Conifers of the East
30, 2002 16:36 PST
Great information! The distribution of
whopper pines in the Northeast may have been much more sparse
than the appealing anecdotal accounts of yesteryear suggest.
There is, however, a lot of territory in the Northeast occupied
by white pines so that the long tail of the upper end of the
species size distribution can produce respectable numbers even
as a miniscule percentage of the total population.
On occasion, the right combination of
soil type, depth, continuous availability of moisture, and
protection may have combined to foster the development of super
stands. But I presently believe that the averages were always
far more modest. There are plenty of areas in New England where
pines have matured to ages of 100 to 150 years of age, yet
individual pines that reach 130 feet or more in height and 12
feet or more in circumference make up a tiny percentage of the
population of mature pines. Trees that make 150 feet in height
and 12 feet in girth indeed form an exclusive club. That is why
we created a special list for such trees, but pines that reach
150 feet in height and 13.33 feet in girth, earning 2000 points,
form an ultra exclusive club in the Northeast - so exclusive, in
fact, that so far we have none confirmed. The huge Tamworth Pine
in NH probably does make it now, provided my measurement of a
year ago June was sufficiently accurate. Big Bertha has an
opportunity to make it in 2 or 3 years. The Anders Run pine has
a chance in 4 to 6 years. The Ice Glen pine might make it in 5
to 8 years. Four trees aren't many, though. Elsewhere, the
Adirondacks may have 3 or 4 in this ultra-exclusive class. The
Grandmother tree in Pack Forest in the Daks may make it, but
upward growth probably does not exceed 2 to 3 inches per year
for that tree - if that. Making allowances for yet to be
discovered behemoths, I think 10 to 15 pines is the upper limit
for the Northeast and that is giving every benefit of the doubt.
That is an incredibly thin distribution.
From what Lee Frelich has told us, I do
believe that Wisconsin and Michigan once had a large population
of behemoth pines, but those states have been so whacked that
today huge pines are a rarity. Given all the looking that Paul
Jost and Lee Frelich have done, Mid-western giants are for all
intents and purposes non-existent. So oddly, unless the Daks
have hidden giants, it falls to the mountain south to produce
the bulk of the giant pines.
Next, let's look at the giant hemlocks
of the southern Appalachians. To the eight hemlocks that meet
the criteria of at least 150-feet tall and 13.333 feet in girth
that Will listed, there is at least one more in Joyce Kilmer.
I'm sure Will hasn't scratched the surface in the Smokies. There
is just so many places to look. I think South Carolina has
several hemlocks to add to the club, so that courtesy of the
southern Appalachians, Tsuga canadensis is the number one large
conifer in the eastern USA.
This proclamation of Tsuga dominance is
a bit misleading, though, if one looks at hemlock and white pine
regionally. In the Northeast, white pine definitely achieves
larger size than eastern hemlock. That is also true of the
Mid-west. Why that also isn't true in the southern Appalachians,
I don't know, especially considering that white pine is a very
large tree. But measurements are measurements. The figures don't
It is a lot of fun to profile tree
species across their full ranges. One quickly thinks of lots of
interesting questions to research. Where does a particular
species reach its most impressive proportions? Which species
retain significant size over a greater proportion of their
ranges? The reverse of that? What were the historical maximums
for a species and where were they achieved? Which species have
the broadest gene pools that allow them widest variations in
size beyond their means? Why does the white ash reach such
splendid proportions in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts?
Can ENTS data be used to identify prime species habitat? Habitat
degradation? Do flood plain species come back better than their
upland counterparts? If so, are today's mature cottonwoods and
silver maples of the Connecticut River Valley on a par with
those of yesteryear? I presume flooding is flooding past or
present. Who is interested in answering these questions? How can
the data be used?
----- Original Message -----
From: Will Blozan
Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2002 5:31 PM
Subject: RE: Big Pines in the Northeast
Here are some pines from down here. I also included, out of curiosity, eastern hemlock and the great Loblolly in Congaree.
Jess could give the stats for the riddle white pine which may
just reach 2000 pts. Why doesn't the NE have more 2000 points
trees? I thought WP was a northern tree and reached its max in
MI and NH!
