Limits of Pinus strobus    Robert Leverett
   Apr 03, 2006 07:32 PDT 


   I suspect we're close to detecting the pattern with Pinus strobus,
although the genetic variability may provide a wider standard deviation
with the species than with say Sequoia. At least that is what I've
gathered from comments made by Lee Frelich in the past.

   My take on Pinus strobus is that 165 to 185 feet is it, except for a
few statistical outliers. That fits with what Gordon Whitney concluded
in his research.

   This past weekend, John Eichholz and I modeled the Grandfather pine
in Dunbar Brook. You'll recall that it is the large pine up the ridge
from the onw you, Will, and Ed climbed in 2004. John modeled the base
and found a better compromise for mid-slope. He set the circumference at
dbh level at an even 14 feet. We will need to combine our reticle-based
measurements, but the tree's trunk volume is very close to 1000 cubic
feet. With limb volume added, it will exceed 1000 cubes, if only
slightly. At this point my first calculation is 1007 cubes for trunk
alone, but that may change.

   The Dunbar tree, the Ice Glen pine, the Tamworth pine in NH, the
Cornplanter pine in PA, the Seneca Pine, etc. all suggest that in the
Northeast, single-stemmed great whites would only occasionally exceed
1000 cubes. Were they larger in Wisconsin and Michigan? I don't know.
Possibly so. Here, I'm speaking of single-trunked trees.

   The next challenge will be to model the double and triple-trunked
pines to see if they have more volume. I didn't have confidence using
the RD 1000, especially in making close calls. I have the confidence
using the Macroscope 25. It carries the needed accuracy to measure the
width of the target. Modeling the overall shape with either the RD 1000
or Macroscope 25 is very labor intensive, but with the Macroscope it can
be done. April 8th is modeling day.


BVP Wrote:Greetings,

Very well spoken, my friend.

I think this situation applies to just about every species - with a different height for each species. Once you have enough data of high accuracy, these patterns emerge.

Our western trees are just the same. With Sequoia, we have 118 trees over 360 feet tall, and we only recently had one of the break the 370 foot barrier. Some of these trees are widely separated in both space and environment.

If you do not detect this pattern, Pinus strobus for example, it simply means you do not have enough data or that the potential pool has been reduced (through logging).


Back to Scott    Robert Leverett
   Apr 03, 2006 08:24 PDT 


   There is little doubt in my mind that Pinus strobus exceeded 200 feet
historically, though probably not often. I think we can believe a very
occasional height even approaching 220 feet. However, the numbers quoted
from northern NH that suggest historical heights of 260 to 270 feet for
white pine are not credible in my estimation. In fact, I place no stock
in these historical accounts. I'll leave it to Will Blozan and BVP to
agree with me on this or present a differing view. But, if the height
numbers in the National Register of Big Trees are unreliable, often
being off by 20 feet or more, and on occasion by over 50 feet, what
would make historical, anecdotally related heights more reliable?
Additionally, as Lee Frelich has pointed out, the standards for
measuring in the 1800s and before were not up to snuff. An inch could be
the length of somebody's knuckle. A foot was just that - somebody's
foot, probably ranging from 9 to 13 inches by today's standards.

   All this brings me to a point that I periodically feel compelled
make, which is just to keep the record current for anyone who might read
our e-mails via the web. Obviously, list members are the choir. It has
taken little short of a crusade (poor choice of descriptor?) for ENTS to
get serious tree measurers to abandon the percent slope method and adopt
our more accurate sin-sin method. The investment in equipment is really
not significant, at least not any more. Yet a surprising number of
otherwise serious tree measurers see the investment as prohibitive, and
consequently, continue adding to the stream of badly mis-measured trees
and writers routinely report the mismeasurements. The bad numbers
circulate endlessly. They truly have lives of their own.

   Looking into the future, what might a big tree enthusiast, let's say
writing a book on tall trees, choose as reliable sources of information?
Regrettably, he/she will continue to have an endless stream of
mis-measured trees to report on - without knowing that they were
mis-measured. After all, shouldn't the National Register be considered

   In a nutshell, that is why our ENTS work is soooo important.

With respect to the reported 200-foot tall white pine. In 1995, Will
Blozan and I measured the Boogerman Pine in the GSMNP to 207 feet. That
was before its top was broken. It was parred back to 180. It is now over
187 feet tall. So the recovering capacity of the species is impressive.
As for the possibility of future 200-footers, I suspect that competing
processes are at work and the jury must remain sequestered for a decade
or more. For example, how will more atmospheric CO2 impact tree growth
over the next 50 to 100 years? If changing climate produces more rapid
growth in some species, increased atmospheric ozone may kill the new
growth faster than it is added. Where will the balance lie?

    Barring injury, I will be mightily surprised if the Jake Swamp white
pine in MTSF doesn't make it to 170 feet. But every bit of upward growth
there after will be considered a gift from heaven. Do I ever expect to
see a 200-footer of any species at latitudes of 40 degrees or farther
north? Nope. Do I expect to see a 200-footer in that super tree belt
extending from South Carolina across to the Mississippi? I'm cautiously
optimistic that ENTS will sooner or later confirm a another 200-footer.
Species? White pine of course.