. Perhaps the criteria of: (1) achieves a height of at least 40 meters, or (2) reaches a breast-high diameter of at least 1.5 meters for eastern species This would narrow the list to something manageable. In addition, if we're going to present analyses of accounts of past giants, I'd think that we'd be looking at species that have been showcased by past chroniclers. There are plenty of huge West Coast species that could be included. We might have higher thresholds for the initial list. From my perspective, a key feature of each species would be an analysis of the historical accounts and what we regard as the maximum size we think a species can reach. Just my musing at this point. Others may have a better approach.

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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DougBidlack
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by DougBidlack » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:37 pm

NTS,

OK, so maybe a 40m height and 1.5m diameter would be best for a world list. I prefer girth to diameter. It has already been well argued that we are actually measuring girth and not diameter so it seems to me that that is what we should be recording. How about a girth of 5m instead of a diameter of 1.5m? It's only a little bit larger. Even with this cutoff it will be unrealistic to think that we will measure all the tropical species in a timely manner. There are simply too many tropical species in too large an area with too little manpower. This is simple reality but it doesn't mean that we can't begin such a list now.

We could begin one world list with the above criteria or something similar and then begin several more regional lists, such as eastern North America, with less stringent criteria.

I like the idea of eventually addressing historical accounts. However, I think we should begin from a solid foundation by sticking to measuring what we can actually measure today. I think trying to address questions that cannot be reliably addressed today can get us involved in arguments that we cannot win and this will hurt our credibility. We cannot be challenged on actual measurements of actual trees.

If I could choose trees to measure for the 40/1.5 or 40/5 criteria, these are the ones that I would choose first.
Pinus resinosa
Quercus alba
Quercus bicolor
Quercus macrocarpa

Additional floodplain species of great interest:
Celtis occidentalis
Gleditsia triacanthos
Gymnocladus dioicus
Juglans nigra

Some potential northern species:
Picea glauca
Thuja occidentalis
and perhaps also Populus balsamifera and Populus grandidentata

Naturally, I'd like to help with other species as well.

Maybe we could organize some meetings in the future specifically to quickly measure many tree species in hotspots. Wouldn't that be fun?

Doug

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