Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 1087
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:23 pm

Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:21 pm

I did a race at Croft a couple of years ago and was very much unimpressed with the forest there. I did that same race a few weeks ago with a different course and I instantly changed my mind. The upland forests were productive but when I got to the floodplain, I was duly impressed. Croft has a bit of a Congaree feel to it. The floodplain is quite large and very productive. I shot five SC records in a small part of the forest. On Saturday, Will Blozan, Mike Davie and I spent some time there. We didn't see the mystery river birch that I measured during the race but still found a record river birch. Will and Mike have some different measurements. I'm just posting what I measured.

betula nigra river birch 84.0' 84.3' 85.2' 86.5' 88.1' 87.9' 88.6' 89.8'
90.4' 90.7' 90.8' 91.3' 91.9' 93.6' 94.6' 96.7'

Liriodendron tulipfera tuliptree 130.2' 130.9' 134.2' 135.3' 136.6' 137.0' 146.4'

Liquidambar styraciflua sweetgum 118.5' 134.7'

Platinus occidentalis sycamore 121.3' 129.3' 135.8'

Juglans nigra black walnut 111.3' 116.5'

Quercus alba white oak 110.9' 111.6' 115.7' 122.5' 125.7'

Quercus rubra rubra P red oak 123.0' 129.5'

Quercus coccinea scarlet oak 119.5'

Quercus falcata southern red oak 121.8'

Quercus velotina black oak 95.0'

Quercus nigra water oak 115.7' 119.2'

Fagus grandifolia american beech 107.2'

Fraxinus pennsylvanicum green ash 119.3' 119.4'

Ulmus alata winged elm 97.4' 98.4'

Celtis laevigata sugarberry 81.7'

Gleditsia triacanthos honey locust 96.1'

Ilex opaca american holly 63.3'

Carpinus caroliniana american hornbeam 57.1'

Populus deltoides cottonwood 115.7' 120.0'

Diospyros virginiana persimmon 100.1' 103.8'

Prunus serotina black cherry 90.1'

Carya alba mockernut hickory 120.2'

Carya cordiformis bitternut hickory 104.1' 116.5'

Carya ovata shagbark hickory 101.3' 125.0' (Will)

Carya pallida pale hickory 99.2'

Pinus echinata shortleaf pine 106.7' 108.1' 108.8' 109.3' 112.3' 117.6' 118.9'

Pinus taeda loblolly pine 117.4' 118.3' 118.6'

Pinus virginiana Virginia pine 104.2'

Juniperus virginiana redcedar 75.4' 77.0' 81.9' 83.5' 83.6' 86.6' 91.1'

I'll head back and spend more time on the uplands and try to locate the phantom river birch I thought I hit at 100'+.

Last edited by bbeduhn on Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:23 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Matt Markworth
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:41 pm

Re: Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by Matt Markworth » Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:00 pm


Wow, the Carolinas never cease to amaze!

I'll post a link to this page on the Betula "Genus of the Week" post and add the tall River Birch to the list. I'll also add the Post Oak and Water Oak when Quercus is "Genus of the Week."


User avatar
Posts: 1087
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:23 pm

Re: Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:54 pm

I believe Mike had a slightly higher figure for the river birch record. The redcedar and southern red oak should be state records as well. The water oak should be a national record. I'll have to get coordinates and pictures, spread and girth on it.

User avatar
Posts: 1087
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:23 pm

Re: Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:51 am

I previously reported on a tall water oak. I passed through the area many times over the weekend during a race and took the laser with me for one lap. It appears the 138' water oak does not exist. I may have hit a tulip branch when originally measuring. There are many water oaks in the 110's. the 138' seemed like an anomaly. I went in search of a 100' river birch as well. No luck on that either but I did find more 90 footers. The tulip is the first one on the floodplain to reach 140'. One trail that I traversed at night looked very enticing under the light of the moon. I'll have to get back there and see what it looks like in daylight. Just a few measurements this time:

Quercus alba white oak 113.0'

Platinus occidentalis sycamore 121.1' 134.0'

Populus deltoides cottonwood 124.5'

Pinus echinata shortleaf pine 111.7' 113.6'

Betula nigra river birch 86.5' 92.5' 92.5' 94.7'

Acer rubrum red maple 112.5'

Celtis laevigata sugarberry 109.7'

Liquidambar styraciflua sweetgum 130.4'

Liriodendron tulipifera tuliptree 141.5'

Current Rucker

R5 = 134.40'
R10 = 126.13'
R20 = 119.22'

User avatar
Posts: 1087
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:23 pm

Re: Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:17 am

I noticed a couple of really nice stands of redcedar and had already found a state record redcedar so I went back to check out the stands. These were spotted at night under a full moon so I really wasn't certain what to expect. I knew they were significant but wasn't sure just how significant they were. Some nice hardwoods also resided near the stands. The redcedars were not as tall as I'd hoped but 60-70 footers were aplenty. The hardwoods did not disappoint, especially the white oak.

quercus velotina black oak 106.7'

quercus nigra water oak 115.0'

quercus rubra red oak 120.9'

quercus alba white oak 139.0' 132.3' 124.8'

platanus occi sycamore 126.5'

carya glabra pignut hickory 106.2'

carya alba mockernut hickory 113.6'

carya septentrionalis S. shagbark hick 112.5' 111.6'

juniperis virginiana eastern redcedar 78.7' 72.9' 71.5'

betula nigra river birch 78.1'


redcedar 90.4' state height record cbh 66"

river birch 98.3' state and national height record cbh 74"

river birch 72.5' cbh 110" state girth record

Croft is the #1 site for river birch in South Carolina and perhaps in the US. Greater girths can be found in other states but heightwise, it reigns supreme. The biggest white oaks all grow on the side of a bluff that runs along the river flats. The largest is about 10.5' to 11' in girth. It has a substantial difference between the high and low sides, making it a challenge to measure from above. the crown is enormous for such a tall oak. It still comes up 4' shy of a state height record. I was so determined to get the height right that I totally forgot to get pictures. I know of some more white oaks that I'll pass on a race there in April. They could be 130's as well.

