Holy Grail Hemlocks   Will Blozan
  Feb 25, 2007 18:58 PST 

Last week the Tsuga Search climbed the first hemlock Jess Riddle and I found
that broke 170' tall- the "Holy Grail" of eastern hemlock height. This tree,
which we named "Yughi" (Cherokee for needle), was measured to 171.6 feet
with the laser. The climb and measurement of this slender tree resulted in a
height of 171.7 feet and a volume of 449 cubic feet. Yughi was the last to
be climbed of the three trees we have thus far identified to exceed 170' - a
height that until recently had never been accurately documented. All of
these three trees grow on the same ridge system in Cataloochee Valley, GRSM.
Jess is planning a comprehensive post regarding the superlative trees of Big
Fork Ridge.

Here are the stats on the "Holy Grail Hemlocks"

Tree                  CBH                 CIRC @ 50'       CIRC @ 100'
CIRC @ 150'     Total height       Wood volume

"Usis"                15'5"                 12'0"                 9'7"
3'1"                   173.1'               1533 ft3

"Survivor"          11'8"                 9'8"                   8'2"
2'0"                   172.1'               884 ft3

"Yughi"              9'3"                   6'10"                 5'0"
1'11"                 171.7'               449 ft3

As you can see, they couldn't be more different in trunk size even though
they are only 17 inches different in height. We don't know if we will find
any more hemlocks over 170', but the search continues. Big Fork Ridge has
proven to be exceptional habitat for eastern hemlocks, with more than half
of the fifty known hemlocks taller than 160' being located on this ridge.
There are a few more coves to explore on Big Fork Ridge and of course MUCH
more searching elsewhere in the Smokies.

Will Blozan

President, Eastern Native Tree Society
President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.