240 feet in height????

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Lucas
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240 feet in height????

Post by Lucas » Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:13 pm

http://rslandscapedesign.blogspot.ca/se ... el/Quercus

"The largest (oak) trees in the original old growth forest that blanketed the Eastern U.S. ( Minnesota to Maine & south ) during the times of the Native Indians reached up to 240 feet in height, 160 feet in width and 11 feet in trunk diameter. This rivals the largest trees in the Amazon Valley of South America. "

This fellow repeats this often on his site.

Can anyone else confirm it?
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Will Blozan
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by Will Blozan » Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:24 pm

Obviously hath not a clue.

Climbatree813
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by Climbatree813 » Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:26 pm

I'd like to see his sources. No matter what "before 1800" means that numbers probably are off and it seems improbable that an Oak in Eastern North America could reach 240 ft for height. The canopy I can deal with. It doesn't seem that unrealistic, though huge nonetheless. The circumference is enormous. (Almost 44 ft around by my math for the White Oak and 53 for Bur?) Crazy again, but I wouldn't mind seeing a Bur Oak 20 ft around nonetheless as big as this guy claims. =) Who knows their true potential. Given the perfect conditions, perfect location, and perfect genes could a White Oak or Bur Oak reach anywhere near those proportions? Maybe somewhere on in the Ohio River valley (as the guy said the largest Bur grew) is a neighborhood that had the best soil in the whole United States for Bur Oak and some massive Bur Oaks grew there that were bigger than any Bur Oaks any of us know about, or maybe it was just an old logger's tail about the oak he fell, or some tree guy just wanted to sound like he knew something about a species' history. I guess we may never know.

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dbhguru
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by dbhguru » Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:52 pm

Lucas,

Will says, "obviously hath not a clue." That's the short response. Here's a more detailed (rambling) one.

I have to salute this fellow for the work he did. There is an enormous amount of information pleasingly presented. However, there is a huge risk that he apparently does not understand of citing old sources of information on tree dimensions, and even much more modern information in the champion tree lists. A number of his height dimensions are greatly exaggerated. The other dimensions are also a stretch, but not by so much. Tree equivalents of big fish stories are spread generously throughout the literature. I suppose it is fun to romanticize about trees of such stature once populating the landscape, but the old accounts just don't hold water, and random extractions from newspaper articles or even quoting from presumably authoritative sources carries deadly risks. We could write a book on this topic.

Large areas of old growth forest such as in the Great Smoky Mountains NP, NY's Adirondacks, Michigan's Porcupine Mountains, Congaree NP, and smaller areas like Cook Forest, PA, Savage Gulf, TN, etc. give us a pretty good idea of what individual species can achieve in terms of maximum growth. We have trees in those places that have been dated to between 400 and to nearly 600 years. They aren't upstart forests.

One first has to know where to look for the tallest members of a species. Places like the rich coves of the Smokies are unsurpassed for tree height in the entire East. Trees grown in the open with broad crowns seldom reach the heights of their forest-grown counterparts. Consequently, we can employ terrain maps and Google Earth to locate candidate sites for unusually tall trees. Some use LIDAR. We map and measure the tallest trees in the East and they give us our height thresholds. We have the process down. It is pretty much a science. Matt Markworth's maximum height database is an outgrowth. Of course, these are trees growing today. They don't absolutely disprove the bloggers sources, but we can use species to species comparisons to help us judge the validity of some of the outsized claims we read about. Here is an example.

For eastern hardwoods, all authoritative sources (that includes us) put Liriodendron tulipifera at the head of the list for height in the East. We've never broken 200 feet for the species (191.9 for a tree Will and team climbed in the Smokies.) I expect historically a few did, but not many for reasons of crown strength. The older the tree, the more likely that its crown will have experienced multiple breakages. But how does this help us evaluate maximum oak heights? We can see oaks and tuliptrees in competition with one another in many locations. The tulips invariably win the race to the canopy. If the tulips won't make 200 feet, the oaks darn sure won't by relative comparison. The very tallest of the oaks top out at between 140 and 160 feet. An occasional oak of a species like Cherry Bark in a place like Congaree may make it to 165, but that is it. Yes, somewhere some oak in the past may have made it to 170 feet, but the odds of it having been recognized, let alone accurately measured, are small. by contrast, the odds of a very large girth, but shorter open grown oak having been mis-measured and reported, and reported, and reported .... are virtually 100%. Here is another point. Oaks lose their apical dominance when they mature. Their crowns flatten out and upward growth slows significantly. So increased age does not lead to an ever taller oak, only marginally. This allows us to measure trees in a mature, but not ancient forest, and get close to maximum heights.

