Cove (Competition for Congaree?)
12, 2002 17:51 PST
Cove occupies approximately 125 acres of rich Brevard Fault Zone
soils in northwestern South Carolina. The easily accessed
cascade at the
top of the cove and the exceptionally dense colonies of
herbaceous plants have made the cove publicly popular, and the
longed been recognized as an excellent example of mixed
The forest has also been identified as old growth with trees in
140-175 year age range at the upper end of the cove (see
articles by L.
L. "Chick" Gaddy). I originally doubted this figure,
but open revisiting
the site that age range seems plausible for that small area of
Steep slopes form an arc that delineate three sides of the east
cove with a beaver produced wet-land at the eastern edge. The
forms where Station Creek flows over a cliff at the western
stream then flows at the intersection of the intersection of the
north-facing slopes and the broad, flat interior of the cove.
facing slopes, the southern portion of the arc delineating the
support most of the mixed mesophytic forest in the cove,
slope in the narrow portion of the cove just below the
primarily white but including black, chestnut, northern red and
post, dominate the flats and the south facing slopes. Redbuds
prolific on these slopes, attesting to the rich soils at the
soils are derived from actinolite and have a pH of approximately
I visited the cove once last winter, but I did mainly
since I didn't feel like answering a bunch of questions about
what in the
world I was doing. I managed to wander off of the trail for a
while and measure 133.4' and 141.8' white at the northern edge
flat. I also saw a white ash, a red elm, a tuliptree, and a
that looked tall, but those trees were close to the trail and I
find a vantage point to measure the black oak from. Last
Saturday I was
going to measure trees in an adjacent cove; however, I felt
lethargic, so I decided to look around some of the less visible
Station Cove. The first tree I encountered of interest was an
healthy looking, 4'9" cbh butternut. In a shallow side cove
tree I measured a 6'1" cbh 139.0' tall pignut hickory, the
first tall tree
of the day but not exceptional for hickories on the escarpment
on the west
side of Station Mountain. From there I went along the north
towards the falls and encountered an area with several nice
northern red oaks. An unusually shaped 10'11" white in this
123.6' tall. I did not measure any of the tuliptrees, but they
reached the mid to upper 140's. The northern red oak that
appeared to be
the tallest is 7'0" cbh and 126.9' tall. One 7'0" cbh
white ash in this
area goes up 61.5' before branching and reaches a total height
I had suspected that ash reached 130' in the area, but in the
of the Station Mountain escarpment (Tamassee Knob area) I had
them into the upper 120s. From there I descended to the narrow
the cove below the falls. This site wildly exceeded my
To keep from blowing the following numbers out of proportion, I
mention that my rangefinder seems to read long, probably by one
yards. I still haven't calibrated it, so these numbers may err
high side. The tree closest to the cascade that I measured is a
white ash that grows among the blocks that have sheered off from
falls. The tree is 8'4" cbh and reaches 133.1' barely
eclipsing the ash I
measured earlier in the day. The next tree downstream of the
falls is the
bitternut hickory that I saw last winter that forks at 64.1'
ground. The total height of the 7'0" cbh tree is 154.1'.
