Tamassee Knob   Jess
  May 09, 2002 20:44 PDT 
     Tamassee Knob is an approximately 1800' peak in the northwestern
corner of South Carolina. The peak is connected to the plateau-like
Station Mountain. The ridge and Station Mountain rise 300 to 500' above
the adjacent lowlands to the east. A set of very steep slopes at the top
of the ridge and the upper slopes of the mountain mark the edge of the
Brevard Fault Zone. The Brevard Fault Zone is underlain several types of
carbonate rich rocks, included narrow marble outcrops. In the vicinity of
Tamassee knob actinolite is probably the most prominent bedrock. These
calcium laden rocks are a major factor influencing the species present in
the area and the exceptional growing conditions. This fact is particularly
noticeable on the exposed east facing slopes approximately half a mile
south of the ridge. The canopy is composed of tuliptree with scattered
northern red oak, white ash, bitternut hickory, and either pignut or red
hickory. Black walnut is common in the area as a sum canopy. Below the
walnuts, red bud forms an occasionally thick understory and herbaceous
plants form a thick groundcover. Where the slope turns to face partially
to the south, tuliptree loses dominance and white oak, black oak, and
chestnut oak become more common.

     The wetness of Saturday and the density of the summer time canopy
restricted my visit to the east facing slopes primarily to reconnaissance.
The only trees I was able to get good numbers on were a 9'6" cbh, 108.8'
tall black oak and an 8'0" cbh, 119.3' tall black oak. In the immediate
vicinity of the taller oak are two other black oaks that are probably
around 120' tall. Several of the second growth tuliptrees in the area
probably reach 150', some of which are also 10' cbh. The most impressive
trees I saw in the area were two chestnut oaks in adjacent north facing
coves. Both trees exceed 130', and are easily the tallest known
individuals of the species in South Carolina. More thorough measurements
of the area will have to wait until winter.

Jess Riddle

Tamassee Knob    Jess
   Mar 15, 2003 13:03 PST 
Late in February, I returned to the area around Tamassee Knob and further explored some coves I had previously seen. The density of exceptional trees in some of the coves, especially the largest northeast facing cove, allows many trees to escape notice on a cursory review of the area; consequently, most of the trees listed below are near trees that I had previously measured, but were not themselves measured. Other interesting aspects of the area include the unusually weak correlations between species composition and topographic position species composition and aspect. While chestnut oak and red maple occupy much of the top of the main ridge that the coves have developed around, white oak, northern red oak, and white ash form a canopy over 100' high on one section of the ridge top. Nearby east facing, exposed slopes are dominated by tuliptree with scattered bitternut hickory, white ash, northern red oak and black walnuts with some individual tuliptrees that will exceed 150' this decade.

Species Cbh Height Cove aspect Comment
Basswood, White NA 127.3' NE 2nd tallest known in SC
Hickory, Pignut 8'3.5" 143.5' NE 7th tallest known in SC
Oak, Black 7'2" 121.3' NW 8th tallest known in SC
Oak, Black 6'9" 126.4' S 3rd tallest known in SC
Oak, Black 7'9" 129.2' NE tallest known in SC
Oak, Northern Red NA 120.9' NE
Oak, White 9'10" 119.8' NE
Oak, White 8'1" 130.8' S tied 5th tallest known in SC
Oak, White 8'1" 132.8' S 4th tallest known in SC
Pine, Shortleaf 5'9.5" 133.1' NE 4th tallest known in SC
Pine, Shortleaf 6'3" 139.4' SE tallest known in SC
Sweetgum 6'2" 129.3' NE
Sweetgum 8'2.5" 139.3' NE tallest known in SC outside of CSNM
Tuliptree NA 142.6' SE
Tuliptree NA 157.1' S

The 130.8' white oak was measured last year at 129.7', and the tree grows
within sight of a 8'5" x 134.6' white oak that was measured last year.
The taller shortleaf pine was previously measured as being 140.3' tall. I
had an excellent view of the top and partially obscured view of the base
this time, but I think going with the more recent measurement is fair
until a better vantage point for measuring the tree is found. A dense
stand of sweetgums grows in the alluvial soils at the mouth of two coves,
but the largest sweetgum grows in a small flat within the largest cove.
The tree has a broad crown of upturned twigs and shows no signs of storm

Jess Riddle
Re: RE: Tamassee Knob    Jess
   Mar 16, 2003 20:41 PST 
The coves lie at the intersection of the Blue Ridge and Piedmont. The
top of Tamassee Knob is around 1780'. The exceptional tree growing
conditions are concentrated between 1200 and 1500'. The rich soils of
Station Cove, a couple of miles to the south, extend down to 1100', and
large black oaks dominate one bench around 1700' within site of the top of
the top of the knob. The low elevations and southerly latitude probably
contribute to yellow buckeye's inability to grow above the midstory in the

Jess Riddle