a somewhat ill-fated trip to the Giant Forest...   Brandon Gallagher
  Apr 02, 2007 13:32 PDT 

Last week I had the pleasure being in Sequoia National Forest for some
work-related research. I was giddy to get up the big trees but
unfortunately it snowed a ton the night before I was visiting so the
road up the famous ones was closed. I was bummed for a while but it
turned out to be great...it gave me the opportunity to explore areas of
the forest I would have likely not gone into otherwise. The California
redbuds were in full bloom so the south slopes looked like the Smokies
when the rhodos are out...unbelievably gorgeous! For the big tree geeks
out there I brought my D-tape (no clinometer, unfortunately) and
measured some remarkable trees.

Largest tree I came across: 54" Incense Cedar. This was the first of
these I've ever seen in the wild, a very cool stand at about 5000'. Many
of the trees were in this stand were in the 35"+ size class. It was
dripping snow in pretty large chunks while I was there. I had a hard
time keeping my camera lens dry!

ca_blueoak.jpg (96468 bytes)

Down the slope several thousand feet I explored many of the blue oak
groves (Q. douglasii). These trees were on impossibly steep slopes that
were a real physical challenge to reach. These slopes were so steep that
the lowest branches on a 35" tree would be hitting the hill on the
upslope side! I measure several in the 30+ range with a local champ of
42". These numbers do not do justice to the massive sizes these trees
had compared to their neighbors. It was quite a sight to see. I also
measured several ancient valley oaks (Q. lobata) and interior live oaks
(Q wislizeni). The largest, respectively, was 40" and 27". Valley oak is
a protected species in central CA, requiring a gov permit to even
deadwood prune them. For that reason there would be curiously large
specimen trees in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot where normally
they would be removed. I drove by a grove of valley oaks while driving
back to LAX that would have dwarfed the trees I had measured thus far
had I had the time to stop. There's always next time....

I doubt these trees I measured are close to CA state champs (haven't
looked yet) but it was a great way to occupy a day and still get to see
some big plants, even though the weren't technically 'giants'! I'll send
some pix to the website in the next few day...some nice trees there.


Brandon Gallagher Watson
Plant Healthcare Specialist