Subtly multi-stem

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Jess Riddle
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Subtly multi-stem

Post by Jess Riddle » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:44 pm


A few trees I recently measured have left me uncertain how to treat them for record purposes. They would all qualify for American Forest’s Register, and I’m sure people would nominate them to the single stem list even if singles and multi-stem trees were separated. What I’m interested in is how NTS should treat them. I’ve settled on my own conclusions, though not very stably in one case. I’m curious to hear how other people would treat them.

The first tree is a silver maple that I initially took for a single stem tree. After measuring it, I realized the tree was a coppice, but the smaller stem is almost surrounded by the main stem. I’m certain there is included bark all the way to the ground. The smaller stem now has little direct effect on the circumference; the tape only touches the smaller stem at one point, and the stem pushes the tape out just a little. The diameter changes maybe an inch. However, the indirect effect is greater. The main stem has spread out to envelop the smaller stem.
The second tree is an American elm that once had two stems and now has one. The smaller stem has died and fallen off. Now the tree has a bulge with a hole in the top of it that extends up to about five feet. Hence, the circumference includes the base of the second stem even though the second stem is gone.
Finally, a red bud that now has one stem, but once had one or two stems. The tree forked at about five and a half, but the second branch or stem is now gone. Below that height, the trunk has rotted making it difficult to determine how many piths there were at what height.
How would you treat the measurement of these trees? Do they qualify as site diameter records? Would they qualify as species diameter records?


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Matt Markworth
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Re: Subtly multi-stem

Post by Matt Markworth » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:15 pm


Interesting examples!

This may sound controversial, but when it comes to a tree where there is some evidence of multiple piths at ground level, then I feel it should be "guilty until proven innocent." I think there is more to be lost than gained when a questionable tree becomes part of the data set. Multi-trunk trees are still fine trees that should be revered just as much as any other, but dimensional outliers dilute the quality of data on growth potential.


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Will Blozan
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Re: Subtly multi-stem

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:33 am

Jess, NTS

Whether live, dead, or suspected the circumference is a conglomerate, even though the remaining tree may be single. It is the inflation of the circumference that is in question and should be measured where deemed representative. I personally would measure above the swelling where a normal taper began.


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Re: Subtly multi-stem

Post by Don » Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:24 am

I had just about posted a list of specific responses, when I saw Will's response. I agree with Will, that each of the three trees has anomalies addressed generally by AF/NTS measuring guidelines (burls, growths,etc.). Also worth noting was the nearly cylindrical boles above the anomalies that probably provide a good representation of what the bole could have been at breast height. If measured just above the swelling, would your three trees still have the dimensions to make them candidates?
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Re: Subtly multi-stem

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:14 am

I recently measured an incense cedar which Will had pointed out to me. It's much like your silver maple but even less consequential. It's difficult to tell if it was just a branch or if it was a second trunk. I've been on the fence about whether to count it as a single trunk or not. Unfortunately, the photos don't show that part of the tree.
incense cedar oakley1.jpg
incense cedar oakley2.jpg

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