Western North Carolina Nature Center, Asheville   Will Blozan
  Apr 02, 2005 07:10 PST 

Way back in February, Dale Luthringer and I measured some trees at the
Western North Carolina Nature Center located along the Swannanoa River in
Asheville, NC. I had spotted a pair of tall Virginia pines that I wanted to
measure, and we both needed a break from the 3rd Symposium on Hemlock Woolly
Adelgid, the reason for which Dale was in Asheville.

Our trip was pressed for time, but we did manage to measure representative
trees for an initial Rucker Index. The trees included in the index were
growing in a small cove that is traversed by the Trillium Glen Nature Trail.
The loop trial skirts the north east edge of the cove, drops into the draw,
and then continues up the river for a few hundred yards where it ascends the
other side of the cove and rejoins the beginning of the trail. The cove is
dominated by oaks, primarily northern red (var. rubra) and white oaks. Some
scarlet and black oaks mix in, with a few chestnut oaks on the ridge and
shingle oaks by the river. Tuliptree and basswood are the next most common
species, with pignut and bitternut hickory poking up here and there.

Species diversity was high both in the cove and along the river. Riparian
species included persimmon, red mulberry, northern catalpa (exotic),
Musclewood, black walnut, bitternut, sycamore, and river birch. The cove had
all the oaks mentioned above (except shingle) and some thin but fairly tall
black walnuts. Aside from white pine, Virginia pine was the only other pine
species observed, with several gorgeous specimens that looked to be close to
80 years old. In fact, the entire cove is second-growth ~80 years old.

Our exit from the Nature Center was exciting, as they closed the gates for
the trail at 4:30 PM. These gates are tall and well armed with barbed wire
to keep escaped animals in and humans out. Well, we did not make it by 4:30
PM. Amidst the howling of gray wolves, we carefully scaled the gate and
thought we were home-free. Not so. Walking along the upper trail we were
closely eyed by the wolves which followed our every move. We were glad they
were behind another fence, but their stares still made us uneasy. Another
gate presented the second hurdle in our exit. I was witness to Dale's former
military training, as he gracefully hurled himself over the last gate! After
scaling it, we reached the door of the Nature Center itself, literally as it
was being locked at 5:00 PM.

Here is the tree list:

Virginia pine

3'8"       X          105.7'
4'6"       X          113.2'   NC height record? First time in a Rucker
Index? Tallest in Buncombe County.

White pine

5'2"       X          113.7'

Scarlet oak

6'7"       X          121.5'
n/a        X          118.6'

White oak

10'2"     X          121.3'
7'9"       X          129'      Tallest in Buncombe County.

Black oak

8'7"       X          119.2'   Tallest in Buncombe County.

Pignut hickory

3'7"       X          111.7'


3'1"       X          117'

Black cherry

5'5"       X          102.1'

Northern red oak (var. rubra)

11'        X          132.8'   Tallest in Buncombe County.
5'          X          114.1'
6'1"       X          120.1'
8'4"       X          126.4'
6'1"       X          129.3'


5'9"       X          120.4'
5'6"       X          132.5'

White ash

6.5"       X          127.5'   Tallest in Buncombe County.

White basswood

4'6"       X          109.1'
5'8"       X          111.2

Black walnut

3'9"       X          114.4'   Tallest in Buncombe County.
6'4"       X          105.4'

Rucker Index = 122.07

Incidentally, the entire Nature Center is a Buncombe County Treasure Tree
Preserve, with an adopt-a-tree program. If ENTS had some money, we could
adopt a tree there!

Will Blozan and Dale Luthringer 2/1/2005
RE: Western North Carolina Nature Center, Asheville   Dale J. Luthringer
  Apr 11, 2005 20:00 PDT 

Yes, that was quite the trip. I won't forget the extra motivation that
the wolves gave us quickly get over the fences. One correction though.
I wouldn't say I "hurled" myself over the barb wire fence, well, on
second thought. If you say I "hurled" over the fence, then I'll say you
"hurtled" over the fence!