Porters Bowl   Jess Riddle
  Oct 19, 2003 19:10 PDT 

Last weekend I went looking for new height records in the Greenbrier
section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Within that area, I
wanted to visited an area gentle, north-facing slopes bounded by steep
slopes on three sides forming a bowl. The flat bottom and rich soils of
this well sheltered, moist area probably made the site prime farm land
prior to the formation of the park. I saw one rock cairn in the lower
part of the area and a couple of terraces, but no rock walls; the
rockiness of the cove may have prevented farming the entire area. Either
as a result of farming or logging, tuliptrees have been able to form a
nearly pure stand over much of the area. Striped maple and hemlock area
the most common species in the understory of this 65 to 80 year old
forest. Basal areas are high, especially around the edges of the bowl and
on the north facing slopes just west of the bowl closer to Porters Creek,
but canopy gaps up to about an acre in size are also common. Tuliptrees
are more scattered and slightly larger in diameter on the steep,
north-facing back of the bowl. Sugar maple, yellow buckeye and bitternut
hickory are more common on these boundary slopes, which appear to have
been only selectively cut in the past.

Species Cbh Height Drainage Comment
Ash, White 6'6" 141.5' Bowl New TN. record?
Hickory, Bitter NA 120.6' Bowl Easy shot
Hickory, Bitter 12'10" ~131' Bowl Some root flair in measurement, but
massive tree, did not explore above tree
Locust, Black NA 125.0' Bowl 130'+ seen, 140'+ likely present
Oak, N Red coppice ~133' Bowl Uncommon sp. in area
Sassafras 3'3.5" 109.6' Gap Several comparable trees in grove
Sycamore 7'0" ~131' Creek Species absent from bowl
Sycamore NA 135.4' Creek A few others of comparable height
Tuliptree NA 140.2' Creek
Tuliptree 9'0" 141.8' Creek
Tuliptree NA 143.8' Creek
Tuliptree NA 149.1' Bowl
Tuliptree NA 149.9' Bowl
Tuliptree 6'3.5" 151.8' Creek
Tuliptree 7'2" ~152' Creek Slingshot, very low codominant
Tuliptree 7'8.5" 152.7' Creek
Tuliptree NA 153.3' Bowl
Tuliptree NA 154.7' Creek
Tuliptree 5'4.5" ~155' Creek
Walnut, Black 7'2.5" ~125' Creek Several codominant leads

8' cbh Tuliptrees were generally common, and some of the shorter trees
closer to Porters Creek exceeded 10'. The canopy height in the middle of
the bowl is probably a consist 130' something. I feel certain that some
of the tuliptrees reach 160' in the area. Since the bottom of the cove
covers about 100 acres, the above listing of a part of a day's worth of
searching just scratches the surfaces of the area. The back wall of the
cove may support taller bitternut hickories and ash as well as more tall
tuliptrees. Also, three, steep, narrow coves just west of the bowl that
open into densest tuliptree stands I saw were not searched.

Jess Riddle