Laurel Branch Leviathan, GRSM Will Blozan
June 14, 2009



Tuesday, 6/2/2009 I had the opportunity to visit the Laurel Branch Leviathan to assess its recovery from hemlock woolly adelgid treatments. This hemlock is the second largest documented in the Tsuga Search Project and scaled 1,583 cubic feet of wood on a stem 18’4” in girth and 156.3’ high. The tree grows on Laurel Branch in the Greenbrier District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN side. Attending the visit was Joe Chamberlin of the Valent Corporation (who licenses Safari insecticide), Jesse Webster of the NPS, Josh Kelly of ENTS and Wild Law, two SAFC interns, and my brother who was visiting and needed a day in the woods.


Josh, Jenny, Lauren, Joe, Jesse, and me before the “Death March”. Photo by Ben Blozan


It was a gorgeous day and we passed among forest giants of many species. We also passed through or near a predator beetle release site (to combat HWA) which was not looking so good. Some hemlocks were still alive and some actually looked salvageable with insecticide treatments. We found no beetles. Generally though, the great hemlock forests of the area were dead.




Also dead was the Leviathan, a victim of the little sucking beasts and drought. Although treated with insecticides (imidacloprid and dinotefuran) the applications were apparently too late to take effect. This was the largest hemlock in the state of Tennessee and among the tallest documented in the state. It was also due to be a National Champion and was nominated by Jess Riddle, who found the tree in the early 2000’s.




I am not sure what the runner up for largest TN hemlock currently is, but I am sure it is in the Smokies in a conservation area. I hear one of the Tsuga Search trees that was not in the top 15- the LeConte Creek Hemlock- is still alive and scales 1,194 cubic feet. If alive, this tree should take the title.


Jesse Webster and the LeConte Creek Hemlock July 6th, 2007

 Will F. Blozan

President, Eastern Native Tree Society

President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.


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