Yesterday Doug and Ellen Bidlack hosted an Atlantic white cedar hunt in southeastern Massachusetts, to which Andrew Joslin, his friend Asa, and I were cordially invited. We met in the morning, piled our bodies and gear into my car, and set off for Copicut Woods in Fall River.
I parked the car on Yellow Hill Road and we walked a short way into the woods to a nice stand of Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) in a swamp populated by red maple, pitch and white pines, yellow birch, and tupelo. With a sense of where the big cedar trees are, the Bidlacks led us to some spectacular trees. As a team we measured six of the largest. Here are their dimensions, from shortest to tallest:
6.61’ x 59’3”
6.04’ x 62’1”
6.67’ x 62’10”
6.36’ x 64’10”
5.84’ x 65’8”
6.71’ x 66’5” x 16’8.75” (average crown spread)
It just so happened that one individual was both the tallest and girthiest, so we measured its crown spread to be able to put it in the running for state champion. With the measurements from today this tree has 150.9 big tree points (80.52 + 66.42 + 4). It must be that once a tree has reached the threshold of 150 big tree points it begins to talk. This tree was making noises at us. Here are a few photos of this fine tree:
As we were returning to the car we stopped to admire a small patch of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Let me specify that it is the patch that is small, not the plants themselves. This is the biggest mountain laurel I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure! We measured the tallest stem at 0.76’ CBH x 19’1” tall! Below is the 19-ft mountain laurel, with red arrows pointing to the top and bottom of the plant.
After this successful tree hunt we returned to the car and took a lunch break on our way to the second site of the day, Acushnet Cedar Swamp. This property is over 1,000 acres, and if you don’t know where you’re going you can find yourself wandering aimlessly through thickets of brier. That’s kind of what we ended up doing. ☺ With the sun nearing the horizon, we returned to the car without having seen a single cedar tree! Fortuitously, we encountered a local on our way out and got the skinny on how to get to the Atlantic white cedars. You can expect a report on the trees of the Acushnet Cedar Swamp in the near future!
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