New record European larch

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#1)  New record European larch

Postby KoutaR » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:53 am

NTS,

I wrote about the tallest European larches (Larix decidua), I had measured until then, here:

viewtopic.php?f=198&t=1533

German tall tree hunter Karlheinz Brüne recently told me about a tall European larch in Schlitz, Germany, and invited me to measure it. According to the official information this tree, dubbed as "Grand German", is as tall as 55 meters (180 ft), but Karlheinz's preliminary measuremens gave only ~45 meters.

The tree grows in a 400-hectare lowland forest outside the natural range of the species. In addition to larch, the stand contains plentiful European beech (Fagus sylvatica). First larches have been planted in 1742. Now larch appears to regenerate naturally in the patches where beeches have been removed. Media articles speak about "195-years old trees" but it is unclear to me if it is the Grand German's age, too.

               
                       
SchlitzGrandGerman.jpg
                       
Kouta, Grand German and Karlheinz
               
               


My measurement was very close to that of Karlheinz: 45.5 m (149 ft). CBH is 354 cm. According to the official information its volume is 20 cubic meters.

After measuring the Grand German, we concentrated on other larches and soon noticed the stand has lots of taller trees than the Grand German. And how tall! I had not known European larch can attain such heights at all. The first over 50 m tall larch was the 51.6-meter (169 ft) tree pictured below. Its CBH is only 263 cm.

               
                       
Schlitz52.jpg
                       
Karlheinz at 51.6-meter European larch
               
               


We found two still taller trees growing side by side. The tallest is the very thin leaning tree below, with a CBH of 195 cm. Its height 52.6 m (173 ft) makes it the tallest reliable measured European larch we are aware of. The second tallest tree, height 51.8 m (170 ft), is on the right.

               
                       
Schlitz53.jpg
                       
52.6-m and 51.8-m larches, center and right
               
               


It is possible that somebody has confused the tree identities. The Grand German is undoubtedly the largest tree of the stand but it is far from being the tallest although the official information states so. Its top is also intact. Perhaps the 55-meter tree still exists, we had possibility to explore only a small part of the forest, though it should be a prime stand because it is marked as a seed collection site.

Thus, the name "Grand German" is quite misleading: the tree is not the tallest in Germany, nor the thickest or largest (e.g. the Brüsenwälder Lärche is 460 cm and 30 cubic meters).

Tall European larches exist as north as in southern Finland. In a research forest of Finnish Forest Research Institute in Punkaharju, there is a 47.1-meter (155 ft) larch measured with Riegl VZ-1000 laser scanner (price about $ 200.000!). The whole stand was laser-scanned and an animation of the scanned stand can be seen here (the tallest tree appears at 0:48):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYGvF5n0dFA
It is the tallest tree of Finland. Forestry engineer Esko Oksa told me the wood volume of the stand is now over 800 m3/ha and was over 1000 m3/ha before thinning. The tree is pictured below.

               
                       
PunkaharjuLarix_decidua47.jpg
                                       
               


Kouta

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#2)  Re: New record European larch

Postby Will Blozan » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:50 pm

Kouta,

WOW!!! I am truly impressed with those heights and I do hope a 55m tree will be found. Did you measure any associated species?

Great job and great post!

Will
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#3)  Re: New record European larch

Postby Larry Tucei » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:02 pm

Kouta,   What a beast!  Anytime a tree reaches heights over 150' you have to just say wow! Beautiful looking species.  Larry
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#4)  Re: New record European larch

Postby dbhguru » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:51 pm

Kouta,

   Congratulations! European larches rule! I'm going to really look for the best ones in Marsh-Billings-Rockerfeller NHP next week.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#5)  Re: New record European larch

Postby KoutaR » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:27 am

Thanks all!

Will, the stand where we measured contains only larches and beeches. We didn't measure beeches; they were lower and very difficult to measure with leaves. Karlheinz tries to contact forestry officials if they know where the 55-meter tree is located. At the best the stand should be re-measured when beeches are without leaves.

Kouta
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#6)  Re: New record European larch

Postby KoutaR » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:51 am

Will, if you meant the both forests, yes Esko Oksa and I measured other species in Punkaharju, Finland. Esko has Nikon Forestry Pro. Many tall trees, native and introduced, exist in the research forest which is located in the most favorable climate for tree growth in Finland. Below some tall trees from Punkaharju.

