Wadakoe Mountain    Jess
   Dec 09, 2002 07:00 PST 
Wadakoe Mountain rises approximately 900 feet above the surrounding
terrain of northwestern South Carolina to a height of 1865'. Two broad,
gently inclined, parallel ridges form the mountain. Narrow coves cut into
the sides of these ridges while more exposed steep coves occur on the
north end of the mountain. While the multiple geological formations
intersect near the mountain, fine grained amphibolite underlies all of the
tall tree areas on the mountain. White pine and hemlock are abundant at
the south end of the mountain and other pines grow at a few spots on the
ridges, but the rest of the forest on the mountain is entirely deciduous.
White oak is the most common canopy species on the mountain, but a wide
variety of hardwoods grow in the coves. Both black walnut and red elm are
common in the coves while beech is unusually abundant along the stream for
the southeast. Also along the stream, yellow buckeye grows as a midstory
species. Dogwood and redbud are the most widespread understory species,
but bigleaf snowbell, carolina buckthorn, paw paw, and spicebush are
locally abundant. The canopy height is probably only in the 110's on most
of the mountain, but small concentrations of exceptionally tall trees
occur in sections of many of the coves.

Species Cbh Height Watershed DOM
Basswood, White 7'5" 107.6' Peach Orchard Branch 12/7/02
Basswood, White 9'8" Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Beech, American 121.5' Peach Orchard Branch 9/28/02
Beech, American 114.2' Eastatoe Creek 11/23/02
Blackhaw, Rusty 1'1.5" Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Hickory, Bitternut 8'5.5" 131.0' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Hickory, Mockernut 6'6" 136.6' Peach Orchard Branch 12/7/02
Locust, Black 7'5" 123.5' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Maple, Chalk 2'0.5" Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Maple, Chalk 2'0" 55.4' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Oak, Black >115.5'Jewell Branch 12/7/02
Oak, Chestnut 7'3.5" 125.5' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Oak, Chestnut 91.3' Clearwater Branch 12/7/02
Oak, Northern Red 6'11" 141.1' Jewell Branch 12/7/02
Oak, Northern Red 7'9.5" 119.9' Peach Orchard Branch 12/7/02
Oak, White 129.7' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Oak, White 6'10.5" 127.9' Peach Orchard Branch 9/28/02
Oak, White 8'10" 127.5' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Redbud, Eastern 1'7" 52.4' Clearwater Branch 12/7/02
Redbud, Eastern 2'11" Clearwater Branch 12/7/02
Spicebush 10" 21.8' Clearwater Branch 12/7/02
Sweetgum 8'4" 126.7' Jewell Branch 12/7/02
Tuliptree 155.3' Jewell Branch 12/7/02
Tuliptree 148.1' Peach Orchard Branch 4/6/02
Tuliptree 144.8' Jewell Branch 12/7/02
Tuliptree 10'1" 141.0' Eastatoe Creek 4/6/02
Tuliptree 140.6' Eastatoe Creek 4/6/02
Walnut, Black 3'11" 110.1'+ Peach Orchard Branch 12/7/02
Walnut, Black 7'7" Eastatoe Creek 11/23/02
Walnut, White 5'3" 102.2' Peach Orchard Branch 12/7/02
Walnut, White 4'6" 91.2' Peach Orchard Branch 12/7/02

The mockernut is only the second individual of that species to be
measured at over 135'. The northern red oak becomes the fifth one in the
140' height class. One area just off of the crest of main ridge of the
mountain may support multiple white oaks over 130' waiting to be measured.
Both the redbuds and spicebush are surprisingly large to be growing in a
narrow cove. Most of the tuliptrees in the cove at the top of Jewell
branch look to be in the 140's, but several more 150'+ tuliptrees are
probably scattered amongst them. The 155.3' tree becomes only the second
tuliptree in SC away from Station Mountain to reach 150'. With more
measuring, a handful of 115-120' black walnuts should be found. The two
white walnuts are among the healthiest I have seen.
I remeasured a pair of pignut hickories on Saturday that I first measured
last April. My initial measurements of the pignuts, which grow on either
side of the mockernut listed above, left me a bit incredulous. The 9'0.5"
cbh hickory measured 153.5' and the much younger 6'4" cbh tree measured
150.2'. Taking more time on Saturday to obtain accurate readings to the
bases, two separate tops of the larger tree measured 151.8' and 151.4'.
The more slender tree now appears to be the taller of the two at 152.6'.
The younger tree is probably growing more rapidly, but its top appears
susceptible to future storms. The pair now in a three way tie with a tree
on Mill Creek in the Smokies for tallest known pignut hickory.
The Rucker index for Wadakoe is now 134.35', without the aid of any
conifers. Once white ash and white pine are included I expect the index
will rise to around 138'. 140' is not out of the question. Much of the
mountain is still unexplored, especially on the north side. Two adjacent
mountains that have not been searched at all may have similar soils.
Needless to say, I will be making several more trips to the area early
next year.

