The noble ash tree   Robert Leverett
  Nov 02, 2004 10:11 PST 

Jess and Will:

   Our hats are off to the two of you for giving us some ceiling numbers
form Fraxinus americana. Jess, you trumped my weekend finds by quite a
bit. However, the Trout Brook ash trees are mere seedlings. They have
lots of growing left to do. If were ever going to get a 150-footer in
Mohawk, I think the Trout Brook drainage will be the place where that

   When Jani and I first moved to New England, I noticed the white ashes
with their unusual fall color change sequence. Their foliage seemed
delicate and feathery. I didn't know where the ash fit into the tall
tree hierarchy in those days and didn't really see their heights with a
discerning eye.

    Twenty-nine years later the ash trees are the lords of the
Berkshire hardwoods. They top the sugar maples, northern red oaks, and
American beeches by 10 to 15 feet and sometimes nearly 20. Yet their
relatively light furrowing, gray-white bark, and feathery foliage still
imparts a delicate appearance.

    For a period of time, it looked like the southern Appalachians were
going to play second fiddle to the northern Appalachians for at least
this one species. They Will broke 150, followed by 160, and now Jess has
broken 150. The southern ashes soar and surpass their northern brethren
by 10 to 20 feet.

    Whether of the white or green variety, the ash is a noble species
worthy of all the accolades given it by Donald Culross Peattie. However,
as fine as our northeastern ash trees are, I feel cheated that we don't
have the third species, the blue ash. Now, that is one classy tree. I
presume they require limey soil. I've been thinking about getting and
planting one. Does anybody have any words of wisdom about the blue ash?


RE: Ash   Dale J. Luthringer
  Nov 02, 2004 17:56 PST 


I am amazed at your white ash up there. It kicks the snot out of all my
western PA glaciated sites. The best ash I've seen so far is in
Ricketts Glen. Your description of the ash at Ice Glen sounds
comparable to the best I've seen at Ricketts. I haven't broke 140 for
ash there yet, but the odds point to one being there somewhere. The
last grove I was in on my last trip there had many over 120 with a few
in the 130's. In time, I'd put money on one of us finding a 140 class
ash in there somewhere. I didn't fully survey that entire stand either,
ran out of daylight.


Trout Brook
  Nov 02, 2004 15:45 PST 
Bob, Will, Jess:

After my walk today in the Trout Brook basin I would agree. The noble ash reaches a
pinnacle of sorts in there.

As I entered the basin I rechecked the lower pine area. The 151.4'h x 8.1'c one is
the tallest found so far but there is a 148' and a couple over 140' also. These are
young pines growing in an extremely favorable site. Barring misfortune, the
tallest one should exceed 160' in the next decade or two.

Travelling upstream, a tall 121.5' basswood caught my eye. This led me to cross the
stream and enter an area I had ignored before, but which turned out to be a classic
example of a high growth boulder field, with moss and ferns covering the boulders and
fallen logs. It reminds me more of Dunbar Brook than the boulder field at the base of
Todd mountain, but the average age of trees is lower. The canopy was almost entirely
hardwoods, dominated by white ash, yellow birch and black birch, with some beech,
sugar maple and red maple.   

On the slope, I measured an American Beech to 118.8', which surprised me. Beech in that height class are rare in MTSF. I next measured a red maple to 111.7' and another very attractive beech to 105.7'

This was followed by a series of the nicest white ash I have encountered. They are growing on a bench above the brook, at the base of the boulder field. The bench is wide enough to have good soil depth and long enough to fit lots of trees. I measured three ash over 130' and there are many over 120' Most of them are young, with circumferences in the 4' to 6' range, although there are several in the
7' to 8' range.

Across the brook I measured a hemlock to 120.7' Farther upstream was a hemlock to
126.1', which I think has been reported before. I also found a beautiful, perfectly
formed hemlock growing in a thick patch of hemlock on the slope above the brook.

This led me to a grove of ash trees I have had my eye on. They are growing thickly in a
bouldery cove above the brook and are hard to measure. I measured one to 133.7', and
another nearby to 126.8'. I was then surprised by a black birch at 109.3'. The
capstone of the day followed, a white ash that climbed to 142.4' with a circumference
of 8.0'.

The Trout brook basin now has three state height champions (Norway spruce, black
cherry and yellow birch) a runner up (sugar maple), white pine above 150', white ash
above 140', sugar maple above 130', and a great depth of other species. Missing from
the canopy but present elsewhere in MTSF are bitternut hickory and bigtooth aspen. Red
oak is present, but not to great heights.  My records show a Rucker index of 126.5 in
an area that does not exceed 150 acres. What else is in there?, one has to wonder. 

Top ten list I am aware of:

White pine      151.5'
White ash       142.4'
Sugar maple     132.0'
Norway Spruce   127'+
Eastern hemlock 126.1'
Black cherry    125'
Am. basswood    121.5'
Am. Beech       118.8'
Red maple       111.7' (should go higher)
Black birch     109.3'

Rucker index    126.5

Today's list:

WP 140.0' 9.4'c
WP 151.5' 8.1'c
BW 121.5' 4.9'c (one of a triple)
AB 118.8' 7.3'c
AB 105.7' 6.8'c
RM 111.7' 6.4'c
WA 111.9'       skinny
WA 123.4'
WA 119.2'
WA 134.0' 6.3'c
WA 132.6' 7.2'c
WA 127.3' 4.5'c
WA 126.2'       skinny
WA 126.2'       fat
WA 131.6' 5.1'c
WA 133.7' 7.0'c
WA 126.8'
WA 142.4' 8.0'c
EH 120.7' 7.1'c
EH 126.1' 6.7'c
EH 123.9' 7.0'c
BB 105.2'
BB 109.3' 5.0'c

That was the most fun I have had tree hunting in many moons.