Re: Excessive incremental boring
  Oct 04, 2003 08:53 PDT 
For such an environmentally-conscious group, there appears to be "a whole lot
of boring going on". Old growth stems are mostly static heartwood.
Typically, incremental boring goes past the dynamic sapwood, well into the heartwood,
leaving a rather large wound, which can expose the tree to some rather
aggressive pathogens (not to mention fracture initiation). 

Squirrels mostly girdle
small branches, often not much deeper than the cambium. Yes, they do
occasional make holes. But only through old closed flush cuts, to make a home in an
existing cavity. Woodpeckers and sapsuckers rarely go beyond the bark and outer
sapwood. Though some woodpeckers go well into the heartwood, it's often to
access an existing cavity, to also make a home. I would encourage all that can
afford it, to use a resistograph to measure age. This leaves a very small
wound, and prints out a very professional reading, that will stand up in court.

Of course, I would not recommend such a sensitive, heavy, expensive
instrument on long treks. If you must bore, the lower on the butt you go, the better.
Trunk flares have the best wound response, but it may be impractical to put a
tape around the entire tree this close to the ground. I like to carry an
incremental boring hammer. It does not involve tedious hand drilling, or
delicate cord removal. It takes a much smaller and shorter sample. By hitting the
top needle with your palm, out pops your sample. A sharp blade and a hand lens
will do the rest. Most undisturbed forest trees have consistent growth. By
averaging the annual ring distance, times 1/2 your stem diameter, you have a
close age of your tree. 

For urban trees, a resistograph can be rented or
leased from the Company. Also, what about measuring a similar size like-species
declining tree or even a recent blowdown? This all may sound a bit much. But
what if your dating is hotly contested? That poor tree may be corded into an
early grave. Surely, such an elite group as y'all are not more invasive than
this ole aborist (and former Mainiac logger)?
Just an observation and possible tree-friendlier solution,

Randy Cyr
Greenville, SC

RE: Excessive incremental boring    Joseph Zorzin
   Oct 04, 2003 11:26 PDT 

Foresters are suppossed to bore trees to get the age, to determine site
index. Personally, I don't do it because it's hard work, tough to
measure the rings, and I don't really care much what the index is- other
than I just look at the trees and make an intuitive estimation of site
quality, in terms of quality. Not very scientific, but if I did get a
good site index reading it wouldn't make much difference in the work I
do. I can tell if a tree is doing well and ought to grow longer,
compared to recognizing when a tree is ready to be harvested. I've
actually been in the woods with immature "service foresters" who felt
that they couldn't make silvicultural decisions without doing the
careful site index thing, taking numerous basal area readings and
looking in a silvicultural guide! duh..... So, I hung up my boring tool
20 years ago, for good. Of course, researchers should be doing such

Re: Excessive incremental boring
   Oct 04, 2003 12:46 PDT 
Good for you, JZ! With urban trees, I first look for upper crown dieback as
I walk towards the tree (often, construction-related root injury). But if I
look across the top of a forest canopy, I see only green (though, many trees
may be overmature). Many forest tree crowns are out of throwball and field
glass range. As a forester, what signs and symptoms do you look for that would
indicate stress (and need for harvesting)?   Do you use crown density
instruments if you've given up boring and can not access shoot growth? 

I know these may
sound like foolish questions. As an arborist, I have access to a tree's
leaves, which reveal much about their health. To have a tree respond to known
treatments, it's important to detect abnormalities early, before decline and
strain (irreversible). I respect and benefit from our area's foresters. But, I
must confess some 30-plus-year veterans wouldn't know a sick tree if it fell on

Recently, a dean of forestry told another professor (english) that her
sick white oak was "fine". She abruptly cancelled her scheduled treatment.
By the time she becomes convinced that her tree needs professional help, I
will likely have to decline treatment, knowing that strained trees will not
respond. Could lack of crown access limit health assessment, requiring boring?
What say ye?

Randy Cyr
Greenville, SC   

RE: Excessive incremental boring    Joseph Zorzin
   Oct 04, 2003 15:19 PDT 

Randy Cyr Greenville, SC 
wrote: As a forester, what signs and symptoms 
do you look for that would indicate stress (and need for harvesting)?

That's a very big question- because choosing trees to harvest because
they're under stress is only one reason to choose them. But there are
things to look for- each species tends to reach biological maturity at
different ages and sizes. If for example, I see an 18" DBH white birch
or poplar, I know it probably won't live much longer, even if it looks
healthy, based on a decent sized crown. Crowns can indicated "die back"
if the top of the crown shows dead branches. My basic rule is "trees die
from the top down". In other cases, the top of the crown may not show
dead branches, but it's evident that the crown has been slowly
constricted in its competition with its neighbors as if slowly
suffocating. A tree stem may have massive injuries, yet live for many
years. I've girdled trees incorrectly, leaving a half inch of live bark-
with that tree showing little sign of crown dieback even 10 years later.
So, looking at the crown is critical, and of course, each tree species
has a different shape crown, so you need to know if an individual tree's
crown is getting out of the norm for health. Another thing to notice is
leaf health, early dropping (for that species) is a good indication of
problems- that is if near by trees of the same species aren't dropping
by that time.

