On Sunday we visited the Pine Plains sycamore to begin the tree
modeling process. Monica positioned herself at the base of the
her paper and read and communed. Holly took digital images and
the great tree’s stature. I fiddled with measuring equipment,
preliminary measurements, and quickly came to the realization
complicated Pine Plains sycamore is going to take at least 3
extended visits, and without a good sketch of the tree's
identify what needs to be measured, what has been measured, and
needs to be re-measured, forget it. So, I switched gears and
rough sketch of the trunk and big limbs and then resumed the
process. Later, Holly will make a more detailed, better scaled
That assignment fits her well because she is an artist. BTW,
in historic Woodstock, NY, on the slope of the Catskills. Holly
plenty of relatives in Woodstock and she gave Monica and I a
tour on Sunday AM. It would have been a grand tour, but I was
about getting to the Pine Plains sycamore. We got to the tree at
so there was plenty of time, had I been better prepared.
Pine Plains Sycamore, 2001
I'll relate as much information as I gleaned from the first
Total height: 114.7'
(individual measurements range
from 114.0 to 115.2 ft)
Girth at ground level: 28.0'
Girth at 4.5 feet: 26.5'
Girth at 6.3 feet: 27.3'
(The monocular gave the equivalent of 26.7' at the point of
The huge tree is thicker at right angles to the above
will give rise to a second set of measurements at right angles
Average crown spread: 141.1'
Maximum spread: 146.0'
The point of separation of the limbs from the trunk where the
clearly separate comes at approximately 12 feet above the base.
below 12 feet where there is solid wood throughout, the diameter
Pine Plains tree is over 10 feet. Probably 11. There are 5 huge
The following information covers the measurements taken, plus an
Limb# Girth Where
(at start. Limb broken off long ago. remainder about
(about 5 feet above the point with trunk separation.
Separation point not visible from vantage point)
measured (at least 12.5 feet)
The limbs of this great tree repeatedly divide. At 19 feet,
first major division, limb #1 is still 12.6 feet around. At 26
above a minor division, limb #4 is 11.7 feet around. There is a
wood in the Pine Plains sycamore.
Just eye-balling the tree, my guess is that its total trunk-limb
is between 2300 and 2800 cubic feet. I suppose it is possible
total trunk-limb volume could go a little higher than the 2800,
really don't think so from discussions with Will of what kinds
dimensions lead to 3000 cubes and more. My best guess at this
2400 cubes for the Pine Plains sycamore. Regardless, the Pine
Sycamore is one of the great Northeastern trees. And there are
twists and turns and limb divisions that it challenges us to
We will have to parse this tree into many parts and work on it
limb at a
I look very forward to developing an accurate model of the Pine
sycamore. Its rural setting is ideal. The road by the cornfield
it sets is not busy. One does not have to contend with gawkers,
A big challenge in modeling huge, spreading trees altogether
ground is that one must shift back and forth among multiple
get full visibility of each object being measured. The best plan
first sketch the tree, decide on where to take measurements, and
number the points on the drawing. Then one simply chooses a
sticks with it until it has been satisfactorily measured. The
target might be the lower trunk. There after, a short section of
limb to a point of separation is a logical next step. Areas of
division are always problematic because of the changes in
the changes in cross sectional form. Often there is a veritable
explosion of limbs from a common point, with one or more limbs
With all the variables to contend with, initially, it is easy to
overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the measuring challenge.
inclined to try to do too much at one time. A point worth
that modeling huge spreading hardwoods is truly a world apart
modeling compact, columnar pines and hemlocks. If regular
shapes characterize forest-grown pines and hemlocks, the lack
characterize the big spreading hardwoods. So, volume modeling of
hardwoods can never be the province of simple log-oriented
mensuration techniques that treat the object to be measured as a
composite of simple forms that lend themselves to a quick
process. Therefore, the newly spawned ENTS applied branch of
that we'll call dendromorphometry is poles apart from forest
mensuration. One cannot be substituted for the other. One is not
subset or superset of the other.
Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society