NTS Book Project on Big Trees of the World

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edfrank
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by edfrank » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:59 pm

We should compile a list of trees with misrepresented heights and work from there, rather than just pick trees that get big that are rarely mentioned and building a list based on just that they grow big. Another good beginning would be Colby Rucker's article on great trees of the past and present here: http://www.nativetreesociety.org/bullet ... v03_04.pdf It really should not be some arbitrary height or girth requirement, just a species that has frequently been misreported.

One species that deserves some consideration is American Chestnut, which we have discussed widely here before. But we should go with whatever the group as a whole want to do.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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KoutaR
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by KoutaR » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:03 am

dbhguru wrote:Kouta, Jeroen, and Michael Spraggon could coauthor a chapter on the Norway spruce.
I am in. Good idea!

If this was to be an international project and not just US + Norway spruce, it would be important to get as many non-US writers as possible. In every case, the result will be only a very small selection of the world's tree species as we have no reliable data for the majority of the land surface. Bart has some data for Latin America. Matt could write about some NZ tree species. Brett Mifsud just wrote his first message here (I hope it was not the last one). If somebody doesn't know who he is: according to Stephen Sillett's site (http://www.humboldt.edu/redwoods/sillet ... rators.php) he has found and measured nearly all of the tallest known flowering trees over 80 m on Earth. He also climbed the tall trees in Borneo with Roman Dial. I must say that I was a bit surprised as his first message did not raise any comments. Then we have Darrin in Peninsular Malaysia. Unfortunately, he does not yet measure tree heights, maybe we together could buy a Nikon 550 for him...

If there was to be height / girth limit, it should be different for different regions. 40 m is good for the eastern US and Europe but too low for western US.

Ed's suggestion is good, too. Concentrating on mismeasured/misinterpreted species gives to the book a real mission. But I think we have not enough data to discuss European trees in that context. Abies alba could be one such species, but we have not enough data to say it for sure.

Kouta

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dbhguru
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by dbhguru » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:53 am

Ed,

Thanks for posting the link to this best of all issues of the Bulletin. Colby was the best of the best. I look at his compilation of big trees past and present and realize what a service he provided us.

NTS,

Here is an excerpt from the bulletin. It is Colby's write-up on the Virginia Bedford Poplar.
BedforPoplar.jpg
This tree is one of those that Will and I used early on to point to significantly mis-measured trees. The height of 146 feet listed in the National Register was exaggerated by at least 35 feet. Measurements of 110 and 111 feet were obtained by Will and I. Colby himself measured a white oak that had its height mis-measured by others by a full 50 feet. We have periodically discussed significantly mis-measured trees to include the pignut hickory in Robbinsville, NC, the red maple in Michigan, the tuliptree in Winterthur, and many others. I once received word of a 175-foot white pine in Shelburne, MA. Jack Sobon and I measured it to 137 feet. That same tree had been originally quoted as being 225 feet in height. I won't get into who made the claim, but it was made.

In my original post on this topic, I felt the time had come for us to re-address the issue of what these species can do and what we believe they may have achieved in the past. I appreciate the expression of interest that has followed. Please, let's continue exploring the subject. I do realize that we have to tread lightly in dealing with other people's measurements. But if our numbers are going to be accepted as the gold standard, an electronic book would be a not only a convenient vehicle for our measurements, but also for presenting an unemotional analysis of some of the past big tree claims that can't be substantiated.

This is presented as food for thought. As a minimum, I hope we can move forward and put together a guide to tree maximums in today's forests and where they occur with some analysis of anecdotal accounts of the past.

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 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:20 pm

Ed,

I guess I was just thinking of how I like to solve a problem in my last post. For me to accomplish anything I need to focus on tall/big trees first and then work down. Maybe some of us can work on measuring tall/big trees, others can work on historical and current mis-measured trees and others can do both. I'm sure there will be strong overlap since I feel that the larger the tree the more likely it is to be mis-measured.


Kouta,

glad you're in! Not that I'm surprised or anything. You guys have quite a few more species than just Norway spruce to think about! As for the 40m limit I wonder if it is really true that 40m is too low for the western US. I suspect it is not. Perhaps Michael Taylor or someone else can weigh in here. I'm not sure but I am guessing that the number of 40m species in the east may rival the number of 40m species in the west. Am I way off base here?

Another thing that we should consider if we will be dealing with girth/CBH and that is the different height at which this measurement is made in various countries. We should either come up with an International standard or make several measurements. I favor an International standard.