More on crown dieback: here's an example, I just marked a large timber
sale, about a third was ash. For unknown reasons, the ash on this very
fertile "northern hardwood" site is mostly dieing back, not all, but
most. Many ash as small as 10" dbh are clearly dieing back and many are
already dead. Just looking at the stems, you'd never suspect a problem.
But, it's obvious that the tops are greatly shrunk. Some of this dieback
may simply be due to competition, but many showing dieback had large
healthy crowns just a few years ago. I marked almost all of the ash
which look as if they won't survive to the next cutting cycle,
regardless of size. However, amongst this unhealthy population are some
ash with very vigorous crowns, and many of those I left even if they
were economically mature, since I felt that by doing so, it could
contribute to the overall health of that species in that area by leaving
them for seed sources. The dominate species on the site is sugar maple,
a very rich site for maple. Perhaps the maple were winning some kind of
war here.

As I hint above, biological stress is only one item to look for in
choosing which trees to harvest. Economic maturity is critical, but
that's a HUGE subject to go into, unless anyone is interested. Few
foresters understand economic maturity, which does NOT mean that the
tree will pay its way out of the forest.

 Do you use crown density
instruments if you've given up boring and can not access shoot growth?

My "crown density instruments are my eyeballs and frontal lobes. <G>
Well, I've looked at millions of trees in the past 30 years, so I use my
intuition from that experience. Certainly, most trees that show stress
will by high candidates for harvesting, not always, but usually.

I know these may
sound like foolish questions. As an arborist, I have access to a tree's 
leaves, which reveal much about their health. To have a tree respond to
known treatments, it's important to detect abnormalities early, before decline
and strain (irreversible).

As an arborist, trees represent a different sort of resource, since they
have much greater worth as landscape trees compared to that same tree
deep in the forest. So, your sensitivity to health issues is far more
important than to foresters who are also looking for economic maturity
concerns. Injuries that yard trees sustain are different too-
recognizing which human activities weakened the tree is a vital skill of
the arborist. Regarding reversibility of decline, it seems to me that
most trees, once they start "go down", seldom recover, at least in the
forest, I don't know about yard trees as you can fertilize them and give
all sorts of nursing.

I respect and benefit from our area's foresters. But, I
must confess some 30-plus-year veterans wouldn't know a sick tree if it fell on
them! Recently, a dean of forestry told another professor (english)
that her sick white oak was "fine".

Unless that forestry prof specialized in tree health, it's highly
unlikely he'd know more than a practicing arborist about such problems-
too bad he even pretended, or maybe he considered the problem not so
threatening at this time, not considering the progression of the problem
in a few years.

She abruptly cancelled her scheduled treatment.

Wow, if I found myself in that situation, I'd send the prof a letter
requesting that he give a formal statement on his opinions of that tree.
If he can't come up with one, he owes you and the owner an apology.

By the time she becomes convinced that her tree needs professional help,
I will likely have to decline treatment, knowing that strained trees will
not respond. Could lack of crown access limit health assessment, requiring

In my opinion, boring doesn't do much damage to the health of trees-
very little in fact. Branches are dying all the time and they all can
cause infection to enter. The damage, long term, is more to the quality
of the lumber that the tree may produce- speaking of commercial forest
trees, not yard trees. Dr. Alex Shigo's research has analysed the long
term damage to trees from increment boring- showing little serious
health damage, but some damage to the "grade" of the future lumber due
to stain and fungus. Trees can isolate areas of infection with barriors
impervious to infection. For those of you not familiar with Dr. Shigo,
you really need to read his stuff- Shigo is one of the few forestry
researches I really like a lot- he's the world's authority on infections
in trees, I think.

What say ye?

I say, grab a brew and bottoms up! <G>

Joe Zorzin

Re: Excessive incremental boring    The Darbyshires
   Oct 04, 2003 20:06 PDT

The internet address above will take you to a Tree Ring FAQ page that deals
with tree damage from increment coring.

Re: Excessive incremental boring
   Oct 04, 2003 20:30 PDT 
Great site. Although, Shigo's research shows perpendicular coring is least
injurious, in deference to this site's recommended upward coring. Thanks,
Re: Excessive incremental boring   Dee & Neil Pederson
  Oct 05, 2003 18:50 PDT 

Thank you Robyn for the page referring to the impact of coring on
trees. [Please see a short review of these studies at the bottom of
my response].