From: Robert Leverett
Sent: Friday, November 29, 2002 5:12 PM
Subject: Big Pines in the Northeast
Attached is an
Excel spreadsheet of big pines around the Northeast listed by
location. The largest pine is recorded per site. In the list,
missing are the big pines of Pine Orchard and Paul Smith College
in the Adirondacks. Gary Beluzo has measurements from Pine
Orchard. I don't have data on the Paul Smith pines. If Fred
Breglia took the measurements and used a laser-clinometer
combination, then the results would be acceptable to ENTS. I'll
see the Paul Smith pines in the spring.
One fact clearly
stands out. For forest grown forms, a height x diameter total of
1500 points creates a good club. However, the list would
eventually get long with enough looking. The real threshold
occurs around 1800 points. A white pine of 120 feet has to have
a 15-foot circumference to make 1800 points. But the really
exclusive club consists of white pines with point totals of 2000
or more. In terms of exclusivity, this point total probably
applies to the species throughout its range.
How does my
favorite haunt MTSF do when point totals are considered? The
isolated huge pine in MTSF that we call Big Bertha stands in a
class by itself, but three Mohawk pines reach 1800 points, 16
make 1500 points, 27 pines make 1400 points, and 52 make 1300
points. By comparison, in Bryant Woods, 11 pines make 1500
points, 17 make 1400, and 25 make 1300 (there are more). Six
pines make the magic 1500 points in Ice Glen, 9 make 1400, and
12 make 1300 (there are more).
Big Conifers of the East
30, 2002 17:37 PST
I think the Medlin Mtn Monarch (SC) is the biggest hemlock
outside of the
Smokies. It scores a hair under 2400 points. Paul Jost and I are
Monday, Tuesday and maybe part of Wednesday in Joyce Kilmer this
will finally do it ENTS justice.
Yes, the Smokies has thousands of hemlocks over 2000 points. I
the big ones I could remember the stats for. If I graphed the
for trees I have measured, the peak would drop off quickly
2050 or so. I think the simple index is powerful and very
indicative. I will
be looking for the 2000 pointers in JKilmer (the big one in
Poplar Cove is
now dead- it scored around 2125 points and was not 176 feet tall
in the old NC state list). I have a lead on a massive white pine
will be sure to visit. Michael Davie measured a dead pine that
been close to 2100 points. As I look on the topo map, the
should have plenty of low elevation habitat that will grow super
hemlocks comparable to JKilmer. I have already measured hemlocks
to over 15'
in girth and 160' tall (not same tree) at elevations below 1500'
The west end of the Smokies is a gold mine of virtually untapped
Pitch and shortleaf pines are very close to the 140' club out
unexplored and uncut habitat exists for 200' white pines. I have
second-growth pines to 165' back in 1995. They likely exceed
170' by now. I
NEED A GRANT!!!
Big Conifers of the East
01, 2002 09:00 PST
are the numbers for the biggest white pines I know of in GA. The
Overflow Creek tree and the stouter of Mill Creek trees are over
old. The Laurel Creek tree is probably 125-130 years old and has
growing seasons since it was last measured. The Reed Creek tree
under 100 years old and has not been measured in three years.
probably some undiscovered giants in the Chattooga watershed and
another 12' cbh tree on Mill Creek, but was unable to measure
at the time.
Big Conifers of the East
02, 2002 09:05 PST
I have four white pines in my field notes from WI that have
1731, and 2124 ENTS points. There are also a number from the
score over 1500 ENTS points. I also think that a large number of
pines in WI will enter the 1500 club over the next 50 years as
reserved forests mature.
The main problem Paul and I have is that two people can't cover
acres very effectively, and we have spent the last two years
just trying to
figure out where to measure trees systematically once we
doing that, which I hope will be soon.
By the way, we have recently found 126 foot white pines in the
Twin Cities Metro Area at Falls Creek Natural Area. They are
old trees still putting on 1-2 foot internodes, and have made me
a fool after I predicted that trees would not reach 100 feet in
area. I now predict that the Falls Creek trees will top out at
and maybe the trees will make my predictions look foolish again 20
years from now. We also found some 133 foot white pines at
Itasca. Both of
these areas are within 20 miles of large prairie areas (by
'large' I mean
1000 miles across), which makes their height amazing, even
though they may
not get near the records from New England or the Smokies.