King Island, PA silver maple   Dale J. Luthringer
  Jun 21, 2005 20:00 PDT 

I spent today 'reconning' Thompson Island on the Allegheny River. It's
the next island downstream from Anders Run Natural Area. Thompson
Island is where I have a number of 130ft class sycamore, although I've
yet to be able to set foot on the island. Today was no better.

Since I strained my back last week, I was unwilling to put my canoe up
on my car. So, I thought I'd try to find a shallow spot to make an
amphibious assault. Needless to say, I didn't mount the attack. The
water was just too high and fast on the west side of the river. I again
checked for possible entry from the east side of the river, but again to
no avail. There is either no parking on the narrow berm highway,
private property, or deep water. The only real safe way to access this
island is by boat. Hence, I'll plan an attack for another day.

Not to be thwarted, I decided to recon King Island (or what I believe to
be is King Island). King Island is another island in the Allegheny
River Island Wilderness Area. According to signage, it is supposed to
have "many trees 3-4ft in diameter". It is the first island down river
from the West Hickory Bridge over the Allegheny River. I think I'll
have to plan another amphibious assault, this time to King Island, for
tomorrow. Why, may you ask? Found a dandy silver maple that I scoped
out from the rarely traveled road on the river's west bank. Two nice
shots put it at a steady 123.3ft high! I'd estimate the girth to go at
least 9ft CBH, single stem. Gorgeous tree. Is your 11.1ft CBH x
118.9ft silver maple on 2/23/02 still the highest you've found?

I'm really anxious to see what the rest of this island will hold. I
guess you could call it an island, although the west side of this island
is mostly wetland. lilly pads and bullfrogs galore. Looks like I'll
have to break out the cammo again for tomorrow.

Re: King Island silver maple
  Jun 22, 2005 04:23 PDT 

   Yes indeedy. You have the champ silver maple. Wow. I'm envious. I've measured many silver maples. I do not expect to break 120 in southern New England. PA Rules.

Crull Island, Allegheny River Islands Wilderness, PA Sept 2004
RE: King Island silver maple    Dale J. Luthringer
   Jun 22, 2005 21:16 PDT 

Yeh, I could here you and Jess telling me to get in there and measure
the whole time!

Dude, there’s not even a ditch, just a guard rail. The locals are kind
of unique in this area too and tend to frown on trespassers.... one of
them had an old Yamaha motorcycle on a noose strung up in a tree with a
sign on it that said something like, ‘Japanese Junk’. I felt right at

I reconned King Island today, talk about some monster silver maples!
The sycamore were very nice too. That tall silver maple turned out to
be on a peninsula that juts out into the river just downstream from King
Island. Access is best from a very secluded road on the west side of
the river a couple of miles downstream from West Hickory RT127 Forest
County, PA. This road actually turns into Jamison Run Rd., but is
currently closed when it turns uphill and away from the river.

Beavers have this narrow peninsula dammed up in various places for a
good ¼ mile. Wildlife abounds here. I had turkey on the road before I
even got out of the car. Saw a wood duck with 10 ducklins once I got to
the tall silver maple. Soft-shelled turtles were busy laying their eggs
on the river gravel bars. I just about stepped on the same fawn two
times throughout the day, and brushed past a heron rookery too. Raccoon
were “cooing” to each other as I went past their dens in the bases of
some of the more massive silver maples and sycamores.

It really was quite the mission. Ofcourse, I thought I wouldn’t need my
bug spray… hate the stuff. The bugs were just starting to be an
annoyance (no-see-ums, black flies, mosquitos, deer flies, horse flies).
Black flies in my eyes were the worst, but they really weren’t all that
hungry yet. I’ll give it about 2 weeks and it’ll be ‘hell on earth’ in
there. I would’ve loved to have gone in with just my shorts, but the
poison ivy, stinging nettle, multiflora rose, halbred leaved tearthumb,
and shoulder high ferns and grasses made it a virtual jungle in there.
Most of the time I couldn’t even see where I was putting my feet. The
fawn I kept kicking up almost gave me a heart attack both times. I
almost stepped on it the first time and couldn’t even see it when it was
first ran off. I didn’t know if I had a big raccoon, little bear, or a
deer on my hands.

The peninsula and King Island both have a nice river bottom forest that
would be characteristic of much of the Allegheny River watershed
directly along its banks. The most abundant and canopy dominant tree
was silver maple, followed closely by sycamore, along with a scattering
of white ash, American basswood, bitternut hickory, and black locust
that occasionally made it to the upper canopy level. Slippery elm, and
Crateagus sp. could be found sporadically under the canopy dominants,
with butternut out in open field like settings.

King Island floods periodically. The peninsula gets flooded too, but
not nearly as often. The peninsula is more like a long series of oxbow
lake wetlands from floods and turns in the river of long ago. Soils are
rich and depositional in nature throughout with a cobble stone-like
base. Literature states that the island is 36acres in size with
numerous 3-4ft DBH trees. I was NOT disappointed.