Our lab tried out a resistograph. We didn't feel it would work for
studying trees with slow growth. We've seen trees from all over the
world that have 20-60 rings/inch and some trees with much slower
growth. A sample of huon pine from Down Under had 1700 rings over a ~
1 foot distance. A chestnut oak grew 100 years over the distance of
one inch. A resistograph works fine for rapidly growing trees with
evenly spaced rings, but I'm not sure it could accurately pick up the
number of rings in such tight growth, growth that is often present in
old-growth trees.

A resistograph also works well on trees with rings that have a
significant change in density moving across the ring boundary. Would
it work on species with diffuse-porous rings?

  By averaging the annual ring distance, times 1/2 your stem diameter,
you have a close age of your tree.

Maybe, sometimes. Charlie Cogbill wrote up a nice piece about tree
size and age on the list some time ago. It has relevance to the idea
above. Is Charlie's letter on the ENTS web site?

   A recent study from out west of trees that had a wedge removed by a
chain saw indicated a significant change in the rate of mortality of
sectioned trees [8% vs 1%]. However, mortality of sectioned trees was
fairly low:

Animals can impact trees, but what about ice storms, nor'easters [w/
their heavy snow], hurricanes, windstorms, etc? These create large
wounds on trees and can knock out large sections of the canopy.
Despite these significant injuries, many trees are able to live 2-3
centuries or more. Please see the tulip-poplar picture at the bottom
of this page: This
tree is an old tulip living in an old-growth forest. Several tulips
had crowns like this.

Plus, you can't leave out evidence from the maple syrup world. These
trees, granted under lower than natural basal area, are tapped each
year [creating holes bigger in diameter than the typical increment
corer] and have sap [energy/carbon] extracted. Some sugar bushes have
been tapped successfully for decades.

Finally, it could be argued that increment coring is tree friendly.
Acres of forest have been verified as old-growth [and subsequently
preserved] with the coring of only 20-30 trees. This is a pretty good
ratio. Doing a biopsy of a few trees to conserve a forest seems to be
a good tradeoff.


Growing environmental awareness in our society has increased concerns
that increment boring negatively impacts living trees. Although
coring does produce wounds that can potentially lead to internal
decay, there is no evidence of increased mortality and little
long-term effects following boring (Meyer and Hayward, 1936; Lorenz,
1944; Hepting et al., 1949; Toole and Gammage, 1959; Hart and Wargo,
1965; Cleaveland, 1998; Eckstein and Dujesiefken, 1999). This is
especially true when vigorous dominant and co-dominant individuals
are cored (Meyer and Hayward, 1936; Lorenz, 1944; Hepting et al.,
1949). In fact, low rates of mortality were seen in ponderosa pines
that had sections removed using a chain saw (Heyerdahl and McKay,

Trees have the ability to combat wounds that could potentially
reduce their longevity (Shigo, 1984; Loehle, 1988). Discoloration is
the most consistent effect of coring, yet it appears that the
discoloration is primarily the result of biochemical processes rather
than fungal influences (Lorenz, 1944; Toole and Gammage, 1959).

Cleaveland pointed out that "the USFS forest inventory has been
taking frequent cores as part of its inventory program, especially
out West, and have not noted any great effects. If there were, the
idea of Continuous Forest Inventory would have been abandoned by now"
(Cleaveland, 1998). The concern over coring in the first half of the
20th century may have partly been economic in nature. Discoloration
and decay greatly reduces lumber prices.

Bore holes from more than half of all trees cored in core damage
studies healed within 2-3 years (Meyer and Hayward, 1936; Lorenz,
1944; Hepting et al., 1949; Toole and Gammage, 1959). Plugging core
holes did little to reduce discoloration or decay (Meyer and Hayward,
1936; Lorenz, 1944; Hepting et al., 1949). Decay rates were often
less than 50% with most of the decay being saprot rather than
heartrot (Lorenz, 1944; Hepting et al., 1949). Saprot decay should
stop as soon as the wound was healed (Lorenz, 1944). The one study
that reported heartrot decay found its rate of incidence to be less
than 15% in a northern hardwood forest (Lorenz, 1944).
Trees that did not heal well in coring damage studies were typically
short-lived species like sweetgum and sugarberry (Toole and Gammage,
1959) or suppressed individuals (Meyer and Hayward, 1936; Lorenz,
1944; Hepting et al., 1949). Two yellow-poplar deaths were reported
following coring. However, these two trees were individuals in a
suppressed canopy position (Hepting et al., 1949). Indeed, "All
canker-forming diseases reported for yellow-poplar appear to be
confined to, or most severe on, trees that are low in vigor because
of drought, poor site, or competition." (Beck, 1990). Furthermore, of
the study in which the yellow-poplar deaths were reported, individual
trees were cored six times each, which akin to nearly girdling a
tree. This coring frequency is 3-6 times higher than most tree-ring
analysis studies.

