James Madison’s Montpelier: Landmark Forest

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James Madison’s Montpelier: Landmark Forest

Post by ElijahW » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:25 pm


On 12/12/19, I spent a few hours at James Madison’s Montpelier, surveying the relatively modest in size, though still intact, Landmark Forest. Combed over more than a decade ago by fellow ents, this visit was something I’d been looking forward to for a long time. Here’s a link to Will Blozan’s and Jess Riddle’s survey from 2005: http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldtrips/virginia/james_madison_estate.htm.

Although the Landmark Forest is no longer home to Virginia’s tallest tree(s), it is nothing to sneeze at, either. Here’s what I found on my visit:

Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera

172.7’ x 11.76’
169.3’ x 13.00’
168.4’ x 11.66’
166.1’ x 11.47’
165.1’ (double trunk)
164.7’ x 11.44’
164.3’ x 12.23’

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra

152.3’ x 7.22’
143.8’ x 10.92’

White Oak Quercus alba

136.3’ x 7.8’

Chestnut Oak Quercus montana

131.0’ x 8.08’

American Beech Fagus grandifolia

125.2’ x 5.42’

Red Hickory Carya ovalis

143.0’ x 9.25’

Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa

120.8’ x 6.15’

American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis

128.4’ x 7.52’

Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica


Sweet Cherry Prunus avium

121.9’ x 5.32’

Historic Rucker Index:

Tuliptree 172.7
Northern Red Oak 152.3
Red Hickory 143.0 (likely same as Pignut Hickory from 2005)
White Oak 136.3
Chestnut Oak 132.4
Green Ash 129.8
Black Oak 129.5
Black Walnut 129.2
American Sycamore 128.4
American Beech 125.2

Average: 137.9’

Some large trees have fallen in the last decade or so, likely including the tallest Green Ash. Many of the tallest Tuliptrees also have suffered some wind damage, and potentially will continue to grow, despite their advanced age.


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Re: James Madison’s Montpelier: Landmark Forest

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:36 am

Red oaks are growing tremendously well in Virginia! The green ash is almost certainly Biltmore ash. ENTS was not aware of the Biltmore species (or subspecies as some would say) at that point. The variability of the bark on Biltmore is very confusing as you have already been finding out. Just about every ash that I thought was green turned out to be Biltmore.
Green ash has smaller twigs. Biltmore and white have thick twigs. Biltmore has at least three different bark variations and perhaps even more. It can look similar to white with variable patterns-mostly in the mountains and higher elevations http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=106&t=6791&start=10 July 22, 2019 post. A streamside Biltmore pattern http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=106&t=6265 http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=7611 looks more like green ash and a South Carolina mountain pattern looks similar to persimmon but is much more gray in color and more rounded. http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=122&t=4914 . I know I said I'd get some more pics of Biltmore bark but these links will have to do for now.

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Re: James Madison’s Montpelier: Landmark Forest

Post by ElijahW » Thu Apr 02, 2020 11:37 am


I hadn’t considered the possibility of Biltmore Ash instead of Green Ash. I didn’t get up close to the tree I measured to look at the bark and twigs carefully. It had the overall form I’m used to seeing with Green Ash and was growing in or adjacent to a wet area. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of that particular tree, otherwise I would have a second look.

If you’re ever in the area, check it out for me; otherwise, I’ll probably go back at some point. Hopefully the ashes aren’t all dead by then.

Thanks for the help,


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