Jess Riddle
Wadakoe Mountain    Jess Riddle
   Feb 27, 2003 21:21 PST 

        A few weekends ago I spent a day looking at new coves on the west
and north slopes of Wadakoe Mountain in northwestern SC. The extremely
rich soils present elsewhere on the mountain continue onto the north
side, but steep slopes occupy the richest and moistest areas. Windthrow
has also opened up large sections of the canopy. The canopy is fairly
diverse with tuliptree, pignut hickory, bitternut hickory, white oak,
black locust, and white basswood all being common. Beech, white ash,
northern red oak, yellow buckeye, mockernut hickory, black walnut, and
red elm are less frequent canopy species. On the north side of the
mountain, canopy composition and topography are surprisingly weakly
correlated. While buckeye grows only in the middle of the coves and
white oak and mockernut hickory are restricted to the slopes and ridges,
the rest of the species listed above grow in both the coves and on top of
one of the ridges. The rich ridge that separates two groups of coves has
unusual topography. On one side, the ridge drops away at over 40
degrees, but a series of alternating short, steep slopes and small
benches for the other side of the ridge.

Species                        Height            Cbh
Ash, white                    119.3'            8'9"
Beech                           119.7'
Beech                           129.4'            9'8"
Buckeye, Yellow         107.5'            7'3"
Buckeye, Yellow         112.2'
Elm, Red                      112.9'            5'5.5"
Hickory, Bitternut            116.1'            5'7"
Hickory, Mockernut            131.2'            7'8"
Hickory, Pignut             126.2'            7'10"
Hickory, Pignut             134.5'            7'8"
Locust, Black               130.4'            6'11"
Oak, White                  129.0'            7'6"
Sycamore                     116.6'            6'9"
Tuliptree                       136.5'
Tuliptree                       160.2'            7'3"
Yellowwood                 78.3'            4'2"

        I nearly walked right past the 160' tuliptree without noticing
how tall the tree was. Shooting straight up in an adjacent tree yielded
45 yards. A assumed the two trees were close in height, and continued up
the cove. Looking back I saw that the tree towered above its neighbor.
The tree has unusual crown structure, and the long limbs of the crown
appear to be continuing upward even though they are well above the
surrounding canopy. The tree is the sixth tuliptree I know of in SC to
exceed 160'. The yellowwoods on Wadakoe are the only ones I've seen in
SC, and one of only two stands I have heard of in the state. The buckeye
is the third tallest I know of in SC, and the locust is the second

Jess Riddle

Wadakoe Mountain (lower slopes)   Jess Riddle
  Sep 28, 2003 06:17 PDT 

Yesterday I visited several of the small coves on the lower slopes of
Wadakoe Mountain in northern SC. Most of these shallow coves face north
and open into the broad, cleared flats of Eastatoe Creek at 950'
elevation. The two drainages that I had previously explored the lower
parts of lead me to think that the lower elevations were drier and less
rich that the upper slopes of the mountain. This situation turned out to
be the case in all but one pair of coves, which was sheltered by
relatively high, steep ridges. Beech, pignut hickory, mockernut hickory,
and tuliptree were the most abundant canopy species with some white oak,
chestnut oak, bitternut hickory, and sweetgum. Black walnut and white
ash, which are common on the upper slopes, are absent from the lower coves.

Species Cbh Height
Ash, white 6'3.5" 135.3'
Beech 4'10" 108.8'
Beech    NA 108.8+
Beech 8'9" 116.3+
Hickory, Bitter 3'10" 113.6' 91:1 H/D
Hickory, Mock 5'0.5" 111.6'
Hickory, Mock 5'2" 118.6'
Hickory, Pignut 9'11.5" ~118' Upper slope
Hickory, Red 7'7.5" ~125' Upper slope, distinctive tree
Locust, Black NA 136.2+
Maple, Red 6'6" 102.6+
Oak, Chestnut 5'8" ~119'
Oak, Chestnut NA 121.7'
Oak, White 6'8" ~125'
Persimmon 3'2" 103.6' 103:1 H/D
Sweetgum 5'4" 122.0'
Tuliptree 5'8" 140.8+
Tuliptree NA 146.7+
Tuliptree 6'8" 151.3+

Several of the tree need to be remeasured in winter when crown and base
visibility is better. Two of the tuliptree bases where obscured by a paw
paw thicket. The white ash puts the Rucker Index for the site over 138'.
The locust is the second tallest I've measured in the state and may be
over 140'. The red maple and persimmon are the 23rd and 24th species on
the mountain I've measured over 100', which is the most I know of for any
Appalachian site south of the Smokies.