It is generally true that the older a tree lives, the stronger its
defense to disease and injury (Loehle, 1988). Therefore, biological
theory would suggest that long-lived trees have a defense mechanism
that would allow them to sustain centuries of insects, ice damage,
wind storms, and repeated boring by birds such as yellow-belly
sapsuckers . Therefore, evidence suggest that boring of 20 trees will
not significantly change mortality rates of in a forest. The small
wounds created should heal rapidly (Hepting et al., 1949) and will
likely be insignificant injuries.

Literature Cited:
Beck, D.E. 1990. Liriodendron tulipifera L: Yellow-Poplar. In: Burns,
R. M., Honkala, B.H. (tech. eds.) Silvics of North America. USDA
Handbook 654.) Washington, D. C. USA.

Cleaveland, M. 1998. Coring Controversy. Letter to the Editor. Wild
Earth 8:13-14.

Eckstein, D. and D. Dujesiefken. 1999. Long-term effects in trees due
to increment borings. Dendrochronologia 16-17: 205-211.

Hart and Wargo, 1965. Increment borer wounds - penetration points for
Ceratocystis fagacerarum. J. For. 63: 38-39.

Hepting, G.H., E.R. Roth and B. Sleeth. 1949. Discoloration and decay
from increment borings. J. For. 47: 366-370.
Heyerdahl, E.K. and S.J. McKay. 2001. Condition of live fire-scarred
ponderosa pine trees six years after removing partial cross sections.
Tree-Ring Res. 57: 131-139.
Little, E. Jr. 1971. Atlas of United States Trees: Volume 1 Conifers
and Important Hardwoods. USDA For. Ser. Misc. Pub. #1146.

Loehle, C. 1988. Tree life history strategies: the role of defenses.
Can. J. For. Res. 18: 209-222.

Lorenz, R.C. 1944. Discoloration and decay resulting from increment
borings in hardwoods. J. For. 42: 37-43.

Shigo, A.L. 1984. Compartmentalization: a conceptual framework for
understanding how trees grow and defend themselves. Ann. Rev.
Phytopathol. 22: 189-214.

Toole, E.R. and J.L. Gammage. 1959. Damage from increment borings in
bottomland hardwoods. J. For. 57: 909-911.

Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring
  Oct 05, 2003 20:05 PDT 
Thanks for the great website URL. 1,500 to 1,600 years for a live oak does
sound a bit much. I am presently working on a Live Oak website (among other
things), which will feature Antebellum Oaks of the South. What I have found
during my plantation tours is that it's not uncommon to find a larger 300 year
old live oak standing near a smaller 600 year old. Why is this? I don't have
all the answers. Many dates are set by history, cross-reference and short
cores. Old live oaks can be extremely difficult to date. The scientists that I
have talked to have said that the Angel Oak consistently dates between 1,500 &
1,600 years. The only way for each of us to be 100% sure is to core all the
way through the stem (for ourselves). If one will not accept another's
estimate, there will soon not be enough xylem left to support the 170 feet crown. I
can but hope that if a society arises to challenge these "exaggerated" claims,
that it not be before reliable "less invasive technology" comes available.
After all, no matter how beneficial we make coring sound, it's not quite like
using a laser/clinometer to measure height within a foot. With all the
exaggerated height claims this Group exposes, I can well understand why we would and
should scrutinize every claim of great age.
Re: Excessive incremental boring   Lee E. Frelich
  Oct 06, 2003 06:03 PDT 


I agree with your post <above>. It is necessary to core some trees to study
stand history in old growth stands, and little damage is done.

After 20 years, the hundreds of sugar maple, hemlock and yellow birch trees
I cored in old growth plots in the Porcupine Mountains show no evidence of
higher mortality than other trees.

On the other hand, I object to some coring that is done for curiosity,
especially when a core is taken, quickly counted in the field and thrown
out. Such information is no better than an age estimated from looking at
the tree, although it may in some cases be better than you can get from a
resistograph, from extrapolation of the outer rings, or from age-diameter
correlations. Most trees should be left uncored for esthetic and spiritual

I also agree with Joe that foresters don't need to core trees if they can
learn to see the forest. A lot of people have 20/20 vision from a medical
standpoint, but still can't see anything, especially in the forest.


