6/2/2009 I had the opportunity to visit the
Laurel Branch Leviathan
to assess its recovery from hemlock woolly adelgid treatments.
This hemlock is the second largest documented in the Tsuga
Search Project and scaled 1,583 cubic feet of wood on a stem
18’4” in girth and 156.3’ high. The tree grows on Laurel Branch
in the Greenbrier District of Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, TN side. Attending the visit was Joe Chamberlin of the
Valent Corporation (who licenses Safari insecticide), Jesse
Webster of the NPS, Josh Kelly of ENTS and Wild Law, two SAFC
interns, and my brother who was visiting and needed a day in the
Lauren, Joe, Jesse, and me before the “Death March”. Photo by
It was a
gorgeous day and we passed among forest giants of many species.
We also passed through or near a predator beetle release site
(to combat HWA) which was not looking so good. Some hemlocks
were still alive and some actually looked salvageable with
insecticide treatments. We found no beetles. Generally though,
the great hemlock forests of the area were dead.
Also dead was
the Leviathan, a victim of the little sucking beasts and
drought. Although treated with insecticides (imidacloprid and
dinotefuran) the applications were apparently too late to take
effect. This was the largest hemlock in the state of Tennessee and among the
tallest documented in the state. It was also due to be a
National Champion and was nominated by Jess Riddle, who found
the tree in the early 2000’s.
I am not sure
what the runner up for largest TN hemlock currently is, but I am
sure it is in the Smokies in a conservation area. I hear one of
the Tsuga Search trees that was not in the top 15- the
LeConte Creek Hemlock-
is still alive and scales 1,194 cubic feet. If alive, this tree
should take the title.
and the LeConte Creek
Hemlock July 6th, 2007
Will F. Blozan
Eastern Native Tree Society
Appalachian Arborists, Inc.