Top heights so far:

tulip 146.4'
white oak 139.0'
sycamore 135.8'
sweetgum 134.7'
red oak 129.5'
shag hick 125.0'
cottonwood 124.5'
s red oak 121.8' state record
mockernut 120.2'
scarlet oak 119.5'

green ash 119.4'
water oak 119.2'
shortleaf pine 118.9'
loblolly pine 118.6'
bitternut hick 116.5'
walnut 116.5'
s shag hick 112.5'
red maple 112.5'
sugarberry 109.7'
beech 107.2'

black oak 106.7'
pignut hick 106.2'
va pine 104.2'
persimmon 103.8'
pale hick 99.2'
winged elm 98.4'
river birch 98.3' state and nat'l record
honey locust 96.1'
redcedar 90.4' state record
cherry 90.1'

other notables

20 river birch over 80'
11 river birch over 90'
hornbeam 57.3'
holly 63.3'
pawpaw upper 50's

R5 = 137.08'
R10= 129.64'
R20= 122.37'
R30= 114.69'

User avatar
Posts: 1087
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:23 pm

Re: Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:10 am

98.3' river birch crown
98.3' river birch crown
98.3' river birch
98.3' river birch

User avatar
Posts: 1087
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:23 pm

Re: Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:26 pm

Croft is the home to the new Juniperus Virginiana champ and remains the home of the Betula nigra champ in height. The abundance of tall redcedars and river birches became even more evident with last week's visit. Some of the river birches have age. I would guess several are over 100 years, but they are mostly beaten up and have trunk breakage. Most of the taller river birches are fairly young, likely 60-70 years. The redcedars all appear to be rather young. The new champ is likely between 50 and 60 years of age. They are all straight and apically dominant. Their bark is all very sinewy. There is no smooth bark to be found on a redcedar at Croft. All of the tall redcedars grow on the flood plain or just a few feet above it. One large grove is another 10-12 feet in altitude but this grove tops out in the 70's.

River birch is now represented by 20 individuals over 80' (likely a fair number more), and 11 over 90', topping out at 98.3' (due for a remeasure but I didn't have time to get to it). Redcedar is now represented by 16 individuals over 70', 9 over 80', 3 over 90', and 1 over 100'. The new champ is 102.1' and it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

Another species that does well at Croft is the water oak. These typically top 100' and the tallest tops out at 119.2'. Most of the water oaks grow on the flood plain but they so grow on the bluffs as well. They are much smaller on the bluffs, mostly in the 50'-60' range versus 90'-120' on the flood plain.

I still have a fair amount to remeasure and a few new areas to measure. Shumard oak might top 130' and scarlet should top 120'. Sweetgum may hit 140', along with some more sycamores.

The area I had expected to be the least intereseting turned out to be the most interesting. I hadn't expected to find any old growth, especially tulip old growth. None of it is actually old growth forest but about 8-10 old growth tulips were located. They do have the ability to top 150' in the SC Piedmont.

Tuliptree grove

lirio tulip 154.2' 150.3' 141.0'
Plat occid 141.3'
Liquid styr 127.0'

A loblolly plantation lies just above the tulip grove. The tallest ones at Croft all grow here.

Pinus taeda 125.3' 124.3' 124.0'

The redcedar grove is along Kelsey Creek.

Junip virgin 102.1' 93.2' 79.9' 79.6'

All numbers from Kelsey Creek:

Lirio tulip 154.2' 150.3' 146.2' 144.9' 143.6' 141.0' 140.5'
Quercus rubra 140.0' 134.2' 127.6'
Quercus alba 133.3' 125.5'
Quercus falcata 115.7'
Quercus nigra 113.3' 108.5'
Fagus grandif 109.1'
Frax biltmore 101.8'
Liquid styrac 127.0' 125.0' 122.3'
Plat occid 141.3' 136.3'
Carya cordif 114.6'
Prunus sero 93.0'
Popu deltoi 123.1'
Pinus echinata 120.4' 118.8' 115.1'
Pinus taeda 125.3' 124.3' 124.0'
Pinus virgin 109.1' 101.0'
Betula nigra 94.5'
Juniper virgin 102.1' 93.2' 88.2' 85.8' 79.9' 79.6'

Updated Rucker R10=132.64'

Lirio tulip 154.2'
Plat occid 141.3'
Quercus rubra 140.0'
Quercus alba 139.0'
Liquid styrac 134.7'
Pinus taeda 125.3'
Carya ovata 125.0'
Popul delt 124.5'
Quercus falcata 121.8'
Pinus echinata 120.4'

Post Reply

Return to “South Carolina”