Excessive incremental boring and attitudes   Robert Leverett
  Oct 06, 2003 08:09 PDT 


   Your last statement: "A lot of people have 20/20 vision from a
medical standpoint, but still can't see anything, especially in the
forest." rings so very true. Forest myopia is especially applicable to
those who "see the forest with an attitude". Rather than letting science
guide them, they preempt or bypass the lessons of science with their
personal agendas and exercise of personality traits. They can be either
left-centered or right-centered in their politics.

   Several years ago some of us were in a long running debate over the
state of forests past. A former president of the SAF made the shocking
statement that the forests of today are in better condition than they
have been at any time in the last several thousand years. Needeless to
say the old gent's statement created quite a stir and was widely
contested. The debate eventually got acrimonious and unproductive, but
while it lasted, it gave much food for thought, since this gent was one
of those to which the media turns to get a take on current forest
conditions and policy issues.

   The odd thing is that this past president of SAF is a PhD forester
who had a long and apparently distinguished career with the U.S. Forest
Service. But his audacious statement is an example of what I came to
call "seeing the forest with an attitude". He certainly had the
education and exposure to forest research to come to very different a
conclusion about human impacts, but his intense desire to believe that
human manipulations of the forest has, on balance, had overriding
positive effects created an attitude through which all his forest
evaluations were passed.

   On the opposite side, some people see the forest as populated by
mystical, i.e. mythical, creatures such as benign forest spirits with
suspiciously human personalities. This is also seeing the forest through
an attitude, albeit a very different one. Although I respect the
sensitivities and concern for the forests of the latter group, alas I
perceive no such forest spirits. Sometimes I wish there were elves and
hobbits and Ents, but so far I haven't glimpsed any - at least not that
I recognized.

   While most of us on this list would agree that there is no substitute
for forest science, I'm sometimes caught off balance at what is passed
off as good science. Lee, I'll bet you've got some real dillies of
examples of what you've seen passed off as good forest science by both
the left and right.

   What group of academics/professionals gives you the most problems in
terms of their seeing the forest through an attitude - or maybe I
shouldn't ask the question. It's my impish side coming out.


Re: Excessive incremental boring   Colby Rucker
  Oct 06, 2003 08:30 PDT 

Lee and Neil,

I agree with your conservative views on coring. If someone wants to core
trees in their own woods, or are employed by the owner of the woods to core
trees, so be it. That said, I'll assume that many people coring or
measuring trees are operating on property not theirs.

From my personal experience, it takes considerable time and effort to obtain
permission to examine trees on land not yours. State parks and forests are
subject to laws limiting the removal or disturbance of any rock, plant,
animal, etc., so tramping mindlessly through the vegetation isn't
acceptable. At Belt Woods I was able to submit a proposal for a scientific
study and have it approved by several agencies in less than the usual year,
but had to measure trees within a small window of time that would have
minimal impact on birds, herbaceous material and other studies.

Getting a permit to study the Corcoran tract also required a written
proposal. Carter's Grove was even more difficult. Measuring the Liberty
Tree always involved permission from college security. I've been fortunate
to know the owners of several local woodlands for over fifty years, but
friendships are built on mutual respect, and frequent phone calls to ask
permission and advise them who's in their woods are a necessity.

Even standing in the street and pointing a rangefinder at a tree in front of
someone's house isn't very polite, and with magnifying power, a rangefinder
could legally be construed as invasion of privacy.

And so on, just to measure tree heights. If was was interested in coring a
tree, things would be much more complicated, because coring is a
disturbance, material is being removed, and the person granting permission
may know little about coring. At the very least, written permission would
be essential, and should acknowledge that coring can cause problems. If the
permitting authority isn't aware of possible damage, then their permission
doesn't mean anything.

Well, I really don't know how many people take the trouble to obtain proper
permission to measure someone else's trees, but I hope the thrill of the
chase isn't leading anyone to be a thoughtless trespasser. As for coring
trees, obtaining permission is much more complicated, either involving a
waiver of standing regulations on public land, or taking long-term
responsibility for damages on private land. In any case, unless one is
acting as the employee of a university or other scientific entity, coring
seems almost foolhardy.

But there are lots of people measuring and coring. Have they found a way to
streamline a path through the legal and ethical restrictions, or are a bunch
of fellers just trespassing, and vandalizing someone else's trees?


RE: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring   Robert Leverett
  Oct 06, 2003 09:39 PDT 


Uh oh, you've asked a potentially embarrassing question. My biggest
snafus have been from making linear extrapolations form the slow outer
ring growth. I don't do that anymore and a lot of hemlocks that I once
thought could be 350 to 450 years old have more commonly turned out to
be 250 to 350 years old.

Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring
  Oct 06, 2003 09:45 PDT 
You should know that "I" do not claim that the Angel Oak is 1,400 to 1,600
years old, I merely state that scientists have said this. I have not cored this
tree, nor would I be allowed to (this declining giant is closely guarded). I
just got off the phone with a highly-respected, former USDAFS top scientist
(he wished not to be named in our Discussion). He said this was based upon a
number of Charleston area foresters who cored some of the largest branches (the
trunk's center is hollow). He said the lasted dating would still be over
1,000 years of age. I don't have great problems with that number. A Boone's
Plantation oak, dated almost 700 years of age, is a much smaller tree. A number
of Live Oaks in the Charleston area were documented of huge size as much as
300 years ago.
One ENTS member said a 5 to 6 ft dbh live oak was but 200 years. I don't
doubt this. Most trees, given the ideal environment, will reach their genetic
zenith. But that age is not necessarily the norm. The live oaks of famed Oak
Alley Plantation (again, I have great photos of all these trees), some about 5
to 6 feet dbh, are historically documented almost 400 years.
I concede that, when it comes to great height and age, "conifers rule". And
that prudent coring has a useful place in arboriculture and forestry. But,
until some of these claims are successfully challenged, please allow this ole
eastern country boy the right to dream a wonder...what if they
"could" be that old? What events have they witnessed beneath their lofty
boughs...if they could talk, what tales would they tell? How did this aging giant
survive Hugo (and a hundred other storms) unscathed...survive man's propensity to core out of curiosity...
Randy Cyr
Greenville, SC     
Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring
  Oct 06, 2003 10:03 PDT 
RE: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring 10/6/2003 12:39:39 PM <A HREF=""><;/A>
...making linear extrapolations form the slow outer ring growth...

You gents raise a good point! Beside slower outer growth and searching for
growth stabilization, areas that have seen many changes will be most difficult
to date (without coring all the way to the pith). Of course, an arborist is
primarily concerned with most recent growth.
Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring   Colby Rucker
  Oct 06, 2003 10:09 PDT 


Aw, shucks, don't be too hard on those good old southern boys. As I
understand it, the Angel Oak is privately owned by "Speedy" Felkel.
Speedy's a real estate man, and bought the tree in 1964 for $9000. He was
pretty upset when the Mayor of Charleston wanted to acquire the 2.1 acres
with the tree by eminent domain in 1988 and open it up to the public as a
"quiet and gentle park." The mayor said that Speedy put a "hideously ugly"
fence around the tree in 1976, turned it into a tourist attraction, and
charged $1.00 a head admission.

With all the notoriety, lots of people have heard of the tree, and the
take's not too bad. Of course, I suppose there's always the threat of
competition from alligator farms with 20-foot maneaters, places with
two-headed chickens, and wax museums. So, a feller's got to make his tree
look good. Apparently no one got hanged from the tree, but I think Speedy's
got it haunted by the spirits of murdered slaves, which provides some ethnic
balance to his enterprise.

The tree's six miles from Charleston, off the highway to Kiawah. I don't
know how many tourists go to Kiawah, so it probably takes a little effort to
steer people to Speedy's tree. Anyway, his little business seems to be
doing just fine, selling postcards and so forth. A really old tree brings
in more customers than a younger one, so he probably thought he'd say it was
500 years old, but lots of people say live oaks are 500, so 1000 seemed
better, especially with the possibilty of some snake farm opening up nearby.

Being a real estate man, Speedy knows how to make things look good. The
trouble with 1000 years is that people will think it's just a guess. That
being the case, he could have said 1300 years, but that might run off the
superstitious, especially with all those ghosts running loose. So, perhaps
he noticed that a one-inch branch was fifteen years old, did a little
cipherin' and decided that the trunk must be 1511 years old. Speedy's
promised the enterprise to his children, so they probably liked the idea,
and said they always knew he had scientific talent.

Anyway, the tree's now 1526 years old, "the oldest living thing east of the
Rockies." That's good for business, and most everybody's happy. Unless, of
course, there's a nearby alligator farm. They'd have to remeasure "Ole
Rip." He's sure to be thirty feet.

RE: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring   Robert Leverett
  Oct 06, 2003 11:54 PDT 


   You have made your case well. Your fellow ENTS grant to you and each
other the privilege of dreaming about a life form so old and venerable.
Regardless of how old the Angel Oak actually is, it has earned its place
in our minds as a thousand-year old citizen.


Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring/'gator 'restling
  Oct 06, 2003 14:01 PDT 
Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring 10/6/2003 1:10:42 PM E <A HREF=""><;/A>
...Aw, shucks, don't be too hard on those good old southern boys... 

