Posted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:03 pm
by KoutaR

Jukka Lehtonen from Finnish Forest Research Institute showed me in August some Finnish height record trees. He had measured them in 90's with Vertex hypsometer and now I measured them with Nikon Laser 550A S. If I could get with laser close to Jukka's measurements, they would be European records, too. Note that these trees grow at a latitude of ~60 degrees.

Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)

Common juniper has the widest distribution of any tree or shrub species. It is divided to several varieties, most of them being only shrubs, but particularly the European variety (var. communis) often attains tree form, generally up to 5-6 meters (16-20 ft), occasionally taller. It attains its maximum size around the Baltic sea. The record juniper is located in Sääksjärvi, Mäntsälä. According to Jukka's measurement, it was 16.8 meters tall in 90's. My measurement was 16.4 m (53.8 ft). CBH is 89 cm. Its age is very hard to tell without coring it, but the tree has been mentioned to be exceptionally tall already 100 years ago. It grows in Norway spruce (Picea abies) - silver birch (Betula pendula) forest, in the immediate vicinity there are plenty of exceptionally large junipers. In the photo below, Jukka and the record juniper.


Accroding to the, there is a 18.5-meter common juniper in Sweden, but it is probably not laser measured. A forest researcher measured decades ago a 19-meter common juniper in Finland, but he promised to the land-owner not to reveal the location. The researcher has passed away and so we cannot ask about it anymore.

Goat Willow (Salix caprea)

Goat willow has a very wide distribution, almost whole Europe and to east Asia, and it is very common particularly in the European boreal zone. Unlike most large willow species, the habitat of goat willow is not restricted to floodplains and riversides. In the boreal zone, it is a part of pioneer forest vegetation besides birches, aspen (Populus tremula) and grey alder (Alnus incana). The North American equivalent is probably Bebb willow (S. bebbiana). The record goat willow is located in Nuuksio National Park, only 20 km from the city center of Helsinki. This tree was the biggest surprese to me: Jukka's measurement from 90's was 24.5 m. It was probably close to the truth and the tree had still grown: my measurement was 26.2 m (86.0 ft). The CBH is 66 cm. The tree grows in Norway spruce dominated forest in a small valley, with silver birch, downy birch (B. pubescens), black alder (Alnus glutinosa), aspen, Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata). In the photo below, the record willow, Norway spruces and two downy birches in the background.


Still another photo of the grove. The record goat willow on the left with a yellow band. Norway spruces, shrub-like rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) and two silver birches with white-black trunks on the left-center, the right one of which is 33 m (108 ft) tall, it would be very tall for the species in Central Europe, too.


Grey Alder (Alnus incana)

This species also has a very wide distribution in Europe, Asia and North America. It is divided to several subspecies. Like in common juniper, the European subspecies (subsp. incana) becomes taller than the North American one. In boreal Europe, grey alder is very common as a pioneer tree and on lake shores. In central Europe the species is largely restricted to mountains. Jukka's record grey alder had fallen, but there were equally tall individuals next to it. The height of the new record grey alder is 27.2 m (89.2 ft) and CBH 100 cm. It grows in Ruotsinkylä, Tuusula, in 90-year-old forest dominated by +30 m tall Norway spruces. The forest type is the most fertile in Finland. Other trees in the grove are black alder, aspen, silver and downy birch, and bird cherry (Prunus padus). The understory is dominated by lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina).


European Rowan = European Mountain-ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

Rowan also has a very wide distribution across Eurasia. It is very similar to American Mountain-ash (S. americana). The record rowan was our new find. Jukka pointed it to me as we walked to the alder group mentioned above. Its height is 22.3 m (73.2 ft) and CBH 112 cm.


In more southern locations, there are probably taller rowans, but measurements are still missing. In the British Tree Register, there is even 28 m (92 ft) tall rowan, but it is probably not laser measured.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2014: The tallest reliably measured rowan is now 23.5 m: ... chgspreng/