Bradley Fork Tuliptree Climbed - another view James Parton
  December 2, 2008


As Will's recent post has already stated, Will, Jason, Jess and I ventured into the forest near the boundary of the GSMNP on Bradley Fork to climb and measure the tall Tuliptree Jess found there a couple of years before. It was a dreary rainy day but it made the forest all the more beautiful. After crossing the river we made it up into the ravine passing some nice trees along the way, including a Sycamore that was over 150 feet tall. Most trees did not have really large girths but were really tall. We located Jess's tree and started unpacking our gear getting ready for the climb. It was really different standing under the tree and aiming the laser into the canopy and getting readings above 50 yards!  I realized then that the tree was really a giant. While Will was trying to set the line into the tree, Jess was examining the flora on the forest floor and found three types of fern there. Goldie's Fern, Wood Fern and Christmas Fern. Christmas Fern I know
 of and I think I have heard of wood fern, I think they are two species, but I had never heard of Goldie's Fern. It was in my opinion the prettiest of the three. Anytime you are in the woods with Will or Jess, you are gonna learn something!  As Will started up the tree it really gave me an idea of it's size. Will just kept getting smaller and smaller as he ascended the tree.

( Bradley Fork Tuliptree Climbed by Will Blozan )


 Another thing I noticed was the young-looking bark on the tree. Jess and Will estimate it's age at around 100 years. The tree is more than 13' cbh and has grown like crazy over the years. It also lacks the overly heavy thick limbs of really old-growth specimens. That 11' 5" cbh tulip that I measured recently near Lake Julian is almost certainly older with older bark and heavier limbs, though it is not nearly as tall.

While Will and Jason measured the tree, Jess went up one hillside looking for more interesting flora while I went up the hillside on the trees right looking for other tall trees. Will hollered down to me that he could see a nice oak upslope. As I climbed upslope it seemed to take me awhile to get as high as Will. This excited me because the chance of it being a record looked promising. I found several nice trees in which the measurements are below. I scouted only a part of the mountainside and Jess mentioned finding a 160 ft class tulip and 140ft class Black Locust there in the past.

While measuring I heard Will holler excitedly. I knew then that the tree had broken at least one record. I was hoping it had broken the Black Cottonwood's height record. Later I found out that it did!

The tree turned out to be 181.35 feet tall!  A record. With native hardwoods, Liriodendron Tulipifera now rules!!

The trip out was easier than the one in with Will and Jess stopping to measure a birch leaving I to admire a silverbell before walking up to see what Will and Jess were measuring.


On the way out via a foot bridge we passed a big Sycamore with a circumference probably better than 15 feet. Jason took my picture at the base of the huge tree.

On the way out I noticed the hemlocks along the trail looked better than in the forest. They had been treated.

Not long after we reached the car the raining increased. We stopped by a shop in Cherokee to get coffee before returning home.

I congratulate Jess Riddle on finding such a magnificent tree. Now what name it, Jess? I am sure you will find a name fitting of such a great tree. A fitting name would be the " Riddle Tuliptree "!, at least in my opinion.

                             cbh            height

Tuliptree                8' 9 1/4"      137.3'

Tuliptree                6' 7"            132.1'

Tuliptree               10' 1"           158. 0' !  ( This might be the 160 ft class tree Jess found. )

Red Oak               11' 2"!          114.6' 

Black Locust         6' 6"            124.5'

It was a great trip. Can't wait till Congaree!!

JaJames Parton.