Subscribing to another ListServ, banter and sometimes rancor is not foreign
to this New England native, though normally along left-coast/right-coast rifes.
I have found, in personal encounters, these "gentlemen" not so intimidating.
My first Greenville customer once asked me, "Ye one of them Yanks, ain't
ye?" A friend waiting at least a hundred feet away in his car burst out
laughing. I went on to find this not representative of the area. Greenville, ideally
situated between Charlotte and Atlanta, and ranked nationally at or near the
top for growth, has the world's highest concentration of engineers (over
10,000). Many, like me, are northern transplants.

I'm not aware of any 'gator 'restling in our area (or, for that matter,
within the state). Floridians once frolicked in such sport, but have since been
banned (activism?).

I understand that Mr. Felkel lost his property to a tax lien many years ago
and the City of Charleston has since purchased the property (1991?) and turned
it into a park. Though it's closer to a half hour drive from downtown
Charleston, admission is free and many have left truly enriched. With a hollow
trunk, we are left with dating it's very large branches. Whatever the age of this
venerable giant, some bald cypress are likely thousands of years older. Some
well-traveled scientists have said it was the most remarkable tree they've
ever seen. I do have photos of some of these PhD's (none related to "Speedy"),
who believe the oak may actually be that old, standing at it's base (off

But I see no point subjecting these distinguished foresters, educated
north of the Mason-Dixon, to public ridicule. If you have information
challenging their assertions, please educate us all.
ENTS is much about measuring the East's tallest native trees. In southern
Appalachia, we seem to have our share of them. Of course, to verify these stats
would mean crossing the Mason-Dixon. If you dare risk a maneating 'gator
encounter, come on down to our beautiful state and show us where we've missed it
(please don't go back to Fort Sumter). If you're like many, you may actually
fall in love with our State and it's great people and decide to move here.


Re: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring
  Oct 06, 2003 15:07 PDT 

A few comments on the thread that has developed.

In the Pacific Northwest, the ecology branch of the Pacific Northwest Research Station has developed a series of several hundred plots to determine site productivity from plant indicator species. Coring trees is one of the many things they do in each plot. When speaking with one of the workers, she indicated that on a return trip 10 years later that every Abies they had cored was dead. Coring will not likely do this to a healthy Douglas-fir or pine that has resinous heartwood, but killed many trees for no good reason. Coring has a place, but good ecological knowledge is often superior.

The Tree of 100 horses, a Castanea, is certainly over 1000 years old, but is a heavily sprouting species. Even when described in the 1700s, the original trunk was dead. Today there are living sprouts but no individual piece of wood is very old.

As for the southern oaks, The lack of tyloses in the live oaks makes it virtually impossible for trees to reach great ages. It is simply another case, like in so many other parts of the world, where size gets equated (maybe over several generations) with age.

Longevity/Excessive incremental boring and tylosses
  Oct 06, 2003 15:57 PDT 


   For those who may not know (which includes me), could I ask you to explain the role of tyloses in oaks? Thanks in advance. What might be the maximum longevity of the live oak as a consequence of the "lack of tyloses". Would you hazard a guess? What are some oaks that have it?

   This is really fascinating stuff.
Re: Excessive incremental boring   Dee & Neil Pederson
  Oct 06, 2003 18:35 PDT 


In today's climate of property rights and to some extent, urbanites
moving out to the country, it is important to be respective of
permission to core/sample. My brief stint on FIA duty made me aware
of this. We were once met by a property owner on his road. He was
friendly, downright cordial and gave us permission to update the plot
on his land. However, he also had a shotgun hanging upside down,
below his steering column and pointing out towards us. Very scary -
one pull of the trigger and we would have been in deep doo-doo. You
never know who or what you will meet out there.

The permitting process length can be variable, depending on who you
are dealing with and the designation of the land. TNC and state and
USFS foresters seem to be the best [easiest]. Even a NPS site was not
too bad. Typically all they ask in exchange is that you share what
you find with them and have less concern about coring damage. I find
they are hungry for the kind of data we collect. That is a good
reason to gain permission. You can share findings with the resource
managers. Isn't that the ultimate goal of much of our research?

NY State may be the hardest in gaining permission for sampling. NYS
[Albany DEC] is very bureaucratic. I have learned that officially,
even if you want to only take GPS points or have a class on NYS land,
you are supposed to apply for a TRP [Temporary Revocable Permit].
But, the TRP permit is simple. The land designation is what hangs you
up. Calling up the wildlife management area technician can sometimes
get you through this process in less than 6 weeks, especially if you
have worked w/ them before. Adirondack Wild Forest lands can take 8
weeks to 6 months [one time it took 9 months]. The state constitution
and the requirement to pass through local and Albany hands really
slows it down. ADK Wilderness areas? Forget it unless it applies
directly to "wilderness management applications." My dealings w/ NYS
managers indicates that most are really curious about what is going
on in their forest. They are so understaffed that they rarely get out
to experience their forest deeply.