I once read about a Northern Red in the Cattaloochee District of the Smokies that was over 20 feet around and reported as 170 feet tall. The information was published in a popular hiking guide that is otherwise excellent. Will Blozan visited and measured the oak (can't hide an oak of that size). As I recall, its girth was close to 22 feet, but its height was only around 136. Why such a height difference? Because the individual or individuals who measured it probably used the tangent method, which is notoriously inaccurate, especially for broad-crown hardwoods. Happens all the time.

The bottom line regrettably is that writers cannot trust the conventional sources of information, and especially the old sources, on tree dimensions. Reading about the super trees of yesteryear from different accounts frequently represent the same original source, albeit slightly reworded by each author. Multiple references ostensibly backing one another up, but actually from one source, proves nothing. Authors plagiarize. Happens all the time.

One of the missions of NTS is to put truth into the numbers. It continues to be an uphill battle. You may have read a recent post I made in which I called to task a well-known University's Extension Forestry Service for publishing utterly ridiculous height maximums for a number of tree species. In that case, the heights were mostly understated, except one species height maximum was listed as 190 feet - a completely unreasonable number. But this wasn't somebody's personal blog, reflecting lots of enthusiasm, but little credibility. This was the website of a major educational institution. All this has led us in NTS to trust nobody's tree heights except our own and those affiliated with us whom we know to be competent.

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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Lucas
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by Lucas » Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:07 am

Thanks all,
Suspicions confirmed.


Also
"Here is another point. Oaks lose their apical dominance when they mature. Their crowns flatten out and upward growth slows significantly. So increased age does not lead to an ever taller oak, only marginally. This allows us to measure trees in a mature, but not ancient forest, and get close to maximum heights."

I forgot this or didn't know it. Good info.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Lucas
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by Lucas » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:43 am

I should have asked what is the oak height record?

http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=93&t=6256

Worldwide is it the 200 feet mentioned in this post?

What is it for the US?
Last edited by Lucas on Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Larry Tucei
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:44 am

Lucas - Valley Oak in California gets huge and tall here is the tallest on their listing, http://californiabigtrees.calpoly.edu/i ... yValue=118. Congaree National Park in South Carolina has some tall Oaks as well. We measured the Champion Cherrybark Oak to 141', back in 09. They probably have the tallest Oaks in the Southeast. I have measured Shumard Oak in Ms to 139.5', Willow Oak to 138' and Nutall to 136'. I think in the south Oak trees maybe could reach 150'-160' but that would be the exception. Larry

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Will Blozan
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by Will Blozan » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:08 pm

From the top of my head, for eastern trees, only cherrybark has reached 160'. Shumard, northern red, and white can reach and exceed 150'. Rarely.

Will

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dbhguru
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Re: 240 feet in height????

Post by dbhguru » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:45 pm

Lucas,

Here is a point to remember. The trees we in NTS find and confirm at the height limits for their respective soecies, are almost never the ones that others report as the tallest. This is an oft repeated story. Others measure trees with huge crowns and make erors in the tens of feet. We frequently explain what goes wrong. A few get it.

Congaree NP is a textbook case of mis-measuring broad-crowned hardwoods and even conifers by using tape and clinometer methods. Long story. But it led to the National Park Service making the claim that Congaree was the tallest temperate hardwood forest in the US, if I remember how they stated it. Congaree is outstanding for sure, but doesn't match the Smokies in stature. Will Blozan and other Ents, including myself, have measured many, many trees in Congaree and pretty well know their limits.

In terms of the maximum heights of oaks in the Northeast, slightly over 140 feet. Northern reds claim that title.

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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