Overton Park, TN    Jess Riddle
   May 28, 2006 12:18 PDT 


Overton Park lies within urban Memphis, Tennessee but above the
Mississippi River floodplain. A network of closed roads, trails, and
a small stream spider across the park's 342 acres of low, gentle hills
(http://www.parkfriends.net/The%20Old%20Forest.htm). Lawns with
scattered trees, a nine hole golf course, and a playground occupy
roughly half that area, but a hardwood forest with many trees
exceeding 150 years old envelops the remainder of the park. The heavy
and intrusive recreational use and abundance of well established
exotic species obscure the forest's disturbance history, but the site
has repeatedly been recognized as old-growth (Davis Old-growth in the
East: A Survey).

img_5958a.jpg (63634 bytes) gorgeous White Oak

In March, patches of cutleaf toothwort, may-apple, and a yellow violet
add color to the forest floor. At a larger scale, the colonies of red
buckeye and Chinese privet grow in the understory, sometimes with
Japanese honeysuckle crawling over them. Similarly, paw paw, American
hornbeam, and eastern hophornbeam occupy the midstory in different
sections, and paper mulberry has invaded one area. The ubiquitous,
large tuliptrees and cherrybark oaks make the overstory more
consistent, and white oak, sweetgum, and shumard oak are also common
canopy members.

img_5962a.jpg (64473 bytes) huge Common Paw-Paw

Species                   Cbh      Height
Ash, White             12'3.5" 120.2'
Cherry, Black         6'11"    106.2'
Hickory, Bitternut 8'8"      124.8'
Oak, Black             11'6"     115.7'
Oak, Cherrybark    15'6"     142.2'
Oak, Cherrybark    17'6"     142.7'
Oak, Northern Red 13'3"    121.0'
Oak, Post                9'7"      103.3'
Oak, Shumard         12'4"    129.9'
Oak, Shumard         14'9"    132.5'
Oak, Shumard         16'5"    135.5'
Oak, Shumard         11'9.5" 137.1'
Oak, White             14'7"    125.2'
Paw paw                 1'4"      50.8'
Paw paw                 2'3"      51.6'
Sweetgum              10'9"     127.6'
Sweetgum              12'3"     128.6'
Sweetgum              13'8"     136.0'
Sycamore               9'0"       130.3'
Sycamore               12'9"     132.0'
Sycamore               15'4"     136.9'
Sycamore               12'8"     142.6'
Tuliptree                15'1"     147.4'

Rucker Height Index: 131.3'
Tuliptree                147.4'
Cherrybark Oak     142.7'
Sycamore               142.6'
Shumard Oak         137.1'
Sweetgum              136.0'
White Oak              125.2'
Bitternut Hickory   124.8'
Northern Red Oak 121.0'
White Ash              120.2'
Black Oak               115.7'

Rucker Circumference Index: 13.9'
Cherrybark Oak      17.5'
Shumard Oak          16.75'
Sycamore                15.3'
Tuliptree                 15.1'
White Oak               14.6'
Sweetgum               13.7'
Norhtern Red Oak 13.25'
White Ash               12.3'
Black Oak                11.5'
Post Oak                  9.6'

fnc_shumard_oak.jpg (44218 bytes) Former national champion Shumard Oak

The cherrybark and shumard oak heights are new state records for ENTS
since we had not previously measured those species in Tennessee. The
northern red oak listed above was the only one seen at the site. Post
oak is also uncommon in the park, but another individual may be even
taller; the current height record for the species is 105.0'. The paw
paw is a potential Tennessee state champion and has a TDI of 163 (max
3'0"?, 58.8'). The sweetgum is also a new state height record, but
that species had previously only been measured in the mountains.

Jess Riddle & Will Blozan

Re: Overton Park, TN   Jess Riddle
  Jun 02, 2006 17:17 PDT 


Correction. Michael Davie reminded me that the sweetgum at Overton
Park are not the tallest ENTS has measured in Tennessee. In fact,
they're not even close. Savage Gulf has a 150.1' sweetgum.