Kalanu Prong, Greenbrier, TN GRSM 4-21-2009 Will Blozan
May 1, 2009


Last Sunday I led a hike into the superlative old-growth forests of the Greenbrier section of the Great Smokies for the Smoky Mountain Wildflower Pilgrimage. My intent was to revisit some of the giant tuliptrees that grow on Kalanu Prong, a tributary of False Gap Prong. One super rich section of this area is known as “Boat Gunnel Flats”, and has historically (until ENTS came along ;) harbored some of the largest specimens of several species know in the Smokies.



At the end of an unofficial trail stands a huge tuliptree Jess Riddle and I named the Trails End Tulip. In 2006 we reticled the first 87’ of trunk to an estimated volume of 2,522 ft3. This specimen has the second largest trunk for the species I have yet seen. At 22’3” in girth and 157 feet tall it is high on my list for a crown mapping and volume climb. Total tree volume would be in the low 3,000 ft3 range, far less than the huge Sag Branch Tuliptree, but likely the second largest tree in the Smokies.




The next targeted tree was the Greenbrier Giant tuliptree that has one of the largest forest-grown girths at 22’11” feet. The immense crown of this huge tree doesn’t have the loft of the other giants and tops out at a mere 146’. The main trunk, though larger at BH than the Trails End Tulip, is shorter, more tapered, and thus would not scale the same volume. A reticle modeling in 2006 indicated the main trunk contained 2,200 ft3. I estimate the tree to contain around 3,000 ft3 of wood.




We proceeded up stream to find another 21’+ tuliptree and soon got distracted by a gorgeous red maple. I lasered the maple from below to ~130 feet and went upslope to perform the full ENTS sine method for the height. I measured the tree to 131.7’ and on the way down spotted a striped maple with a lofty crown. Shooting straight up it was definitely going to exceed 70’. With few known individuals over 70 feet I backed up for the height routine. This 8.2” diameter tree soared to a new species height record of 77.8’!




Heading upstream again we spotted a nice tuliptree that I had not measured before. It was a “new” 20 footer at 20.6’ girth. We did not have time to visit the other huge tree. Regardless, I know of no other cove with at 4 tuliptrees over 20’ in girth that are within 1/3 of a mile from each other.


 There is much more to discover in this area. Unfortunately, despite a beetle release, the entirety of the canopy hemlocks I saw was dead. I had the group search for predator beetles on the surviving smaller trees; none were found.

 Will F. Blozan

President, Eastern Native Tree Society

President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.


One more tree of note from the trip I forgot to mention. Near the Greenbrier
Giant is a massive black cherry 14'2" X 118.7' tall.


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