Northampton Pin Oak   Robert Leverett
  Dec 12, 2005 05:13 PST 

On Sunday morning, Monica and I checked out the New England champion
pin oak in Northampton. The tree is described by the Northampton Tree
Committee as being 300 years old. I don't know where their information
comes from. So I can neither confirm nor deny it, but it is an old tree.
I had not previously seen the champ, but when I did today, I was
properly impressed. I measured 3 tops, two of which were slightly over
105 feet. Then, I discovered a 3rd top that exceeds the height of either
of the first two. So, the tree's dimensions are as follows:

   Height:                107.9 feet
   Circumference:      17.4 feet
   Avg Spread:          96 feet (approximately. It may be a little less)
   Big tree Pts:          341

The big Columbus Street pin oak is a single-stemmed tree that branches
about 30 feet up its trunk. It is the current New England champion. It
is a most worthy tree, truly one of many Northampton standouts.

After measuring the pin oak, Monica and I went to a property that I
have reported on before and measured another tulip tree. It's 8.2-foot
circumference is nothing special. However, it makes 130.7 feet in height
and is the 4th 130-footer in the stand.

Northampton is one of the two big tree-tall tree towns in Mass. The
Rucker index of Northampton currently stands at 120.2. I have been
unsure how to compute the Rucker index for a town. Several political
subdivisions are involved and several classes of forests and trees. In
Massachusetts, if we take a town to be the political township, then
Charlemont wins hands down because of MTSF, but it makes no sense to
consider MTSF to be part of Charlemont. So if we take out federal and
state forests and parks from a township, do we base the calculations on
the remaining lands or do we restrict the eligible trees to those in
more of the central town area? The 120.2 index reflects just the in-town
area of Northampton. When Florence is included, which is legally part of
Northampton, the index is 120.4. However, I haven't even dented the
possibilities of Northampton. Its Rucker index will probably eventually
climb to around 121.5.

As winter sets in, I intend to pursue Northampton's Rucker index.
Sometimes I need a swift kick in the pants to become motivated. I think
if Will Blozan and Jess Riddle were here, they would be crowing new
champions weekly. The town is awash in tall native and non-native trees.
There are some dilly Norway spruce, white fir, etc. that may challenge
the best that grow in MTSF and Stockbridge, MA.


Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society