I have been fortunate to have been able to accompany Jess Riddle
on two tree
hunts in the Smokies in past the few months. One was to Collins
US 441 near the Cherokee Reservation. The other, last weekend,
was an epic
trek into middle Deep Creek, specifically the drainage of
near Bryson City, NC. Both drainages were reported to have some
forests even though they were in the midst of intense logging in
The vast majority of this drainage was cut over and heavy
evident by no relic trees and numerous skid roads. However, one
section was left uncut and some fine trees remain. One tree in
that we went to see was a huge tuliptree that Jess found that he
felt may be
close in volume to some of the larger tuliptrees currently
known. He found
the tree, and it was around 23' in girth but had excessive basal
We figured the tree had ~2500 ft3 or less and took no further
However, on the way up Jess spotted a fairly large Allegheny
(4'7") that looked very tall. I went upslope and with the
it's height to 108.8'- a new ENTS record for the species. Three
known over 100' tall. No other exceptional trees, but very nice
huge (15'+) northern red oak had a giant root that snaked down
the slope for
a distance of 25' or so, and I will send a photo to Ed to post.
HWA was so
heavy that not a SINGLE understory tree- not even a 2" tall
uninfested. Here are the other trees:
Red oak stitch. Tree on Collins Creek ~ 15'+ girth.
10'2" X 156.2'
8'11" X 156.3'
10'9" X 141.1'
Northern red oak
10'2" X 140.1'
11'11" X 137.7'
4'11" X 128.9'
Upper Baxter Creek 7/10/04
This was a trip by myself to revisit a few trees I had not seen
in a long
time, and to photograph a new red maple state champion nominee
posted by ED on the ENTS site). I remeasured of a huge black
birch (9'10" X
101') I had not seen since 1993. It has not grown since then and
should be a
NC State Champion or co-champion. I also found a large Fraser
may be a new state record, although Rob Messick likely has a
larger one from
Mackey Mountain, I believe.
Some other incidental trees:
5'5" X 78' X 52'
8' X 108.3' X 44'
Dancing Branch 8/14/04
While searching for the trailhead for Noland Divide I spotted a
persimmon that may well be a new NC State Champion. At
6'10" It is by far
the largest I have seen in NC and nearly the largest I have ever
for a big one in Knoxville, TN. The girth rivals those in
Congaree Swamp NP,
although its 71' height is unexceptional.
6' 10" girth. Possible NC State Champion.
reaches of Dancing
Branch has numerous large hop-hornbeams up to 3'11" in
girth, but nothing we
saw would rival the huge one (5'7" X 64') on the Hemphill
Bald Trail that
Michael Davie and I measured years ago. On the way to the
"good stuff" Jess
and I measured a beautiful black birch, which at 7' in girth,
reached a near
record height of 114'9". Further down, to our dismay, it
appeared that most
of the big trees had been cut, with numerous American chestnut
evident with no logs present. A total lack of older tuliptree
selective logging, and very few, if any, large commercially
were present. However, the remnant tree recovery was great, and
height records or near records were found.
was a huge,
perfectly formed 11'11" cucumber magnolia that stood at a
new record height
of 148' even. Terminal growth evident on the tree will likely
yield a 150'
tree in two good growing seasons.
11'11' girth, new eastern height record.
Next to this tree was a beautiful northern
red oak (9'9") that reached a height of 146'-the second
tallest known in the
Smokies. Next to it was a tuliptree of modest girth of 9'1"
170.1'. Further downstream in a gorgeous grove by the creek,
tuliptree (9'4") soared to 172.1'.
Next to it
was an eastern hemlock (11'7")
that is now a new Smokies height record at 168.1' (an average of
measurements with a range of 14"-- .6% error range-- the
168.1' tall Smokies living tree height record.
Record tsca base.
Jess Riddle at base of new Smokies eastern hemlock height record of
Four other hemlocks in the grove reached 149.8', 10'2" X
156.7', 9'11" X
156.9' and 12'1" X 159.3'. A tuliptree in the midst of the
11'2" X 167.4'. The hemlock woolly adelgid has a firm grip
on the drainage
and most hemlocks looked really poor.
I am kind of getting bummed that the 177' height ceiling for
170' ceiling for hemlock may not be breached. It seems that
EVERY tall tree
of these species falls within a very short range of each other,
and I wonder
if we will ever find the "freak show" tree that
rewrites the books. For the
hemlock, the book is likely closed, and tuliptree may hold some
but I am anxious to find them!
Jess, feel free top add to the descriptions, as you do so well!