This tree is
easily taller than any other bitternut I know of in SC. The tree
be checked with another laser to see how it compares to the
bitternuts in the Smokies. Most of these comments apply to the
elm that grows a few yards away. The 141.2' measurement for that
amazed me. The relative heights for those three trees agree with
visual appearance of the trees, and I got the ash in the 131' to
range by shooting vertically with my rangefinder. The heights
must be in
the right ballpark. The tuliptree within sight of these trees
cove begins to broaden is 164.8' tall and 7'4" cbh. The
tuliptree is now
the forth one on the Station Mountain escarpment and the forth
one in the
state to be measured at over 160'. Farther down the cove, the
black oak I saw last winter turned out to be 127.7' tall. The
tree is now
the tallest known black oak in SC, but I doubt it will keep that
more that a few weeks. I know of two candidates on the
130' black oaks. Within ten yards of the black oak grows a
overlooked last winter. The 7'8.5" tree shadows the black
oak at 135.3'
Adding chestnut oak to the above trees at 120', which there are
candidates for, produces a Rucker Index of 138.4'. What single
sites of comparably area support comparable indexes. Reducing
area in Station to around 50 acres would eliminate the tall
white oaks and
reduce the index to about 136.5'. After measuring with a more
rangefinder, the gap between Station cove and Belt Woods would
significantly. Baxter Creek, Big Branch, and other coves in the
will probably produce higher indexes with either more species
measured or time. The reference to the Congaree in the subject
from including the area around Tamassee Knob in the computation
Rucker Index. One broad ridge separates Station Cove from the
rest of the
Station Mountain escarpment and the bedrock is probably
the sites, so I think treating the area as a single site is
The taller tuliptree and pignut hickory around Tamassee Knob
index slightly, but northern red oak and shortleaf pine have a
greater effect on the index. With these species included, the
Index for the whole area becomes 142.76'. If I remember
Rucker Index for the Congaree is around 142. Portions of the
still have higher mean canopy heights, and the Congaree has far
voluminous trees; however, the Congaree's title of THE tall tree
Carolina. These comparisons are not intended to belittle any
site, but to
point out the significance of Station Cove and the Station
escarpment. The area has been greatly underappreciated.
Any volunteers to help me document the Station Mountain
Wadakoe Mountain, one of the few little explored sites with the
to be in the same league as the Station Mountain escarpment?
Station Cove (Competition for Congaree?)
13, 2002 05:33 PST
Very, very impressive. You've almost single-handedly put
northern South Carolina on the tall tree-big tree map. The
141-foot white oak you measured becomes only one of a small
handful to break 140 feet, of which I am aware. Another data
point on the species.
I think you can now easily claim the height record for a
bitternut hickory. Good show! We may be able to pull 140 feet
out of Zoar Valley for the species and in New England, about 130
is going to prove to be the limit. Will has exceeded 150 in the
Smokies, but his tree I think is more like 151 or 152.
I'm impressed with the tulip poplars. A South Carolina club of
160-footers is pretty exclusive. With 4 over 160, I's be willing
to bet that you'll eventually measure to to 170.
With respect to your general observation, "The area has
been greatly underappreciated", I'd sat that is an
understatement on under-appreciation. When the northwestern
corner is taken added to Congaree, South Carolina rises to
become one of the top 3 tall tree states in the East - namely
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
ENTS definitely needs to arrange a South Carolina rendezvous to
help you out. With all my hype over our northeastern tall tree
forests, there you are in the Southeast, quietly going about
your business of documenting what is turning out to be the #2
eastern tall tree area, second only to the Smokies!
02, 2003 14:09 PST
went back to Station Mountain yesterday to look at some areas I
seen briefly last may. The tuliptrees were somewhat
are still fairly impressive considering they are growing on
benches on a
steep east facing slope and not in a cove. The tall chestnut
growing in more sheltered areas, but may be under 75 years old.
oaks and northern red oaks in the 120s are scattered throughout
so I didn't take the time to measure them. The
escarpment still has a
few unexplored coves, and little of the area has been measured
Species cbh height
Hickory, pignut 6'11" 144.2'
Hickory, pignut 8'2" 145.8'
Oak, black 6'8" 120.2'
Oak, chestnut 5'9.5" 126.0'
Oak, chestnut 7'7" 140.3'
Oak, chestnut 7'9" 143.9'
Oak, northern red NA 117.3'
Oak, northern red NA 125.3'
Oak, northern red 7'3" 135.0'
Tuliptree 8'8" 147.7'
Tuliptree 7'5" 150.5'
Walnut, black 4'11.5" 121.5'
The tallest tuliptree is in Station Cove. The first live branch
tallest chestnut oak is at 73.3'. The tuliptrees that surround
may keep forcing it upward.