I've been rejected by one NYS Park [didn't want me to kill "his"
trees] while another park was easier than any other official NYS
process. A third NYS Park was typical of NYS, though since I was
proposing to study a rarer species in which they had no information,
that was the only way I would have gotten permission to core. If I
was interested in a northern hardwood species, no deal.

Historic sites [mansions] are the most difficult to predict. I think
the lack of a natural resources background makes them hesitant to
grant permission to core. So far I am batting .500 in this category.
Not bad for MLB, at least.

There has been and probably still is an attitude of "it is easier to
beg for forgiveness." From what I've learned though, if you have a
decent project, go through proper channels and share early results
soon after sampling, the path to gaining permission to sample in the
future often becomes much smoother.


Tyloses   Melissa Harty
  Oct 08, 2003 10:52 PDT 

I'll give this try.

How tyloses form: A tylosis forms when a living parenchyma cell adjacent
to the nonconducting element pushes part of its wall and cytoplasm through
a pit into the lumen (space bounded by the cell wall) of the xylem vessel

why: tyloses form in xylem vessels when they become nonfunctional as a
consequence of cavitation (when water can no longer be pulled upward in
xylem b/c of the breaking of hydrogen bond) by age or injury (or during
the transition from sapwood to heartwood). I read somewhere once that
this helps to serve as a defense by inhibiting the spread of pathogens
throughout the tree via the xylem.

growth, drought, etc..: My understanding of this is that it would not
play a role in growth or drought conditions because the tyloses are only
formed in nonfunctional xylem vessels and would therefore not affect the
trees ability to distribute water and slow growth rates. It may help
inhibit pathogen spread as mentioned above and the tyloses do increase
rot resistance.

This is my understanding of the matter.

RE: Longevity/Excessive incremental boring and tylosses   Lee E. Frelich
  Oct 08, 2003 11:39 PDT 

Bob and Paul:

Tyloses are parenchyma cells that balloon out through pits in the cell wall
into adjacent water conducting cells (tracheids in conifers or vessel
elements in angiosperm species). They can form when the cell wall pits are
greater than 10 microns in diameter.

Tyloses are common in a number of ring porous and semi-ring porous trees
including oaks, locusts (Robinia), grapes, mulberry, Sassafras, Catalpa,
Populus, and Black walnut. They block sections of the conducting elements,
and they can be low in number, making the conducting elements shorter, or
in response to a wound or disease, they can be so abundant so as to shut
off water flow and prevent disease from spreading throughout the tree. This
is probably one of the reasons that white oak species are less susceptible
to oak wilt than red oaks. On the other hand, tyloses can work against a
tree in response to disease, such as with Dutch elm disease, when the
tyloses produced in response to the fungus are abundant enough to stop
water flow and kill the top of the tree.

Tyloses are also important for the changeover from sapwood to heartwood,
which has a lot of tyloses in species that produce them.

RE: Year End Report on the 150 Club for MTSF   John Knuerr
  Nov 17, 2003 17:34 PST 

On a less happier note - the Ice Glenn White Pine might just be succumbing
to one to many bore holes from coring. The bottom of the tree's
circumference is covered with at least (to my eye) 10
different holes with a section now appearing to be rotting. It doesn't look
I think researchers are inadvertently "appreciating" this tree to death.

Re: Year End Report on the 150 Club for MTSF   Colby Rucker
  Nov 17, 2003 18:59 PST 


I often hear about people coring trees, but seldom any mention of whether
they had to apply for a permit to deface something that's not theirs.
Although most state and county parks have general restrictions about not
removing rocks or plants, or disturbing wildlife, I wonder how many park
administrators care if their trees get riddled with holes.

Before simply measuring trees at Belt Woods, my written application for a
permit had to be approved by The state, U.S.Fish & Wildlife, and the Western
Shore Conservancy. That can take a year. Ice Glen and other forest
preserves should have no less stringent protection.

I doubt that anyone's been hauled into court, and the laws may prove
inadequate. Perhaps the laws need to be made more specific. If the town of
Stockbridge doesn't care enough about their trees to stop people coring,
perhaps they should. Has anyone discussed the problem with the town

There may be instances where a formal coring study provides useful and
beneficial knowledge, and responsibility for any damages is assured.
Obviously, the excess of holes at Ice Glen doesn't represent formal studies.
Personally, I have little interest in the age of trees beyond recognizing,
by their structure, what era in overall forest succession they represent. I
don't think idle curiosity is an adequate excuse for anyone to deface
someone else's property. Many laws are outdated, and the penalties are
inadequate to deter those who "answer to a higher cause.". Some park fines
are still $25. Destruction of property gets argumentative. Until laws are
adequate, and someone gets hit with a fine of perhaps $500 per tree, the
coring silliness won't stop.