17, 2005 14:32 PDT
While Atlanta sprawls over literally hundreds of square miles,
parks remain scattered around the downtown area, often dating
early 20th century. Not surprising, those parks offer an
view mature individuals of an interesting mix of both native and
species in not only open but also forest settings. Now among the
known of those parks, Piedmont Park began in 1887 as a horse
venue, and continues to host a wide variety of public events.
maintained grassy areas, with scattered trees, occupy most of
189 acres. Some of the trees appear to have been planted as the
were cleared and altered while the form of other trees indicates
once belonged to the forest that formerly occupied the site.
most showing an entirely open-grown form, is likely the most
species in the park, but tuliptrees, white oaks and pin oaks are
prominent features of the landscape. (Information from
30 acres of the park also host the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The
has partitioned that area into 15 acres of mature hardwood
forest and 15
acres of maintained and developed grounds. The orchid house now
as the largest draw to the maintained section of the gardens.
building employs a unique humidifier system to support flora
forests in the Andes, the Lost World region of Venezuela, and
elevations in Borneo. Outside that building, an intricate train
incorporating many natural materials and plants from the
regions of the world capture visitors' attention. Among those,
trees from Asia of familiar genera, such as Styrax (snowbell)
(Dogwood) provide an interesting blend of the commonplace and
In particular, Giant Dogwood (Cornus controversa) closely
alternate-leaf dogwood (Cornus alternafolia). The Japanese and
species has alternate, elliptical, entire leaves and distinctive
branches as does the native species, but differs in having
in proportion to their length, and far less green on the twigs
branches. The Asian species also dwarfs its North American
individual at the botanical gardens has reached well over a foot
diameter in only about 25 years.
In contrast to the well cared for and pleasant main grounds, the
section of the property, known as Storza Woods, has been
abused. The fence that runs around the property and the various
trash and filth scattered about make one want to frequently look
their shoulder. The smaller flora of the forest has been
trashed; four of the most destructive exotic vines now spreading
the southeast, english ivy, japanese honeysuckle, chinese
kudzu, all occupy areas of the forest. Sugar maple, not native
Georgia piedmont physiographic province, has invaded the
the herbaceous layer is a patchy, and bewildering hodgepodge of
However, in spite of the genera degradation, the forest canopy
exemplary for the region. Without any swamps or rugged
slow development, the piedmont of the southeast was quickly
most of its forest, and agriculture proceeded to strip the
vast areas. Yet, Storza Woods has a canopy of approximately 150
hardwoods that suggest the site contains more productive soils
in the larger park system along the nearby Chattahoochee River.
Tuliptree dominates the canopy, but several species of oak,
and, at the lower edge of the site, beech and sycamore mix in
The understory of primarily american elm and sugarberry also
relatively rich site. The fertility of the site does not result
alluvial deposition, but rather seems a consequence of the
disturbance history of the area.
Species Cbh Height Location
Beech, American NA 104.6' Storza
Cedar, Deodar 11'0" 87.9' Piedmont
Dogwood, Flowering 5'2.5" 36.5' Piedmont
Circumference at 2'
Museum of Art
Circumference at 3'
Hickory, Mockernut NA 103.5'+ Storza
Lime, Littleleaf 9'10" 66.7' Piedmont
Tilia contorta (a basswood)
Oak, Northern Red NA 110'+ Storza
Oak, Pin 14'1" 92.3' Piedmont
104' long spread
Oak, Post 4'10" 98.1' Storza
Establishes state height record
Oak, Southern Red NA 108.1' Storza
Oak, Southern Red NA 108.8' Storza
Oak, Water NA 94.3'+ Storza
Oak, White 12'9" 112.9' Yonah
Oak, White NA 123.4' Storza
Paulownia 13'1" NA Atlanta
Garden Circumference @ ~3.5'
Pine, Loblolly NA 118.6' Storza
Sweetgum 11'10" NA Piedmont
Sweetgum 7'4" 124.7' Storza
Sycamore NA 89.5' Piedmont
Tuliptree 15'0" NA Storza
Tuliptree NA 127.1' Storza
Tuliptree 12'9" 130.3' Yonah
Tuliptree NA 136.6' Storza
Tuliptree NA ~142.2' Storza
Storza Woods Rucker Index
White Oak 123.4'
Loblolly Pine 118.6'
N. Red Oak ~115'
S. Red Oak 108.8'
Post Oak 98.1'
Water Oak ~98
A handful of other tuliptrees in Storza Woods likely exceed
140', and one
may reach 150'. These are the greatest heights so far found for
species in the Georgia piedmont. Similarly, southern red oak
exeeds 110' at the site and may approach 120', taller than any
of the species so far identified in the state. Many of the
at the site are eight to 10' cbh. The pin oak easily out-points
current state champion; as would the paulownia.