The tall silver maple about 80 yards from the road fleshed out to be
9.7ft CBH x 123.3ft high. Not bad, but couldn’t find any others that
would go into the 120ft class the rest of the day. Near the tall silver
maple was a nice sycamore that went to 13ft CBH x 117.1+ft high. Many
silver maples were fused trunks. I initially got excited with a 12.4ft
CBH x 114.1+ft high silver maple, but at closer inspection found an old
fuse line. I soon had to put my blinders on and zero in on the ‘good
stuff’… 9-10ft CBH sycamores were common as were 10-11ft (single stem)
CBH silver maples.

I crossed over a shallow channel in the river and gained access to King
Island. Whoever named it, named it well. This island is full of “king
size” river bottom trees, at least for northwestern PA. I started to
get excited when I found a full single stem silver at 12.1ft CBH x
102.1+ft, then another at 12.5ft CBH x 106.2+ft. I thought it would end
here… then found a whopper single at 16ft CBH x 114.3+ft. This
ofcourse, warranted a few ‘ents’ calls.

That had to be it, right? Wrong. The next silver I almost walked by
because it was an obvious multi-stem fuse, but as I got closer the shear
size of this bulbous, fused, burly mass deserved closer inspection. All
fuses were above DBH. There were at least 6 stems, 4 large ones, but
all appeared to originate above the heavily burled base. The base of
this thing looked like a plant bulb from all the damage it had taken
over the years from ice flows and flood damage. I could actually walk
up the side of this thing. I ran out of DBH tape measuring this one…
21ft CBH x 84.1+ft tall!

The fused was silver maple was nice, but still wasn’t as impressive as
the huge 16footer a couple dozen yards away. Then I found a true
monster single about 60 yards away, 17.7ft CBH x 101.5ft high!
Absolutely unreal. Felt like I was on another planet. I can still hear
Ed’s voice in my ears, “Did you take any pictures? You didn’t?!” No, I
didn’t. I still haven’t found time to fiddle with the park’s new
digital camera. The center of the tree was hollow. I could’ve stood up
inside it if I wanted to.

After this, I found another nice sycamore at 14.1ft CBH x 119.5+ft, and
a dandy bitternut hickory at 10.8ft CBH x 105.9+ft high before I ran out
island. The day’s tally follows:

Species            CBH     Height   Crown Spread    AF Points

Am. basswood   7.2        90.1+

Bitternut hickory 10.8     105.9+

Silver maple       21         84.1+
fused tree, 6 stems fused high on bulbous trunk
Silver maple       17.7      101.5           88.4           336
Silver maple       12.1      102.1+
Silver maple       12.4      114.1+
Silver maple       16         114.3+         96.4           330.4
Silver maple       9.7        123.3
Eastern U.S. record?

Sycamore         12.6      105.5+
Sycamore         12.5      106.2+
Sycamore         13         117.1+
Sycamore         14.1      119.5+

Bob, that’s 8 more for our 12x100 list.

Scott, what do you have for the Pennsylvania silver maple champ?

Crull Island, Allegheny River Islands Wilderness, PA Sept 2004
RE: King Island silver maple
  Jun 24, 2005 05:08 PDT 

the champ silver maple was measured in 1968 at 282 CBH 93 tall 113 avg spd. It probably isn't around anymore, although it is near me in Chester county, I should go check it out. One I found in Bryn Mawr at a residence was 238 CBH 106tall 36 avg spread. That one was a single trunk, I don't know about the first one, but the spread makes me think it is coppiced. Get us another new champ!!! Western Pa rules! I wish I was out there, sounds like unexplored champion tree land to me.

RE: King Island silver maple   Robert Leverett
  Jun 28, 2005 12:29 PDT 


The silver maple is a species that I ignored for a long time. I think
I was unconsciously influenced by the opinions of several friends toward
it. They described the silver maple to me in pejorative terms: it's wood
is not well suited to lumber; it tends to be a messy street tree with
frequent limb loss; it has a short life; grows where the mosquitos,
ticks, and poison ivy all flourish; has a fall color that is not
spectacular; and has wine-colored spring flowers that are not so showy
as those of the red maple. I must have unconsciously adopted the
attitudes toward the silver maple of my friends about what is truly a
beautiful species.

    Well, thank goodness, I've discovered the err of my ways and am now
bullish on silver maples. I'm also darn jealous of the brute that grows
on Dale's island. Once again, Pennsylvania trumps Massachusetts.


RE: silver maple   Darian Copiz
  Jun 28, 2005 13:03 PDT 

A few more things. Silver maple has finely cut leaves that give it a
sense of elegance. The leaves are silver on the underside, so that in
the wind (especially with dark storm clouds behind)it shimmers. The
fall color is subtle, but can be decent enough, and picturesque next to
black waters. They are fast growing and can become huge. The hollowed
out boles provide homes for wildlife. The scaly bark can be attractive.
The flowers bloom earlier than red maple. The spring sap can be made
into syrup similar to that of the Sugar maple. I think they were just
overplanted in the past and planted in some locations where they should
not have been.