Doug

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edfrank
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by edfrank » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:56 pm

Doug,

I don't think we can just chose among various girth measurement heights as many are well established around the world. In general they range fro 1.3 meters (4 feet 3-3/16 inches) to 1.5 meter ( 4 feet 11-1/16 inches) with 4.5 feet somewhere in the middle. For most trees if this is above the basal flair, the difference in where the girth measurement is taken of +/- 4 inches isn't going to make a significant difference. If it is within the basal flair, there will be a difference, but these numbers will not be representative of the girth of the tree bole above the flair anyway, and I think they are still produce comparable measurements.
4 feet 11 1/16 inches = 1.5 meters (UK - high side) http://www.treeregister.org/measuringtrees.shtml

4 feet 7 1/8 inches = 1.4 meters (Australia, NZ) http://www.nationalregisterofbigtrees.c ... rement.php http://www.notabletrees.org.nz/pages/14-10/Tree-Girth

4.5 (American Forests, NTS) http://www.americanforests.org/bigtrees ... uidelines/ http://www.nativetreesociety.org/measur ... vised1.pdf

4 feet 3/3/16 inches = 1.3 m in most European countries

Monumental trees: In most European countries girth is measured at breast height, which is 1.3 m above the ground (Circumference at Breast Height – or CBH in short). Some instructions (like those of the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI)) ask to measure above the highest ground point around the trunk when the ground is not entirely flat.
For this website (Monumental Trees (MT)) we propose to measure the CBH like most American tree measurers (for example the Native Tree Society (NTS)): at 1.30 m above the average ground level. The aim is to measure at the height where the tree germinated or sprouted or was planted as a small tree, so at the centre of the trunk. See instructions below. In the UK and Belgium girth is measured at 1.5 m (5 feet). A 1.3 m stick is useful to stand upright next to a tree for accuracy and handy to gain access trough bracken or nettles! Make sure the tape is level; if the tree leans ensure the tape is perpendicular to the trunk. http://www.monumentaltrees.com/en/conte ... ringgirth/
Ideally you are right that it would be good for everyone to be measuring at the same height, but as a practical matter I don't think it is workable, and will not be that big of a deal. As for how the projects shapes up, it should be based upon the overall consensus of the participants. I just suggested a different approach to the overall concept.

Edward Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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KoutaR
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by KoutaR » Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:54 pm

DougBidlack wrote:I'm not sure but I am guessing that the number of 40m species in the east may rival the number of 40m species in the west.
That's an interesting question! I did a quick research and it seems that you may be right. (There are much more competent members to answer but I love to do this like research!) I did not recognize how diverse the tall tree flora of the eastern US is: my version of the NTS Max List has 52 species more than 40 m tall !

California has 31 conifers >40m. At least 8 western broadleaf trees >40m have been reported on the NTS-BBS. Add Populus balsamifera, Larix occidentalis and Picea pungens, and we are at 42. Probably there are still others, maybe Quercus besides Q. lobata, a Platanus besides P. racemosa, conifers... We may arrive quite close to 52.

About girths: If the goal of the project is to do something new, girths and thick (but low) trees are perhaps not so important. CBH is relatively easy to measure and there are already plenty of books and websites concentrating on thick trees. Concentrating on tall trees would also further limit tree species number.

Kouta

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dbhguru
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by dbhguru » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:56 pm

Kouta,

An international effort would be awesome. Truly awesome. When I mentioned Norway spruce, I was hoping you or one of the other European Super Ents would carry the idea further. We're in sync.

Doug,

Your point is well taken. We may need to pursue a two track approach. For the huge trees that have held the attention of the many over the decades, I'd think we'd want to deal with what we know today, but also visit the historical accounts to set the record straight on what we know for sure, what may be true, and what is probably not true. At a minimum, it would make for very interesting reading, and we know questions will arise in the minds of readers who have read the anecdotal accounts of past giants. However, where old data are not available, we'd stick with what is available today.

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

In terms of thresholds or cutoffs, I think we need to start off with values that make sense of the geographical region and the species. It could become a little arbitrary, but we can refine as we go along. I've emailed Michael Taylor to get him to weigh in on this discussion. The important point is to get started. Those listed below agreeing, what do you think about startingg with something like the following? It is presented strictly to move the ball forward.

