29, 2006 14:49 PST
In the northeastern Great Smoky Mountains, near Cosby,
steep slopes of the large mountains begin around 2600'
Below that level, the land slopes gently north and down to the
around 1800' elevation without major sheltering ridges. Farmers
settled extensively on those broad flats, and the current
suggest the adjacent mountain slopes retain considerable more
Threetop Mountain and Gabes Mountain, the latter actually more
ridge, deviate from that general topographic pattern by jutting
from the main mountain mass. Between them, Hen Wallow Branch
the unusually sheltered, northwest facing, low elevation cove.
Remnants of chimneys and stone walls attest to the extensive use
the lower north-facing slopes within those coves. Tuliptees now
an almost pure overstory on those slopes. Small hemlocks the
understory on the small spur ridges that break up the cove while
striped maples fill in the understory in moister areas, and
rhododendron lines the main stream. On the west side of Threetop
Mountain, above past farming activity, pitch pine and oaks form
canopy of a dense heath layer. The steep, upper slopes on the
side of Gabes Mountain also avoided agricultural use. Cliffs
in several of the subsidiary coves on the slope, and old-growth
remains above them. Below the cliffs, grape vines swarm over
ridges and tuliptrees still dominate the coves. The tuliptrees
larger than the ones farther downslope; and they compete with
silverbells; black walnut; and a few white ash, basswoods, and
maples. The abundance of buckeyes and yellowwoods in the
indicate the richness of the soils below the cliffs. Black
usually grow near low elevation settled areas in the park, and
generally viewed as imports to this part of the park. However,
scarcity of walnuts in the more settled portion of the cove and
frequency of walnuts in the richest area of the cove suggest
be native to the cove.
One north facing side cove on Gabes Mountain had especially
trees. A 57' high cliff and adjacent steep slopes provide the
great sheltering and shade from the south, but the ridges on
side are too low to provide substantial shelter; storms in the
few years felled several overstory trees on the west side of the
Since then, a profusion of young yellow buckeyes and silverbells
grown in the understory. All of the trees listed below, except
113.5' and 132.0' walnuts, grow in this side cove.
Species Cbh Height
Ash, White 11'9.5" 129.2'
Tuliptree NA 154.1'
Walnut, Black NA 113.5'
Walnut, Black 7'9" 127.9'
Walnut, Black 5'9" 132.0'
Walnut, Black 8'0" 136.1'
Walnut, Black 13'9" 144.3'
Yellowwood 7'4" 92.8'
The yellowwood is a potential Tennessee State champion and is
second tallest ENTS has documented. The carcasses of similarly
yellowwoods lay nearby. The previous height record for black
in the Smokies and in Tennessee was 135'. The 13'9" x
individual is a potential Tennessee state champion and the
individual ENTS has found of the species. The tree grows a short
distance up a 38-degree side slope, and arches over a 150' tall
tuliptree growing in the middle of the cove. The short spread is
and the long spread is 127.6', a new record for the species in
east. The great range in the spreads resulted from an
three foot dbh tuliptree that used to grow just upslope from the
Consequently, the crown was only half of a hemisphere. To huge
branches that do not grow fully opposite each other form the