Philadelphia area trees, Henry Foundation in Gladwyne, and National Lands Trust WAWA Preserve
  Dec 14, 2005 17:37 PST 

Today I visited several National champion trees to report to American forests for the new publication. There was good news and bad news.

The first tree I visited was Gleditsia aquatica. I had never seen one of these before today. Very cool tree. The seed pod is the identifying feature, it is shaped kind of like an eye with one seed inside. The tree had been trimmed by the utility company, but stands in good health

121"cbh 74' tall 63 avg spread for 211 points. it was 110"cbh 74' tall 73'spd in 1993 for 202 points.

I then wandered down the road a ways to the Franklinia alatamaha. It has decided to abandon it's larger leaders, and focus on growing out instead of up. The original measurers took the liberty of measuring this tree around the base, and not at 4.5'. The tree branches very low to the ground. Here are the current, correct measurements.

42"cbh 33' tall 40' average spread for 85 points. It was 78"cbh at 6" before and had 126 points.

Next I went to the Henry Foundation in Gladwyne, to measure the Magnolia ashei. This intersting property has 50 acres of plants collected in the 1920's from what was then the horticultural frontier. the southern midwest. Many native plants from Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and the like were brought to Pa to see how they would survive. The ones that did were then propagated and selected from to introduce new cultivars. The original pink form of Halesia monticola is on the property, along with many magnolias. There are many hybrids on this property that may be the only one of their kind. The bad news is the Magnolia ashei had blown over two years ago. The good news is that htere was another one that may take it's place.

62" cbh 44' tall 44' avg spd for 117 points. the previous champ had 116 points in 1993.

Some other interesting plants that I measured were:

Carya ovalis var obcordata 124"cbh 92.3' tall 63' spd for 232 points

Quercus mohriana 49"cbh 41.3' tall 33' avg spd for 98 points

Magnolia kobus var borealis 86" cbh 45' tall 66' avg spd for 148 points.

There were many other odd ball species there that I did not have time to measure. I saw a Halesia parviflora, a Crataegus spathulata, a Torreya, a big Arizona cypress, many intersting Aesculus sylvatica. One looked like a contorted filbert. This place is amazing. If you are in the area, a visit is worthwhile. An appointment is needed.

My day continued with a visit to a Natural Lands Trust property called the Wawa preserve. Wawa is the native american name for the canadian goose. Wawaset is the area where the corporation Wawa has there headquarters. They operate the nicest convenience/gas stores in the area. Rocky Run Creek runs through the 77 acre property, surrounded by a mature forest of beech, red oak, sycamore, poplar, gum, and walnut. This forest and the tall-grass meadows that are also present on the preserve support deer, fox, small mammals and a variety of grassland and interior-nesting birds, while the stream provides important aquatic habitat. I did not find many species worth measuring. The larger trees grow on the steep banks of Rocky Run. The overstory consisted mainly of Tulip poplar with white ash, beech, hickory, and red oak mixed in very sparsely. The understory consisted of juveniles of the same species, with red maple, dogwood, and spicebush pitching in. The deer have browsed heavily in this area, and invasive plants have a secure foothold on the property. I did see a pair of great horned owls and several whitetail deer while measuring. Barring the 20 degree temps, I came up with the following list of trees.

Beech          107.2 x 11.4
Beech          110.1 x 12.1
Mockernut   109.5 x 6.3
Red oak       111.7 x 11.1
Red oak       114.5 x 12.9
White oak    101.7 x 11.5
White ash     109.1 x 9.0
White ash     108.9 x 10.4
Tulip             111.3 x 8.9
Tulip             132.3 x 12.4
Tulip             137.4 x 13.1
Tulip             97 x 10.5
Tulip             129 x 10.2
Tulip             137.4 x 12.6
Tulip             134.1 x 10.9
Tulip             120.6 x 10.5
Tulip             132.0 x 12.4
Tulip             117.2 x 12.2

rucker index for six species is 113.7'

This patch of forest was not very diverse. I saw no black walnut, sour gum, or other hickories as mentioned on the website. There was only one Mockernut that I could find to measure. There were alot of tiny hickories coming up, so someone must have removed the larger hardwoods at some point. Tulip poplar dominated the woods with about 70-80% of the trees being this species. It was nice to be in the woods in the cold with a full moon overhead. A great day off from work.

Re: Philadelphia area trees (National champs)   Jess Riddle
  Dec 16, 2005 16:16 PST 

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the report on the Pennsylvania national champs. The water
locust sounds quite impressive. I've only seen the species in the
wild once, and it was nowhere near the size of that open grown tree.
I remember the franklinia from photos in past calendars. Measuring
that tree at the ground was ridiculous. I'm glad you've set the
record straight on that one. The magnolias sound cool too.