North Prong Sumac Creek   Elaine C Riddle
  Nov 27, 2003 07:46 PST 

On Tuesday, my dad and I visited the North Prong of Sumac Creek in north
central Georgia. The creek drains the low elevations of the mountain
west of the Cohuttas then flows out into the Great Valley, which
separates the Blue Ridge physiographic province from the Ridge and Valley
province. Narrow flats surrounded by steep slopes line much of the of
the creek and tributaries, and bedrock in the area is generally less
acidic than the mountains to the east.
Virginia pine dominates most of the ridge tops while more recently clear
cut ridges have been planted with loblolly pines. The slopes, especially
the north facing ones, support primarily white pines. Conifers,
primarily hemlock, also dominate along the narrowest portions of the
streams in the area. In contrast, the flats along the steam support
diverse hardwood forests with scattered clusters of conifers. In the
flats beech, exceptionally abundant for low elevations in the southeast,
and sweetgum are probably the most widespread canopy species. Sugar
maple is abundant in the understory and midstory at the site, but scarce
in most of the Georgia Blue Ridge. Shagbark hickory, swamp chestnut oak,
hophornbean, american elm, winged elm, and umbrella magnolia are other
species uncommon at the southern end of the Blue Ridge that grow at the
site. Scattered old chestnut oaks survive on some of the ridges and some
of the beeches may be fairly old, but most of the forests at the site
have been cut within the past 100 years.
        Height to diameter ratios reach approximately 118:1, but are
generally much lower. The initial Rucker Index is 124.88' and most
likely to gain about two feet from swamp chestnut oak and northern red

Species                        Common name        Cbh        Height      
Acer saccharum             Sugar Maple           6'10"      113.4'      
Tallest known in state?
Acer saccharum       Sugar Maple          5'10"      103.4'
Carya glabra            Pignut Hickory        5'4"        130.3'
Carya glabra            Pignut Hickory        NA        127.8'
Carya ovata             hagbark Hickory    8'1"        127.7'      
                                  Must be taller in peidmont
Carya ovata                   Shagbark Hickory   NA        109.6'
Fagus graniflolia             Beech                   8'3"       112.0'       2nd tallest known in state?
Fagus graniflolia             Beech                     10'1"       96.1'
       Largest volume beech at site
Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum               6'6"        123.2'      
Slightly taller individual likely
Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum               7'5"        122.3'      
Many comprably trees
Liriodendron tulipifera    Tuliptree                 8'2"        148.0'
    Older than most, 130' common
Pinus strobus                 White Pine              10'3"      135.7
Pinus strobus                 White Pine               8'6"       
Pinus taeda                    Loblolly Pine           5'5"        105.0'
Platanus occidentalis      Sycamore                7'1"        124.2'    
Only tall one in area
Quercus alba                 White Oak               6'4"        121.1'
   Need to find more like this in GA
Quercus rubra               Northern Red Oak   7'7.5"     112.9'      One
taller @ site, need more time
Tilia heterophylla           White Basswood      5'0"        112.3'     
100-110' common

Happy Thanksgiving
Jess Riddle
Re: North Prong Sumac Creek   Jess Riddle
  Dec 01, 2003 07:02 PST 

The western end of the Blue Ridge in Georgia seems to brake down into two
distinct regions based on topography and geology: the large mountains of
the Cohuttas with acidic streams and less acidic upper coves, and the
lower elevation area between the Cohuttas and the broad, flat valley that
the lower Conasauga River flows through. In the Cohuttas, sassafras,
witch-hazel, mountain winterberry, black birch, and black cherry are all
more abundant an more frequently reach large sizes than elsewhere in the
Georgia mountains. The area also has a high concentration of large
hemlocks thanks to the railroad loggers lack of interest in the species,
but hemlocks in Georgia still probably grow best near the NC and SC
boarders in the Chattooga watershed.
The lower elevation area is more unknown to me. In the small portion
I've seen, Sugar maple and shagbark hickory grow in unusual abundance and
larger than most of the blue ridge. Virginia pine and white oak may also
excel in the area. Grassy Mountain, at the interface between the two
areas, has exceptionally large chestnut oaks and northern red oaks, thanks
in large part to the low levels of logging on the mountain.