Chestnut Grove, Hominy Valley Overlook, BRP  

TOPIC: Chestnut Grove, Hominy Valley Overlook BRP

== 1 of 11 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 8 2008 10:27 am
From: James Parton


Last Thursday while at work Cecil Harris told me of a chestnut he had seen on the Blue Ridge Parkway and tried to give me a rough location of where it was at. Yesterday I went up to try to find it. I checked two overlooks on the right and found no chestnuts but I did find a Chinquapin ( Chinkapin ). It was the first one I had found with nuts in years. However the shrublike tree had considerable blight damage including cankers, dead limbs and the tell-tell orange spots of the fungus. This tree had thinner leaves without the lighter colored underside that I knew from the Chinquapins in our yard from my Starnes Cove days. I have read that open-grown trees versus forest grown ones exibit some differences. Maybe this is one of them.

Allegheny Chinquapin

Chinquapin nuts

I found a grove of nearly a dozen chestnut trees below the Hominy Valley Overlook at 3980ft above sea level. These may be the trees that Cecil saw. They are located in a clearing below the overlook among briar bushes and other weeds. Naturally this made navigating and measuring the trees difficult. All of the chestnuts had considerable blight damage with some having dead stems. However I found two that had managed to bear. However among the burrs I found no nuts. However I noticed that the attachment scars on the inside of some of the burrs was quite large. A possible sign of viable nuts. The fact that they are two nut bearing trees close to one another may mean that cross-pollination could take place. I found no nuts though. Still, critters could have carried them off.

American Chestnut

  American Chestnut

I measured the sprout ring around an old root collar where an old stump once was. It was 9ft 8 1/2in in circumference. This gives me some idea of what size the original tree was before the blight killed the main trunk. It was just over 3ft in diameter!  The largest sprout is 1ft 9 1/2in cbh. The tree sprout is 29.53 feet tall. It is one of the taller ones in the grove. Another tree was measured to 2ft 11in in girth.

The Golden Wood

On the way back home my attention was caught by a grove of bright yellow Tulip Poplars located just above the Chestnut Cove Overlook. I stopped, grabbing my measuring gear and camera and set out into the woods. I first measured two of the taller tulips and took a couple of photos. Afterwards I attempted to climb down a steep hill, falling in the process. It sure seems that falling hurts worse as one gets older!  Stepping down into the grove was an awe inpiring sight. The leaves were so yellow that it was nearly eye-hurting. Among the Tuliptrees were Maples that had a tinge of orange to them. It reminded me so much of the Golden Woods of Lothlorien in LOTR. A truly enchanting place. My pictures did not do the place justice. The Mallorn Trees of Lothlorien closely resemble Beeches. Beeches like Tulip Poplar turn yellow or yellow-orange in the fall.

The first poplar measured was 134.51 feet tall and 7 feet 11 inches in girth. The second measured was 139.60 feet tall and 9 feet 5 1/2 inches in girth. Does anyone in ENTS have any idea of how old these trees would be?  My guess is about 100 years.

James Parton

== 8 of 11 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 8 2008 2:31 pm
From: "Edward Frank"


I don't think that a fair guess could be made about the tuliptrees without any core data from the area at all. I know farther up the ridges along Shenandoah National Park and farther down ridge tops along the Blue Ridge Parkway are dry ridge top forests of oaks. One short and gnarled red oak tree, and one not really that large in girth (around 7 feet), with many bigger ones in the same section, had been cut after falling on the highway had 215 rings. These are primary old-growth forests with no evidence in many of them having ever been cut. Your tuliptrees are just a little farther down slope. They could be young, or they could be old given the context of their location.


== 9 of 11 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 8 2008 2:35 pm
From: James Parton


I would love to have an increment borer and learn how to use it.

The tuliptrees don't have the deep old furrowed bark of the
Cataloochee or Joyce Kilmer old growth specimens.