After visiting Cliff Creek, we stopped to re-measure the state height record pitch pine, and the tallest Virginia pine ENTS has on record. In March 2005, Will Blozan first spotted the trees, which grow in Georgia’s northeastern corner only a few yards from Warwoman Road. Slightly above a sheltered section of Morsingills Creek, the pines grow in association with rhododendron, a few white pines, and an unremarkable forest of mixed hardwoods.
The Virginia pine showed little growth; due to a different positioning of mid-slope ground level, the 5’0.5” circumference is smaller than previously recorded, though for Virginia pine an unusual abundance of lichens on the trunk also seems to suggest slow expansion, and the height has increased only 0.4’ to 122.3’. Contrastingly, a good view of the pitch pine’s crown revealed that tree to stand six feet taller than previously measured, now an ENTS record 142.3’. Similarly, the circumference appears to have grown from 7’7” to 8’0”. An adjacent, tall looking shortleaf pine, supported by a 5’10” cbh trunk, likewise claims a state height record at 138.7’.
The three pines grow in a line less than 75’ long. What makes this little patch of land such exceptional habitat is unclear, but the surrounding Chattooga River also supports the tallest known shortleaf and table mountain pines as well as the second tallest known white pine. The pines benefit from extra light due to the proximity of the road, but that explanation seems insufficient given the lack of similar clusters along other local roads.
Jess Riddle & Will Blozan