Pennsylvania Musings:  Dale Strike's Pay Dirt    Dale Luthringer
   Nov 28, 2003 12:24 PST 


Yes, Linda better lock the door. Being stuck indoors and at the will of my
wife has me chomping at the bits... She loved the feeling of power as she
ignored my recent tips during my last bout of back seat driving. I told her
that I had to "temporarily relinquish my authority"... she'll just tell you
that she was always in charge anyway!

The yellow birch is the tallest we've found so far in PA. I was beginning
to think that I'd have to go to the Adirondacks to find a yellow birch over
10ft CBH though. I was also starting to think they didn't exist in PA that
big in forest grown form.

It looks like you've got all the tallest listed for the state, including
Will's magnificent finds in Fairmont.

Ricketts Glen was interesting, being that it was a geographical transition
area. The park guide said it is a meeting ground for both northern and
southern hardwood forests, although I couldn't find information on the
underground geologic formations that might aid their development. The many
white ash and old tulips made a stark contrast for me when compared to the
old hemlock and white pine, then throw in the old sugar maple for good
measure. I think some interesting patterns have developed here in terms of
acid:base soil and the trees that prefer these sites.

Topica problems continue to persist. It looks like topica doesn't like
'hotmail' too well. I'm only receiving some of the ENTS e-mails at this
address. They were originally throwing some of the ENTS e-mails into the
'junk e-mail' folder. So, it looks like I won't be able to read/respond to
all e-mails proficiently until I get back on my feet. I'll try and check
the topica website specifically from time to time.

Pennsylvania Musings:  Dale Strike's Pay Dirt    Bob Leverett
   Nov 2003 12:24 PST 


    My 3 whirlwind visits to Ricketts Glen left me wondering what was really
there and your two-day visit has answered the question convincingly.
Absolutely stellar trip report, Dale. ENTS at its best. In addition the
yellow birch soars to the top of the PA yellow birch list doesn't it?
Splendid tree. No toothpick upstart.

    I was tickled at the high Rucker index. I thought Ricketts Glen deserved
a high number, and By Jove, now it has its just due. Logically, PA should
have lots of good sites with relatively high Rucker indices. The latitude is
right. Some species are yet to get their place in the sun. Cottonwood and
sycamore will eventually produce some very high numbers as should black

PA is firmly on the top of NE state lists.

Species         Hgt

White pine 181.3
Black cherry 140
Sycamore 139
Tuliptree 158.6
E. hemlock 145.3
red maple 136.6
White ash 135.7
N. red oak 135.2
Bitternut h. 134.2
White oak 124.8

Rucker index 143.07

      Have I missed anything? The 143.07 jumps well ahead of Mass and New
York. In time sycamore will climb into the mid-140s and a 140-foot white ash
will be confirmed. My prediction is that PA's index will eventually reach
145. I think that North Carolina's index is currently about 163, counting
Mike's pignut hickory confirmation. I suspect the overall north to south
differential will prove to be about 20 points.

     I'm sure it is a bummer being down, but you'll build up a tremendous
tree measuring debt. When you are back on your feet, Katie bar the door - or
perhaps Linda lock the door, if your wife wants to keep you inside.


Re: Dale Strike's Pay Dirt
   Nov 28, 2003 15:24 PST 


   PA's Rucker index is already higher than I thought any state index in the the Northeast would go. What I hadn't taken into consideration when we first started using the index was the differences within the life cycles of the tree species we follow as to when they reach their maximum heights. Mature second growth stands produces the overall tallest forests although the longer lived a species, the later it achieves its greatest height. I suspect that white pine ordinarily achieves its greatest height between 150 and 200 years, although I think some reach their greatest heights much later. What are your thoughts on the time cycle?

RE: Dale Strike's Pay Dirt
   Nov 28, 2003 18:31 PST 


The only '2nd growth approaching old growth' site in PA that I have a
good amount of data to compare with to old growth is the Wintergreen
Gorge site along Lake Erie, and this site is mostly all hardwoods. The
tallest tuliptrees and white ash here are probably somewhere in the
100-150 class and surpass the tallest heights of these same species in
old growth at Cook Forest. The Wintergreen Gorge site is mostly
protected via the steep sides, although there has been some fairly
recent blowdown events in the tall tulips that have opened things up a
bit and changed some crown structure. Few red oaks have reached old
age here and barely break 105-110ft. I've found very few white oak here
(probably none).

Here are my estimates of ages for the PA trees I've measured. I'm not
sure of Will's finds in Fairmont, although I don't think he thought
those would go over 175 years:

Species        Height    Est. Age Site        Slope Aspect

White pine     181.3     225-275   Cook Forest west
Black cherry   140       175-225   Cook Forest east
Sycamore       139          ?      Fairmont     ?
Tuliptree      158.6        ?      Fairmont     ?
E. hemlock     145.3     300+      Cook Forest south
red maple      136.6     75-100 Wintergreen west/bottom steep gorge
White ash      135.7        ?      Fairmont      ?
N. red oak     135.2        ?      Fairmont      ?
Bitternut h.   134.2        ?      Fairmont      ?
White oak      124.8     225+      Cook Forest flat/next to trib

I'm sure Will puts the Boogerman Pine at over 200 years, 250-275 would
be my guess, and we know that tree went over 200ft. Most of what I
would call my oldest white pine would definitely not be the tallest,
although the Seneca Pine at 172ft, and the Anders Run Pine at ~163ft we
could probably put in the 350 year age class. The Wintergreen, and I
suspect the Fairmont site also, probably has some fairly neutral soils,
but Cook Forest would definitely side to be more acidic in relation to
its tall conifers.

Zoar Valley is probably comparable to Wintergreen in terms of soils and
steep valleys, although Wintergreen is on a much smaller scale. I
wonder what Tom & Bruce has for estimated ages on their tallest trees at
Zoar? I know the tall red oak (~131) wasn't very old. I'd say
definitely less than 100.

It's definitely a hard thing to put my finger on, but it would seem to
make the most sense that overtime, the greatest percentage of the oldest
(200+) trees in a protected site, with similar soils and aspect, would
be shorter than younger trees (100-200) in the same site. You just take
too many chances over a few centuries to not have your top blown off,
fried, or frozen to get to be record breaking tall at the end of your
life stage. We all know that many of our oldest trees, are our smallest

Old pines    Will Blozan
   Nov 29, 2003 06:07 PST 


I would bet anything the Boogerman Pine is 350 years old. The "Q-tip Pine"
next to it was cored in 1993 and is now 345 years old at b.h. However,
"Dale's Demise", one of the other 180'+ white pines in the Smokies, is
probably less than 120 years old.