Prong of Sag Branch 9/8/02
11, 2002 16:50 PDT
ENTS report 9/11/02
Myself and Brian Newsome, an Asheville arborist, explored the
west prong of Sag Branch in Cataloochee, GRSM. Our goal was to
reach and remeasure the Sag Branch Pine which several seasons
ago was measured to 181.5 feet tall. We did not reach the tree
for lack of time but were able to spend concentrated time in a
fantastic hemlock and tuliptree grove. In fact, we only explored
a few hundred yards of the branch and an adjacent cove.
Most of the hemlocks were above 150' tall with the tallest
159.4'. While measuring a dense grove of hemlock I looked to the
west and spotted a huge tuliptree crown and massive trunk. I
roughed the height to over 160' and figured the tree was in
excess of 5 feet in diameter (I was standing by a fallen
tuliptree over 16' in girth). After finishing with the hemlocks
we decided to check the tree out. I stated it would be at least
a 16 foot tree, then an 18' tree, then...Holy Moly! It was
22'5" in girth! I spent 1.5 hours measuring the tree, and
came up with 164.4 feet in height and an average crown spread of
101.5 feet. This totals 459 AF big tree points and secures the
title of the second largest tuliptree by point rating in the
Smokies, second only to Tennessee's Greenbrier Giant standing at
466 points. Using the rangefinder blocks to estimate diameter
aloft and calculate volume, Bob Leverett and I estimate the
volume to be approaching 2900 ft3. This tree is very easy to get
to and will be climbed and measured for volume. Perhaps there
would be interest in a volume competition between TN and NC!
Diameters on the big tulip (unnamed) were as follows:
Lowest point above roots: 25.1"
4.5 feet above midslope: 22.45'
28" above dbh" 20.41'
72.38' above midslope: 16.5'
84.11' above midslope: 13.6'
102.66' above midslope: 11.73'
Limbs were massive, and crown spread in one direction was 113'.
Other notable trees in the same grove:
Northern red oak 8'3" x 129.5'
Chestnut oak 12'5" x 130.1'
Tuliptree 10'1" x 154.9'
Hemlock 11'3" x 143.4'
Hemlock 10'7" x 155.4'
Hemlock 11.4" x 155.2'
Hemlock 10'8" x 149.7'
Hemlock 10'11" x 159.4'
Hemlock 12'5" x 147.6'
Hemlock 9'8" x 151.1'
Hemlock 12'8" x 150.8'
Hemlock 10'7" x 151.3'
Hemlock 11'3" x 150.7'
Hemlock 11'8" x 142.4'
Hemlock 12' x 149'
These numbers once again confirm that 150 hemlocks are common,
but above 155 infrequent, and above 160', scarce. Most
tuliptrees were around 140' tall, but I was admittedly
distracted by the hemlocks which were in very good form and
On the way out we stopped and looked at the Boogerman Pine. The
6X optics on my rangefinder revealed at least a 6" candle
of new growth this year. Its current height should be right
around 186 feet now. There is still much more to survey on Sag
Branch. Dale, can you come help? Only a few hour day trip from
11, 2002 16:03 PDT
As far as I know, the new tuliptree found on Sag Branch last
weekend is the only tree of its size class (22'+) that has been
discovered in many, many years. I think that all the big trees
like the Greenbrier Giant, Mill Creek Monster, and those on
Kalanu Prong, Albright Grove, and Collins Creek have been in
Park records for decades. Would you agree, Kris? I know of no
records of this tree.
West Prong of Sag Branch 9/8/02
11, 2002 20:05 PDT
The fact that you will be climbing to document the tree's
greatness is awesome! While in Victoria we climbed and mapped in
three dimensions every branch on nine giant Eucalyptus regnans.
These included trees over 300' tall and 3m in diameter. On these
trees, 92% of the total wood volume was in the main trunk, 6% in
large branches, and 2% in small branches and twigs (this last
category was subsampled to obtain the total). The architecture
of the Liriodendron will probably reduce the trunk volume to
80-85% of the total. Perhaps even less on trees with huge
crowns. I can send you our branch mapping protocol if
Six feet thick at 40' up... of all eastern trees, only the
Senator can also make such a claim!!!
West Prong of Sag Branch 9/8/02
12, 2002 04:13 PDT
Will, et al.:
If we assume 15% of the volume of limbs
for the Sag Branch Collossus,
which seems more reasonable, then the volume becomes 3,024 cubic
is more in keeping with our calculations for the Greenbrier
Giant and Mill
Creek Monster. We can now claim 4 trees measured to over 3,000
cubic feet in
the East: the three Smoky Mountain Tuliptrees and the Senator
Florida. I assume that there are other bald cypresses with will
3,000 cubic feet in the East.
A most worthy ENTS project/mission would
be to scout out and document
the 3,000-cubic footers in the East. Sponsorship by American
be most appropriate. It would be an opportunity for them to
initiative in breaking the strangler hold that their own
National Register of Big Trees, has on the documentation of our
most charismatic of plant species. While the Register can
continue to serve
a useful function, its dominance should be relegated to a page
In the West, American Forests should
adopt the trees of each species
that Bob Van Pelt measures as the most voluminous for their
species - no
questions asked. After all, listing a tree of smaller volume as
of its species simply makes no sense when you have the world's
measurers to arbitrate disputes. I'm sure our friend Karen Fedor
Forests agrees, but she may have her hands tied by people above
her. If so,
it is time for them to wake up. For those who have recently
joined our list,
I will attempt explain the big tree competition mess in a future