Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

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Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by Treedom » Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:51 am

Greetings to fellow tree hunters.

I have joined this discussion with a love for trees, poetry, and also a tree to share. My father has always had a love for trees. His late uncle owned over one-hundred acres in north Ironwood, where he used to teach my dad the different species when he was young. My mother's dad had a favorite poem he would receit, and of course, it is the poem "TREES", by Joyce Kilmer. I kept his framed copy of this poem, and a friend who went through a hard time with an addiction, drew a picture of a tree for me, and I've inserted it in the frame.

One day, on a sunday afternoon, a friend introduced me to the largest tree I have ever seen in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.The tree is actually in town, nessled in a grove of pines. The tree is known about, but as I understand it is not registered. I hope that in the creation of this post, it will become that. I visited the tree yesterday, which was Sunday December 20th, 2015. I brought my father along and he snapped some photos of me next to this significant tree.

We believe it to be a German Poplar. I am not an expert so I will start with what I can tell you. The pines around it are tall and spindly, and it towers above them from afar off. My only measuring apparatus was my arm lengths, and at 70" I went around it four times plus four feet. We tried to get a photo of my arm spread in front, but as you know in photography, the tree shrunk significantly due to camera angles. The tree has two smaller of the same species near it, and with my rustic measuring system, they would be circumferences of 26'-27+', 13+', and 10'.

Here is my tribute to the famous poem, and the reminiscent picture in honor of my grandpa, and the big tree in Ironwood, MI.

Monday, June 9, 2014
To Be A Tree

When I was young I saw the stars

As I stared from my mother's arms.

I felt the majesty of height,

And the fury of windy night.

Which blew me from my leafy bed,

To the ground so cold.

No longer held, I clung unto

The gritty dirt below,

And stretched a twig up at the sky

Towards the glory I once knew.

The rain splashed down,

And sun peaked through,

And after that the snow.

This wiry little sapling sprawled,

The heavy burden on me now..

But spring did come and summer too.

Soon another winter I'd seen through.

Until a tall but spindly fellow

With leafy head did crest,

High above the muddy trail

Peering the heavens with the rest.

Time did place her ring on me,

Every year she married me.

Until I grew fat from earthy grub

And my strong limbs were stretched.

My own little seedlings I have now.

They dance in the breeze above my brow.

For now, we together gaze stars above.

As I cradle fragile nests of love.

But soon the wind will shake them free,

To try their hand…

To be a tree. ~joel

Photo on 12-21-15 at 1.50 AM (2).jpg
Photo on 12-21-15 at 1.50 AM (2).jpg (51.17 KiB) Viewed 1328 times
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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:52 am

Beautiful tree! I would suggest that the species is our native Eastern Cottonwood. Perhaps by "german poplar" you mean Black Poplar, a european species that is very similar to our Eastern Cottonwood, but not often found here in the US, especially not at such a great size in an area of the US that was settled so recently (relatively speaking). Cottonwoods are one of the few eastern species to attain such girth, and those that do are few and far between- congratulations.

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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:42 am

In western North Carolina, The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is dedicated to Mr. Kilmer. It is an old growth area with enormous tulips and formerly, enormous hemlocks. The Joyce Kilmer Wilderness surrounds part of the Memorial Forest. It has extensive old growth as well. The area was saved when the Santeetla Dam was built. It was slated to have been logged but the dam made it difficult to access the area.

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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by dbhguru » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:48 am

Tom, Erik,

I am inclined to agree with you, Erik. It is likely eastern cottonwood. It is one of the very few eastern species that can achieve such sizes at the latitudes as far north as Ironwood, MI (46 deg 27 min).

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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John Harvey
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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by John Harvey » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:39 pm

There is nothing quite like having you own special big tree close to home. Mine was a massive tulip tree near my family's homestead. I agree a Cottonwood and a very special one at that. Nice bit of writing as well.
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by Treedom » Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:55 pm

Wow I thank all of you for your response to my post and especially for the information! Eric Danielson, perhaps that is what the tree is. I will take better pictures of the tree and share them. I just wanted to get something started on this tree, and it is great to look into Eastern cottonwood as a possible species.

bbeduhn, thank you for sharing about the Joyce Kilmer Memorial forest! I didn't even know of such a thing. I actually have aquaintences in SC, so this is now a possible future adventure for me.

Bob thank you for the input on the likelyhood of species. I have known of this tree for less than two years, I plan to post coordinates to the actual tree itself. I also want to do better photography, and will include the surrounding trees.

John thank you, and yes the tree is special. What makes this tree more special is it is inline with the mining operations that existed here. During that time, the whole area was clear-cut through the iron range, and this tree had to have sprung up from a sapling since the cutting, I would speculate.

A cottonwood this size, any guess on age?

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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by Treedom » Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:01 am

John that quote by Matt Fox is fitting, I missed it in my hastiness.

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Re: Tribute to Grandpa, Joyce Kilmer, and The Big Tree

Post by Treedom » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:04 am

Greetings again. Here is the location of the suspected Cottonwood Tree. The road is Frenchtown Road in Ironwood, MI. The tree is actually right off of the road. There isn't much walking to the tree. It is hidden in plain sight. If anyone ever visits the tree on some chance Northern Adventure, I would gladly lead you right to it. The Porcupine Mts have some tree hunting to be had nearby. At one time my father had found a registered giant there years ago, but I haven't seen any record of it, although I am new to hunting trees in this fashion.

At any rate, these photos from Google Earth should help anyone find the tree on their own without too much trouble. The canopy of the tree is clearly visible in the midst of the pine grove. You can see the Iron Range mine pits angle slightly southwest to slightly northeast. The field just due south of the tree was a mine cave, turned landfill, and then retired.

This location is less than a mile south of US HWY 2, and The Airport is north about a twelve to fifteen minute drive.
Cottonwood 2.jpg
Cottonwood Tree C.jpg

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