Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

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bbeduhn
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Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:05 pm

Armstrong Creek is a very out of the way spot. It has a fish hatchery, some rich forests and pine trees. Most of these pines along the river are white pines. Some have grown in after previous logging. These are more of the typical height, growing in very acidic soils covered in rhododendron. I'm still trying to find a way in to check out some cove grown white pines and a couple of very promising hardwood coves. I had been thwarted by a logging operation from one direction and a completely overgrown trial from the other direction. So I was stuck with Armstrong Creek and Bee Rock Creek, of which I'd read had rich cove forest.

Armstrong Creek had multiple creek crossings so I hit Bee Rock first. A logging road took me a little ways up the creek and then it stopped and passage became difficult. Tulip numbers are low along Bee Rock. A slope/cove had plenty of tulips but I couldn't break 150' at that spot. Chestnut oak, black oak, white oak and bitternut hickory are quite at home here.

Lirio tulip 147.7' 147.5' 147.5' 143.6'
Carya cordiformis 140.6' 138.6' 130.2' 126.7' 123.1'
Platanus occid 135.0' 130.6' 127.1' 126.8'
Quercus montana 142.5' 132.5' 123.4'
Quercis rubra 123.3' 123.0'
Quercus alba 133.1' 130.3' 124.4' 124.1'
Quercus velotina 130.7' 126.7' 126.3' 121.5'
Robinia pseudo 118.5' 117.9'
Magnolia fraseri 98.2'
Pinus strobus 117.0'
Pinus echinata 113.5'
Pinus rigida 100.1'


Armstrong Creek

I was quite surprised by the tall, green crowns in the distance. The first grove may contain the tallest 50 year old pine in the east. Five groves were planted on the flats along Armstrong Creek. Whorl count comes to 50 years or at least very close.

Grove 1
Pinus strobus 170.3' 162.2' 161.0' 160.5' 159.3' 157.9' 151.6' 146.1' 143.6'
Lirio tulip 152.9'
Grove 1
Grove 1
Grove 1
Grove 1
170’ white pine
170’ white pine
Grove 2
Pinus strobus 146.0' 144.7' 137.1' 134.5' 132.3'

Grove 3
Pinus strobus 146.9'
Pinus echinata 104.8' 103.4' 102.8'
Oxydendron arborea 89.0'

Grove 4
Pinus strobus 133.5'
Pinus rigida 111.4'
111’ pitch pine
111’ pitch pine
Grove 5
Pinus strobus 143.8' 141.2'

Cove located between groves 4 and 5

Carya glabra 132.4' 123.0'
Quercus montana 135.6' 130.3' 130.0' 128.3'
Quercus rubra 139.8' 136.3' 129.7'
Quercus alba 128.4' 124.3'
Quercus velotina 127.0'
Lirio tulip 153.5' 152.9' 149.0' 148.0' 145.4'
150’+ tulip
150’+ tulip
120’s white oaks
120’s white oaks
along stream, not in pine groves

magnolia fraseri 108.7'

along road

Pinus strobus 129.7' 127.9' 126.0' 125.8' 125.6'
Pinus virginiana 81.1'
Carya cordiformis 125.4'

Right by the fish hatchery, I noticed a white headed bird in a tree on the ridge. It was my first confirmed sighting of a bald eagle in the mountains.
Bald eagle
Bald eagle
Whatever white pine stock the Forest Service used in the late 60's, it is loving it at Armstrong Creek! The soils are suited to it and the pines are getting plenty of water without getting too drenched.

ryandallas
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Re: Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by ryandallas » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:10 pm

Wow, great write up! The hickory numbers are interesting. Bitternut seems to be one of the unsung giants of the forest. Here in Connecticut, only tulips and sycamore (among hardwoods) are taller.

Is that sourwood very tall for the species?

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:10 pm

Eyeballing-wise, what were the girths of those tall white pines like? Very convenient to have a nice countable set of whorls like that.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:57 pm

Ryan,
Sourwood typically grows to about 60’ in upland habitats in the Southern Apps. In acidic, pine-loving environments, it typically gets closer to 80’ and occasionally tops 90’. I would consider 95’ to be exceptional but it has hit 111’ in the Smokies. Will Blozan has found a fair number of 100’+ sourwoods in the Smokies. 100’ has been topped in NC outside of the Smokies and in SC. I believe it has also been topped in TN and it should top 100’ in GA. The lone SC 100 footer is about 100 yards from GA along the Chattooga River.

Eli,
I should have wrapped the 170’. It’s likely about 8’ in circumference. Others probably range from 6’ to 8’ in girth.

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ElijahW
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Re: Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by ElijahW » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:51 pm

Brian,

The growth rates on these trees and the ones in your Walker Cove post are incredible. Even on a good site, a White Pine or Tuliptree up here might average half what you’re getting down there. The versatility of White Pine as a species is also on display here; I wonder how many states can claim a 50 meter individual? Thanks for keeping up with these sites.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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bbeduhn
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Re: Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:29 pm

Elijah,
I've never seen these growth rates before either. The pines are growing where they wouldn't naturally grow. At Armstong Creek, as soon as I left the flats, the heights dropped dramatically. One grove was planted on a combination or creek flat and a gently sloping cove. Heights dropped of by about 30'. At Big Ivy, the tallest grove occupied a flat, near a creek but not on a creek flat, and a slightly elevated mini cove. The mini cove had the tallest trees, in fact every one over 150'. The stock they used happens to love the soil, which also supports quality hardwoods. I'll get back at some point and study the growth rate of the tops of the tallest pines. I really don't know if they're still keeping their average pace.

I'm not certain on all of these but I believe these states have 50m pines: NC, SC,GA,TN,VA, WV, KY,PA, MA

OH is very close and MI, WI, NY, NJ, CT, MD and ME are candidates.
Brian

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Armstrong Creek, McDowell County, NC

Post by Erik Danielsen » Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:36 pm

NY is 0.031m shy of 50m! If we can get back out to remeasure sometime this year NY will probably join that list.

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