35.4-meter (116 ft) silver birch (Betula pendula). It is surrounded by taller European larches. This tree may have been taller than the tallest silver birch in Białowieża (36.4 m, 119 ft) before its top dried and broke off a few years ago.

               
                       
PunkaharjuBetula_pendula35.jpg
                       
35.4-meter silver birch
               
               


39.9-meter (131 ft) Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). This tree is located in a nature reserve where no logging occurred after ~1930.

               
                       
PunkaharjuPinus_sylvestris40.jpg
                       
39.9-meter Scots pine
               
               


40.5-meter (133 ft) Siberian fir (Abies sibirica). The species is not native in Finland.

               
                       
PunkaharjuAbies_sibirica40.jpg
                       
40.5-meter Siberian fir
               
               


43.6-meter (143 ft) Siberian larch (Larix sibirica). Also this species is not native in Finland.

               
                       
PunkaharjuLarix_sibirica44.jpg
                       
43.6-meter Siberian larch
               
               


There are taller Siberian larches in Roshchino, Russia, also outside the native range. Tangent measurements have given heights up to 53 m (174 ft). Tremendous 2000 m3/ha have been measured in the >250 years old Roshchino stand by Finnish researchers.

Kouta

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#7)  Re: New record European larch

Postby Chris » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:01 pm

Very nice!

Do you know the history (or current status) of the Grand Germans stand. If outside native range, I assume originally planted as a plantation, but later not logged? Could there be future logging or is it all "preserved" now?
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#8)  Re: New record European larch

Postby KoutaR » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:01 pm

Chris,

I discussed this with Karlheinz before replying. Yes, the larch forest was originally a plantation. Difference should be made between the whole 400 ha larch forest and the stand where we measured (probably less than 10 ha). The latter includes the Grand German stand and the neighboring seed collection site where the tallest trees are located. The local foresty officials know they may have the tallest European larches in the world and they are very proud of them. Thus, they won't certainly cut the tallest stand, although it is not legally protected. We don't know if larches have been felled in the past in this stand. Beeches have certainly been felled, you can see beech stumps in my photos, too. However, this all is not the case for the whole 400 ha forest. There is logging in other parts of the forest. We don't know if there are other super tall stands. We don't even know if the "55-meter" tree is located in the stand where we measured. Karlheinz will try to contact forestry authorities. He is also planning to go to measure there again.

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#9)  Re: New record European larch

Postby Karlheinz » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:47 am

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#10)  Re: New record European larch

Postby Karlheinz » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:04 am

Hello, greetings to the forum!

After contacting the forest office I can tell you now some more details: This one respectable tree, shown by the Photo with Kouta and me, is the most formidable larche in the area of Schlitz and in Hessen (federal state in Germany). The age is defined to 190 years. Local press in former years covered this tall tree and made overdrawn statements and created the name “Grand German”. Perhaps, when forest officer during a guided tour said: This is the “General Sherman" of Schlitzerland, local press coined the similar sounding phrase “Grand German”. Across the years other papers and also the regional government press office reprinted and grow up the dimensions. Forestry Commission never corrected, but they did not spread or use this name and they will not name the tree. Confusion with other trees are excluded.

Aside from this overstatement it is undoubted that about 120 m behind this described big one there is the stand with the highest yet known larches of Germany. But they are not so eye-catching and do not stand so close to the way as this big one, its trunks are less thick and its crowns look less extended. The extremely height of this trees (by European standards) I only realized by measuring. The age is well-defined to 180 years by increment boring method. Growth in girth is 1,5 mm per annum on average of last years, that is remarkable. Growth in heights is expected not much more.

The conditions for growth at this stand are estimated by Forestry Commission to be particularly favorable. The natural ground is loess soil with optimal water saturation, situated on slightly hillside to the north. Also the beeches here are remarkable tall-growing (>40 m) with regard to this region. You will not find any other similar stand in the region.

In the near future it is planned to take out some beeches that are thronging and deforming the larches too much.

This commercial forest here was under the ownership of the “Count of Schlitz” until 1977. Assumedly the larches were not logged because Professor Dr. Reinhard Schober, a former German forestry scientist, made scientific observations here. He published a monograph about larches. Since 1978 the federate state of Hessen is the owner and the stand is left to its own resources. No commercial interests are tracked. The state of Hessen has assumed a self-commitment not to log off this larches.

Karlheinz

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