Prong, GSMNP, TN
12, 2006 22:03 PST
In the park's Greenbrier section, Kalanu Prong flows north off
main divide of the Great Smoky Mountains. Despite the lack of a
maintained trail, the stream has for decades been recognized as
the premier big tree sites in the Smokies. That reputation comes
the massive tuliptrees and other large hardwoods that thrive on
flats and adjacent slopes along the creek's lower end. Even
extensive farming occurred just below the creek's mouth,
timber companies never cleared or even highgraded the flats.
Consequently, a forest of large sugar maples, red maples,
silverbells, hemlocks, and tuliptrees remains on the rich,
gentle slopes around 3100' elevation.
Recording of Kalanu Prong's large trees began at least as early
1950's. At that time, Arthur Stupka, the long time park
located a national champion cucumbertree, an 18'6" cbh
giant. As of
the late 1990's, that tree had fallen, but three tuliptrees over
circumference remained on one small section of the creek. Among
tuliptrees, the "Greenbrier Giant" vied for the title
of largest tree
in the park. With the help of Kris Johnson and Tom Remaley from
National Park Service, we took careful measurements of the tree
monocular. Even though the tree maintained a diameter of
approximately six feet for the first 61', one of the unnamed
tuliptrees in the same vicinity has an even larger trunk. The
tuliptree maintains a diameter of over 5.5' for 85' to amass a
volume of 2520 cubic feet. The tree is likely one of the three
largest in the entire mountain range (the Sag Branch tuliptree
larger and the "Mill Creek Monster" is probably very
similar in size).
Kris and Tom also helped us model the largest hemlock seen in
area. The tree grows immediately adjacent to one fork of Kalanu
and at the edge of the rich cove forest. The 15'1" cbh x
tree maintains a diameter of over 3.5' for the first 78'. The
volume totals 1270 cubic feet. The Long Branch hemlock, which
Blozan climbed last year, is the only living hemlock with a
larger trunk; three trees, two in the Smokies and one in
NC, are suspected to be larger, but they have not been measured
Species Cbh Height
Birch, Black 11'6" NA
Buckeye, Yellow NA 130.8'
Buckeye, Yellow 13'6" 142.5'
Buckeye, Yellow 11'5" 142.6'
Hemlock, Eastern 15'1" 152.9'
Maple, Red 12'4" 128.3'
Maple, Sugar 12'5" NA
Pine, Table Mountain 4'0" 96.0'
Sourwood 3'7.5" 107.7'
Tuliptree 20'10" NA
Tuliptree 22'3" 157.1'
Tuliptree 22'10" 146.2' "Greenbrier Giant"
The black birch represents a new park diameter record. The table
mountain pine grows in the old fields along False Gap Prong,
Kalanu Prong flows into, and is a Tennessee height record. The
sourwood grows in the old fields along Woolly Tops Branch, and
Tennessee height record.
Jess Riddle & Will Blozan