Sumac Cookie  Edward Frank
  October 09, 2007

TOPIC: Sumac Cookie 

== 1 of 9 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 9 2007 4:35 pm
From: "Edward Frank"


I was driving down the road the other day near my home here in Reynoldsville, PA. There were a series of dead staghorn sumac trunks standing under a power line along side of the road. The largest was about 8 inches in diameter near its base. I stopped and pushed it over, but it was too large to get into my van. The next morning I stopped back and chopped off a section of the base with an electric chainsaw.

Tonight I cut a cookie from near the base of the sumac stump. It varied from 8.5 to 7.5 inches in diameter. Counting the rings I found it to be 21 years of age at its death. The widest point on any band was just a hair over 5/8th of an inch. I have often wondered how old some of these specimens might be. There are several other large dead ones around here I may collect.

While on Baker Island, in the Allegheny River Islands Wilderness a month ago there were several large standing dead sumacs in the grassy end of the island. This are of the island was once forested until hit by a pair of tornadoes in 1985. These sumacs likely date from that disturbance. I am not sure why they have died, but they would be 21- 22 years old if still alive today as they are among the first opportunistic species to repopulate disturbed ground.

The largest I have measured had a cbh of 1.9 feet and grew along the Clarion River at Cook Forest. The current PA state champ has a listed cbh of 34 inches and is 43 feet high, but it has not been confirmed by Scott or other ENTS members. The national champion according to American Forest is in Alabama with a cbh of 50 inches and a height of 61 feet.

I have posted a scan of the sumac cookie on the website at: 

I am curious how long this species can live. If any of you have any good numbers, please post them.

Ed Frank

Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. Fall is the Artist.....Takayuki Ikkaku.

== 5 of 9 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 9 2007 5:10 pm
From: James Parton


I never knew Staghorn Sumac could get that large. The biggest I have
seen around here ( Asheville NC ) had a diameter of 5 inches at
breast height. Most are considerably smaller.

James Parton.

== 6 of 9 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 9 2007 5:27 pm
From: "Jess Riddle"

Ed, Ents;

I'm glad to see a little age data coming in on the smaller tree
species. I've been curious how long both the shade tolerant and shade
intolerant live. A recently fallen, 25" cbh devils walking stick in
the Smokies was 31 or 32 years old, but rhododendron can live well in
excess of 100 years.

I strongly suspect the national champion staghorn sumac in Alabama is
misidentified. The species is only native to one or a few sites in
the state. Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) has a generally
similar appearance, grows much larger, and is far more common in


== 7 of 9 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 9 2007 5:37 pm
From: "Edward Frank"


Nice to hear from you. I have been thinking the same thing about the
Alabama specimen. I think you suggested it last year when we were at the
Forest Summit in MASS. I also am wondering about the specimen in PA. It is
in Luzerne County, which is heavily infested with Tree of Heaven. That is
why I made the point that nobody from ENTS has confirmed it. Of the 350 or
so species in Eastern United States, only 55 have ages that appear on Neil's
Old-List I would like to see
what information could be collected on the other species. I am sure that
others were cored as parts of various studies, or had tree ring counts done
for them. These may not be cross-correlated like most of the trees on the
list, but basic ring counts would give some better idea of the life spans of
some of these species. A compilation of basic tree ring counts for some of
these additional species could be a publishable paper.

I have thought about posting a request to the tree ring forum. Everyone who
contributes a date can be a co-author. I might get more co-authors than
data. In any case inclusion is a listing would see the basic information
published, and would not preclude a more detailed publication of the
information as part of another paper.

Maybe I could talk Neil Pederson, or David Stahle, or one of our other
dendrochronology people to participate in the compilation.

Ed Frank

== 8 of 9 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 9 2007 9:39 pm
From: James Parton

Yes, I misindentified the Ailanthus for years until learning the

James P.

TOPIC: Sumac Cookie

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Wed, Oct 10 2007 10:40 am
From: "Neil Pederson"


Yes, there probably have been many other species sampled through
dendrochronological methods. However, the best documented data is often
dendroclimatological in nature and, in particular, drought-related. Modern
dendro in the east began in earnest roughly 40 yrs ago. Much of the ensuing
research focused on climate. Modern dendroecology started around the same
time, but didn't have the same archiving structure that dendroclimatology

Tree-ring analysis is currently exploding in the east, esp. in the field of
ecology. Reflecting this, in 2000 it was decided that the International
Tree-Ring Databank would 'allow' submission of tree ring records less than
100 yrs in length; prior to that, records shorter than 200 yrs were
discouraged. So, I anticipate a real blossoming of the science and a
fruition of data in the east over the coming decade. In fact, just last
week I was contacted about the max age for mountain laurel [Kalmia
latifolia]. I responded that I wasn't sure of what its max age might be [I
don't claim to being a max age expert - I just want this data saved,
discussed, made public, & analyzed when that day arrives]. I was told to be
expecting a submission for mountain laurel in the near future.


ps - a compilation of ages would be great for the ENTS journal. i'm just
not sure how many submissions you'll get from the dendro community. My call
to them last yr garnered a decent response, but the data line has slowed
significantly. It is not on the top of everyone's research list. Worth a
try, of course.

== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Wed, Oct 10 2007 11:39 am
From: "Edward Frank"


I will post a call to the tree ring forum and to ENTS members and whoever else I can think of. I was think the ENTS Journal for the outlet also. It will take a few days to write up a good proposal. Did you do anything with the basswood cookie?

Ed Frank