Wolf Trees Ed Frank
July 24, 2009


I know what a "Wolf Tree" is.  It is a large tree with characteristics of having been grown in the open in a wooded setting surrounded by much younger and generally smaller trees.  The wolf tree typically has a fat girth with low heavy branches typical of open grown trees.  perhaps it was left behind to grow in an open field or similar circumstance.

What I am wondering is why it is called a "Wolf Tree"?    (For those of you with regional speech impediments the word wolf has an l in it that should be pronounced.  A woof is a noise a dog makes when barking.)

Ed Frank

Mike Leonard, July 24, 2009 wrote:


Wolves have a reputation of gobbling up everything around them. Wolf
trees gobble up a lot of growing space in the forest that could go to
other trees.

From the Dictionary of Forestry: Wolf Tree - a generally predominant or
dominant tree with a broad, spreading crown, that occupies more growing
space than its more desirable neighbors.

Around my neck of the woods, wolf trees are usually very large and bony
multi-forked white pine trees that would cost much more to process into
any sawlogs than what a conventional logger could make from a mill. So
they were often left in the woods. Good foresters would have many of
these ugly monsters girdled but now we have a biomass market where the
big monster machines can chip junk wood up to 30 inches in diameter.
Other trees can be wolf trees to such as hemlock and various hardwoods.
Recently I marked some huge red maple wolf trees as well as a giant ash
wolf tree. Nasty trees they were! I also girdled a few hemlock wolf
trees on my woodlot.

Crooked loggers would frequently tell landowners that they were leaving
these wolf trees behind as "seed trees" while of course cutting all the
nice straight valuable trees.

Do the same backwards people who pronounce wolf "woof" also pronounce
roof so it rhymes with "woof"? I'm amazed that there are so many
semi-literate people in America who like to butcher the English
language! Roof is pronounced like in the song "Up on the Roof"!



This is a "wolf" tree I encountered a few years ago working on a timber sale in Preston County, WV.  The tree was a little over 62" DBH or around 16.25' CBH.  It isn't the biggest tree I have enountered here by a long shot but it is one I have a photo of.  The tree is still there.

The largest yellow poplar wolf I have encountered was nearly 18.5' CBH.


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