During my horrid trip thru the tornado damage I posted on last week, I did measure a few noteworthy trees. I had not been to the area for 15 years and at that time had measured some tall pitch (Pinus rigida) and shortleaf (Pinus echinata) pines. I had also measured a large paw-paw (Asimina triloba) that was a priority for a revisit. Paw Paw is not common in GRSM and is only known from a few locations.
The first tree I tried to locate was a 130'+ pitch pine. It was down. I did measure a 131.5' tree not too far away. Nearby though was the shortleaf pine I had measured in 1996 or 1997 to ~136'. This slender tree 23.4" dbh (59.4 cm) is now a record-breaking 149.2' (45.5m) tall- currently the tallest known specimen. Others in the area were in the mid 130's.
The Abrams Creek Campground and vicinity has perhaps the best example of low-elevation mixed conifer forest in the Smokies. Although not old-growth, it is very mature and contains numerous examples of tall (120'+/36.5 m) and mature pines of primarily three species; pitch, shortleaf, and eastern white (Pinus strobus). An occasional Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) can be seen but the most impressive species (these days) is healthy eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). The park service has a large and very successful hemlock conservation area along the creek, and the forest is quite intact and nearly pure conifer. I highly recommend a visit to this area. These days it is so refreshing to see and experience healthy hemlocks. They add a great touch of towering green and lower canopy foliage to this preserved example of cathedral conifer forest. The canopy is a constant 120' with emergent white pines to ~150' (45.7m). Years ago I did measure a 170' (51.8m) white pine but I was not able to relocate it.
I did relocate the paw-paw and it surprised me as being the tallest I have ever measured. At 62.2 (18.9m) feet it is an eastern height record for the moment- as I think Darian Copiz has a taller one to report from VA or MD. It is also large enough to be a National Champion with a big tree score of 96 points (30" X 62' X 16').
For this message the author Will Blozan has received Likes - 3:
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