Jess Riddle
Re: Wadakoe Mountain (lower slopes)   Jess Riddle
  Oct 06, 2003 18:58 PDT 
I've attached a small spreadsheet for the sites in South Carolina that
we've measured enough species at to compute a Rucker Index, but a few
fairly significant sites have been left off due to lack of data. The top
seven species on Rich Mountain, in the Chauga River drainage, average
128.77', so mid 120's is likely for the site. The seven tallest species
in a series of coves south of Station Cove average 135.43'. Adding three
more species will bring the index down some, but taller individuals of the
presently included species will likely offset most of this loss.
Brasstown Creek, in the Brevard Fault Zone near the Georgia state line,
has not been sampled at all. I think that creek is the most likely
unexplored area to have an index comparable to Wadakoe Mountain or

Jess Riddle


South Carolina Rucker Index
Site Approximate acreage Rucker Site Index Tallest Tree (ft) Largest Cbh (in)
Little Pinnacle Mountain 500 122.91 136.1 148
Otter Creek 250 125.13 144.0 115.5
Long Cane Creek 600 128.96 138.0 188
Wadakoe Mountain 800 138.92 161.1 209
Congaree Swamp 15010 142.00 167.2 313
Station Mountain 800 146.29 169.1 131


Re: Wadakoe Mountain (lower slopes)   Colby Rucker
  Oct 06, 2003 19:52 PDT 

Great information. I was curious about the acreage at these sites, so have
added that to our index list (attached). I see that I'm a bit low for
Station Mountain, high for Long Cane/Big Curltail, and two points off for
Wadakoe. Looks like I've missed a few of your trees. Can you fill me in?

Will be interesting to see what you get along Brevard. You expect some
great soils, right?


Re: Wadakoe Mountain (lower slopes)   Jess Riddle
  Oct 10, 2003 14:35 PDT 

The discrepancy for Long Cane Creek stems from which species grow at the
site. I original thought that either pin oak or shumard oak grew at the;
pin oak's range ends several miles to the north and the oak is in fact a
shumard. Replacing the 130.4 pin oak, with 116.0 for shumard gives the
index I listed. The 130.4' tree was an unrelated cherrybark oak. Both
Station Mountain and Wadakoe mountain have benefited from more recent
findings. Wadakoe mountain now includes 136.2' black locust, 135.3' white
ash, and an odd 131.2' bitternut hickory (formally identified as a
mockernut). A new 146.8' pignut hickory and a 143.4' black locust have
been located at Station Mountain.
I more hoping than expecting to find rich soils in the Brasstown Creek
section of the Brevard Belt. The areas of the Brevard Belt that I've seen
so far are very variable in soil quality. I think Station Cove in SC and
some Panther Creek coves in Georgia have among the richest soils of any
sites I've ever visited, but adjacent coves at Panther Creek and areas
just north of Tamassee Knob have acidic soils and mediocre growing
conditions. I'm hoping Brasstown Creek will have more coves like the
circumneurtral Panther Creek coves.

Jess Riddle
Wadakoe Mountain   Jess Riddle
  Nov 01, 2004 12:46 PST 

The calcium and magnesium rich bedrock of Wadakoe Mountain help the small
peak at the edge of the Appalachians in northern South Carolina support
exceptionally diverse forests. Almost the entire mountain was cleared
once, but never farmed. The extremely narrow section along the drainage
and the steep upper rim may have helped one cove on west side of the
mountain receive only a selective cut. The small flat area between the
forks of the drainage, a bench on one ridge, and the forks of the drainage
all support impressive trees. Rich soils and very sheltering topography
probably make the greatest contributions to supporting the tall trees in
the cove. The rich soils also support high diversity in all layers of the
canopy. Eupatorium, goldenrods, black cohosh, canada violet, maidenhair
fern, wood nettle, and glade fern among other cover the forest floor. In
a few spots, spicebush and sweetshrub block out the herbaceous plants, but
they more frequently mix with slippery elm, flowering dogwood, and redbud.
Hoptree and mock orange occupy the same position as those species on some
thin soiled sections of the cove. The overstory is similarly mixed with
white ash sharing room with white basswood, pignut hickory, tuliptree,
chesnut oak, and northern red oak. Lianas, including poison ivy, grape
vines, and virginia creeper, occasionally tie the canopy layers together.
Overall, the mountain supports at least 60 species that can reach tree
size, and two new species of herbaceous plants were recently discovered

The dogwood, blackjack oak, and downy serviceberry grow on one of the
mountains two main ridges. The white pine, a species restricted to the
edges of the mountain, grows along a stream at the foot of the mountain.
All of the other trees listed below grow in the cove described above.

Species Cbh Height Comment
Walnut, white 4'7" 95.7' Third on mountain confirmed over 90'
Silverbell 4'8" 82.0'
Serviceberry 11" 19.4' Downy, small species in SC
Pine, white 8'10" 137.1'
Oak, blackjack 3'10" 62.6' Greenville likely has taller
Dogwood 1'11" 43.3' Beside blackjack oak
Cherry, black 6'11" 108.1' over 100' rare in SC
Ash, White 9'7" 143.9'
Ash, White 11'3" 144.3' Potential state champion
Ash, White 8'6" 153.4' Tallest known in state

Previously, a white ash on the East Fork of the Chattooga was the only one
in the state confirmed at over 150'. The ash appear to still be growing
at a rate of 6" to 8" a year. The white ash and white pine move the
Rucker Index for the site up to 141.37', the third highest in the state
behind the Congaree and Tamassee Knob.

Jess Riddle