The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

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#1)  The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby KoutaR » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:04 pm

NTS,

The Sgerm Spruce (Sgermova smreka) in Ribnica na Pohorju, west of Maribor, Slovenia, is named after the farm where it is located.

               
                       
Sgerm_landscape.jpg
                       
Vista from the farm. Fruit trees, foreground; Norway spruce dominated forest, background.
               
               

The tree is quite well known and cited as one of the tallest (or even the tallest) Norway spruce (Picea abies) in the world. At an altitude of around 500m, the tall spruce is growing near the bottom of a valley in a slight side valley on the NW facing slope.

               
                       
Sgerm_spruce_base.jpg
                       
Grega Sgerm, the owner's son; Blaž Kristan, the owner; and Matic Kristan, the owner's son, at the Sgerm Spruce. Also European silver fir sapling, foreground, and European beech, right.
               
               

The forest was originally dominated by European beech (Fagus sylvatica), but Norway spruce and European silver fir (Abies alba) now dominate due to forest management. Beech and sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) occur, as well as common hazel (Corylus avellana) in the shrub layer. Annual precipitation is over 1000 mm.

The spruce is estimated to be 250 years old. The estimation is based on a ring-count of a neighbouring similar-sized spruce which was felled by wind.

Websites say that the last measurement in 2006 gave its height as 61.8 m. The owners, Blaž Kristan and Damijana Sgerm-Kristan, showed us the report of the measurer, Božo Koler from University of Ljubljana. We saw from the report that the Theodolite measurement had been done very carefully, but it was to the high-slope point, so the tree could be even taller as it is growing on a slope. The owners also gave us earlier height measurements:

1938: 51 m
1980: 57.5 m
1995: 61.7 m; DBH 108 cm

Another spruce on the opposite slope was measured by Koler as 54 m tall.

Laser measurements by Jeroen and Kouta gave 62.2 meters above the average soil level and 61.4 m to the high-slope point. We had been given permission for Michael to climb the spruce and this was the first time that the spruce was to be climbed. Over 10 Slovenians followed the climb: the owner’s family, foresters, the vice mayor of the town, TV cameraman and reporter.

               
                       
folks_at_Sgerm_spruce-small.jpg
                       
This is Jeroen's photo. The other photos are Kouta's. Part of the "audience". From the left: Matic Kristan, the owner's son; Tomaž Serec, local forester; Miha Mrakič, local forester; the town's vice mayor Aleš Zapečnik; Damijana Sgerm-Kristan, the owner; Grega Sgerm, the owner's son; Rok Držečnik, municipal public utilities clerk; Blaž Kristan, the owner; TV cameraman.
               
               

From the summit, Michael measured the highest part of the tree with a folding pole and placed a marker at 4.50 m below the tip. The next part to the point about one meter above the high-slope point was measured by lowering a tape and was 56.23 m. As Michael descended, Jeroen and Kouta defined the average soil level (which was not an easy task!). It was 1.53 m and the high-slope point 0.96 m below the tape measured part of the tree. This gave the total height of the tree as 62.26 meters (204.3 ft.) above the average soil level and 61.69 m (202.4 ft.) to the high-slope point. This is the tallest reliably measured native European tree we are aware of. The original top is still intact.

               
                       
Sgerm_spruce.jpg
                       
Michael climbing Sgerm Spruce at about 20 metres. Also young silver firs; sycamore maple foliage, left.
               
               

Girth: The CBH is 390 cm (DBH 124 cm) above the average soil level and 361 cm (DBH 115 cm) above the high-slope point.

A 48.4-meter silver fir grows nearby.

Michael's travelogue for this part of our trip can be read here:

viewtopic.php?f=386&t=4641#p19778

Kouta, Michael & Jeroen
Last edited by KoutaR on Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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#2)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby dbhguru » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:38 pm

Kouta,

    What kind of precipitation falls in that region? How about temperatures? I'm wondering if the the climate there is similar to around Woodstock, VT where I have the two Norways at 140.5 and 140.0 feet in height. The Woodstock tree were planted around 1877. So in 135 years, they've reached 140 feet or 42.7 meters. If the Vermont trees can average no more than 4 inches of new growth annually, at an age of 250 years, they would be around 178 feet (54.4 meters). At some future date, the Norway may challenge the native white pine as the tallest northeastern species. Who knows.

      Thanks again for these inspiring posts.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest

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#3)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby KoutaR » Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:03 pm

Bob,

Climate charts for Maribor:

http://www.worldclimateguide.co.uk/climateguides/slovenia/maribor.php

As the elevation of the Sgerm Spruce is ~200m higher, the temperatures should be ~1 degrees lower and the precipitation probably a bit higher.

Kouta

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#4)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby KoutaR » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:50 am

There is my video of Michael climbing the first 20 meters of the Sgerm Spruce here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-50vXqx54IY

Kouta

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#5)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby Bart Bouricius » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:18 am

Fantastic documentation of incredible tree, If this tree achieves 2 more meters it will be taller than any previously and accurately measured tree in the Eastern US.  It already is higher than any currently measured living tree since the top was blown out of a taller white pine several years ago.  impressive climbing technique as well, is this the method with one long handled ascender?
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#6)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby KoutaR » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:45 am

According to the East Max List, the Boogerman Pine was 207 ft, only 0.8 m taller than the Sgerm Spruce. Is 207 ft correct? According to the same list 207 ft was measured with tape and clinometer. Is that correct? What is the reliability of the measurement?

I hope Michael will tell about the climbing technique himself.

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#7)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby Michael J Spraggon » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:47 pm

Hi Bart,

Yes I was using my M-System. Video about it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgEIJuZLjSg

I didn't want to blast up the rope like in the video because I couldn't clearly see the branch supporting me from the ground so I took a steady walk up the rope! I'm still negotiating a license deal to get it made and sold around the world. It's all going very slowly but hopefully in a couple of years it will be available.

Michael
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#8)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby Will Blozan » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:30 pm

KoutaR wrote:According to the East Max List, the Boogerman Pine was 207 ft, only 0.8 m taller than the Sgerm Spruce. Is 207 ft correct? According to the same list 207 ft was measured with tape and clinometer. Is that correct? What is the reliability of the measurement?

I hope Michael will tell about the climbing technique himself.

Kouta


Kouta,

Yes 207' is correct- I think Larry meant feet, not meters. Bob Leverett and I did a very careful cross-triangulation on the tree with ground spotters for top measurements as projected to the ground. I think the numbers are solid but certainly could be in error but not by much. The tree deserved no less than the best attempt at accuracy.

In the photo below taken by Michael Davie in 2002 (taken from an adjacent hemlock) I am at a fork that originates at ~140' (42.7 m). The leader to left was the formerly tallest stem and the large break is visible (stem ends). The current high top is on the formerly shorter leader (right) and is a reiterated branch that now stands 188.9' (57.6 m) tall.
               
                       
Boog.jpg
                       
Will at fork in Boogerman Pine 2002
               
               

Will

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#9)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby KoutaR » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:17 pm

Thank you, Will !

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#10)  Re: The Sgerm Spruce – the tallest native European tree?

Postby Michael J Spraggon » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:48 am

Great photo! It's a very ragged exposed tree. Do you think the current leader could grow another 18 feet?

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