Panther Creek   Jess
  Apr 01, 2002 23:01 PST 
     Panther Creek flows into the Tugaloo River at the notch in the eastern
border of Georgia. The only portion of the Brevard Belt with mountainous
terrain in Georgia is located along the lower section of the creek. Coves
in that area support varied forest types. Coves may have chestnut oak
canopies with Rhododendron minor under-stories, hemlock canopies and
Rhododendron major under-stories, or mixed hardwood canopies with open
under-stories and dense herbaceous layers. The coves have been set aside
as a botanical area due to the great diversity in them.

     Rain limited our ability to move around in the area and measure
heights, but there is an abundance of trees worth measuring in the rich
coves. Tuliptree was the primary canopy tree in the cove we spent the most
time, but we did not have a good opportunity to measure any of them.
Yellow buckeye was the most prolific mid-story tree in the cove. The
under-story was generally open, but american hornbeam and paw paw were
present. Blue cohosh and may apple were common ground cover plants along
with a host of other herbaceous species. Other canopy species included
white ash, black walnut, bitternut hickory, white basswood, American beech,
sweetgum, white oak, and either American or slippery elm. We are not
familiar enough with the species to be able to distinguish between the two
elms when twigs are inaccessible. Redbud was occasionally found in the
coves but was much more common in the bottomland along Panther Creek.

     In the list below CACO=bitternut hickory, CECA=redbud, FAGR=American
beech, FRAM=white ash, JUCI=butternut, JUNI=black walnut, TIHE=white
basswood, UL=elm.

Sp. Cbh Height
CACO 5'5.5"    111.0'
CECA 3'2"
CECA 2'11"     55.5'
CECA 1'7.5"    58.4'
FAGR 8'9"
FRAM 8'7.5"    ~127.9'
JUCI 4'0"
JUCI 3'6.5"    ~85.6'
JUNI 5'5" 117'+
TIHE NA   120.4'
UL? 12'0"     130.1'

     The trees in the table range from approximately 700' elevation to
approximately 900'. Other bitternut hickories in the area are almost
certainly taller. The crown of the largest cbh redbud is dying back, but
dead limbs may extend higher than the other redbuds in the table. A
subsequent visit should turn up multiple black walnuts over 120'. The
sweetgums may exceed 130', which is remarkable for the species outside of
floodplain sites. Tuliptree has a good chance of exceeding 150'. The
redbud, butternut, black walnut, and elm are all the tallest we know of for
their species in GA. The main rich cove is one of the tallest hardwood
coves in the state, and, unlike other coves of comparable height, the
forest does not approach being a pure tuliptree stand.

Jess & Doug Riddle