Way back in 1996 I spotted a grove of Carolina hemlock near Montreat, NC that had impressive trees, but did not go down to see it. As many of you know, Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) is a diminutive cousin to the much larger eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) with it's global population center in North Carolina. I returned to the grove yesterday to scope it out and am kicking myself for not returning sooner...
The small stand is on a NE running ridge on the east side of Brushy Mountain near the small town of Montreat. The ridge is classic xeric evergreen dominated by pitch and Table Mountain pines with a healthy dose of Carolina hemlock (yes, some were in fact healthy in spite of heavy HWA pressure). The ridge communities are stunted but occasionally a seed gets going in a wetter, more protected area and great things happen. As I approached the grove a large hemlock snag was seen near the creek and at first glance I assumed it was a moderate eastern hemlock. As I got closer the ID changed and expletives flew when I realized it was a Carolina and not an eastern. Man, was I bummed I did not revisit this grove in time to treat the tree in it's prime. Point total for this tree soars to 229 which shatters all previous National Champions to my knowledge (126" CBH X 93.3' tall X ~40' spread). A 200 pointer is hard to find! Regardless, I plan to climb and model it for volume as it likely is the largest specimen any NTS has seen.
Damn little sucking bastard adelgids!!!!!!!!!!!!