Primary author Species

Bob Leverett Pinus strobus, Populus deltoides
Will Blozan Liriodendron tulipifera, Tusga canadensis
Doug Bidlack Pinus resinosa
Kouta Rasanen Picea abies, Abies alba
Michael Spraggon Quercus robur
Larry Tucei Taxodium distichum, Quercus virginiana
Michael Taylor Sequoia sempervirens, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Mario Vaden Whatever he wants
Rand Brown Platanus occidentalis
Ed Frank Acer saccharinum
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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dbhguru
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by dbhguru » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:36 pm

Kouta,

An international effort would be awesome. When I mentioned Norway spruce, I was hoping you or one of the other European Super Ents would carry the idea further. We're in sync.

Doug,

Your point is well taken. We may need to pursue a two track approach. For the huge trees that have held the attention of the many over the decades, I'd think we'd want to deal with what we know today, but also visit the historical accounts to set the record straight on what we know for sure, what may be true, and what is probably not true. At a minimum, it would make for very interesting reading, and we know questions will arise in the minds of readers who have read the anecdotal accounts of past giants. However, where old data are not available, we'd stick with what is available today.

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

In terms of thresholds/cutoffs, upon thinking about it, we need to start off with values that make sense of the geographical region and the species. It could become a little arbitrary, but we can refine as we go along. I've emailed Michael Taylor to get him to weigh in on this discussion. His participation is indispensable.

The important point is to get started. Those listed below agreeing, what do you all think about something like the following? It is presented strictly to move the ball forward.

Primary author Species

Bob Leverett Pinus strobus, Populus deltoides, Fraxinus americana
Will Blozan Liriodendron tulipifera, Tusga canadensis, Pinus taeda
Doug Bidlack Pinus resinosa, Quercus macrocarpa, Quercus alba
Kouta Rasanen Picea abies, Abies alba , Quercus robur

I've kept the initial list to three apiece, however, each can take on more. I'm just afraid that if we don't set realistic goals, we will take forever to produce anything concrete.

I presume Larry will agree to cover Quercus virginiana. Can't imagine anyone else doing it. I presume Jess Riddle will join the list and cover several species. I don't want to appear presumptuous and list names of people who haven't committed.

In the eastern U.S.,Taxodium distichum, Platanus occidentalis, Acer saccharinum (Ed?), and Ulmus americana are frequently cited in big tree literature. They need to be covered.

If Michael Taylor soon joins the discussion, l assume he, Mario Vaden, Don Bertolette, and possibly Zane Moore, will sort things out for the West Coast species. Hopefully, Bart will cover Ceiba pentandra and related species. Then, if our friends from Down Under come aboard for the great species for Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, we'll really be rolling.

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 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:01 pm

Ed,

you are right that we have a problem no matter what we decide for girth. If we keep making measurements at different heights we will be able to compare our measurements to the past within our own countries but we will not be able to compare our measurements over space...and vice versa. You are also right that the differences are probably fairly small. Unfortunately for me I'm quite anal and this bothers me to no end. I can't tolerate even small differences. I could also argue that if the differences are indeed small, then why does it matter if we all accept one standard? The bottom line is that I am not traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to measure trees without resolving this issue. I may just measure at all the heights! Even if we decide to only concentrate on heights as Kouta suggests, will we just ignore measuring the girth? I don't think so. Perhaps we could make a tentative decision on an International standard and then always measure at the International standard as well as the standard for the country that we happen to be in at the time. That's only two simple measurements and we can make comparisons over space and time. This brings me to the third measurement that we almost never make: crown spread. It would sure be nice if we tried to measure average crown spread for each of these superlative trees. What does everyone else think? If we make this measurement how will we make it?


Kouta,

I'm sure glad you took a quick stab at the number of eastern US vs western US 40m trees! It makes me feel like I wasn't a complete idiot.


Bob,

I'm all up for the three species you have down for me. I'm still super interested in swamp white oak though because I've spent so much time tracking down nearly every state champion and I've planted several from seed. I'm also really hoping that we keep this ball rolling!

Doug

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dbhguru
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Re: Historical Douglas Fir heights

Post by dbhguru » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:24 pm

Doug,

I'm with you on crown spread. Here is one way to think about measuring crown spread that can be done by one individual. Since there is no minimum number of radial arms required, the method can be adapted to all kinds of forms.
JoanMaloofCrown Spread MeasurementDiagram-3.jpg
I can't see how we could do justice to the topic unless we include crown spread, especially for several species of oak, American sycamore, and American elm. People relate to species like the live oak more through crown spread than any other dimension.

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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