Today John Berryhill, Smith College's principal arborist, climbed a white pine on the campus. The climb would ordinarily not be especially noteworthy, except that this pine is the tree height champ for the Massachusetts part of the Connecticut River Valley. While I remeasured the champ using Sparky, my faithful TruPulse 200X, my friend Ray Asselin filmed the event. Hopefully he'll have a video for us. Ray's photography is outstanding. Let's have a look at our champ.
The pine is in the center of the above image - the one that leans to the left. Two walkers are on the trail to the left of the pine. You can see Ray's camera in the trail well in front of the pine. The pine to the right starts off straight and then bends slightly to the right. It is 135.7 feet tall. It looks taller because it is closer and bends toward me as well as to the right, while the taller one bends slightly away from me as well as to the left. Ray himself stands in front of the 135.7-footer. Next time, we're going to put him in a bright orange suit for visibility.
Based on an exhaustive set of measurements, I settled on 144.5 feet for the champ's height based on a sprig that I had not previously measured accurately. The sprig is located farther into the crown and at a lower angle. It is rather inconspicuous. I just missed it. The champ's gain in height from the previous measurement is 1.5 feet. Sweet!
The height champ is going to be entered into the Smith College Living Collections database and tracked accordingly. We think its age is approximately 175 years, meaning that is started growing in 1842. Smith dates to 1875. Our champ is one of 9 pines growing in an area that probably started as a stand. And behind the two pines is a black birch that I measured to 102.5 feet. Super sweet.
BTW, Smith College is part of the Tree Campus USA program and its arboretum is pretty impressive. The arboretum sports 4 and potentially 5 state champions. I close by saying that I feel very privileged to be on the Smith College Tree Committee. Super super sweet.
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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