Rucker Girth Index
  Nov 23, 2004 13:52 PST 
Even for the Northeast, 10 species sounds like quite a lot. Also, if we are
truly interested in growth potential, once you past the first 4-5 species,
it would seem that there might be a number of tracts where the remaining 5-6
trees would be hangers on and less adapted to the particular microsite?
Maybe a RI10 and RI4 should be kept for everything (where possible), along
with the HRI. 

And while I'm at it, just to make a complete complicated
mess of everything, fat diameters trees are also very impressive and seem
to me as important as purely tall ones, perhaps a fatness index should be
kept along with the Rucker height index, restricted to count only in forest
(no field) grown trees having single trunks to say 20' or greater above
ground, and just to add even more, something like the American forest great
trees list, except with the restriction that the trees be tall, columnar,
forest grown types, and that crown spread counts for nothing, front yard and
field trees can be very nice, but there are much different breed than
forest grown trees, which I think should have there own list. 

Rucker Girth Index    Edward Frank
   Nov 23, 2004 22:17 PST 


We had quite a discussion last Fall that included ideas about a girth
index. Although we did not bring up the idea of restricting it to forest
grown trees.

I don't see any reason to include the suggested restriction as field trees
are perfectly valid tree specimens. The other problem with this idea is
that the trees in a forest may be of mixed ages and a forest tree that is
exceptionally fat may have grown in a naturally formed open area for much
of its life before being surrounded by younger trees. I like the idea of a
fat tree list and supported it in the discussion archived above.

Certainly the trees on the list should be single trunks.   Some trees
typical growth pattern is to have multiple trunks so I am not sure any of us
are dealing fairly with naturally multitrunked species (Black Willow is an
example.) but some consistency is required for a list to be relevant. I
broached the idea one time for defining a standard tree form for a species
to be included in the database. That would allow multitrunked trees to be
included for those species where this is a predominant growth pattern.

I would like to see a list just for interest, with pictures for the website
of the most unusually shaped trees, generally shaped by unusual growing

I also have been working on some ideas concerning forest and canopy
structure which I see you touch on in your post. More about that later.

Ed Frank
Rucker Girth Index
  Nov 24, 2004 08:17 PST 
While it's true that field trees can be most impressive in their own right, and there are quite a few front yard giants that I find to be wonderful, all the same, there is something quite different about a field grown type tree, where the branches sometimes start not much above BH than the tall rising bole of a forest tree, as well as the feeling of actually being in a forest and seeing a great tree rise up as compared to the feeling of walking down some busy sidewalk and seeing a big tree in that situation.

Many of the trees on American Forest's list for species of the East seem to be field grown and get point from spread and girth, for instance the champion white ash, and yet while impressive, it gets most points from canopy spread and incredible girth below its extremely low down branching starting point, it reminds me nothing of the huge 140' and fat ones I see growing in more wild conditions, which I find in many ways more impressive, and whether or not one does, at the least, it seems that the comparison between field and forest trees is pretty invalid from other standpoints. 

All these seeds they collect from champions for their great genetics, well, first it is hard to sort out growing conditions and genetics under any circumstances, but second, who is to say that forest grown specimens having characteristics that don't let them win by AF criteria, might perhaps not grow more impressively, as judged by AF parameters, were they to be grown in similar open field conditions than the champions or that some of the open field tree champions, were they to be raised in a forest, might fair very poorly and be runts, do we know? It is true that it can be hard to know what to do with a forest tree that seems to have a fair amount of wolf-tree left over characteristics, which also sometimes happens naturally in extremely swampy areas. Kind of a judgment call, maybe something to put an asterisk by. 

Anyway, I should actually have a laser soon and also get myself some CBH measuring tape and start putting in some numbers, mostly I just have vague impressionistic comments and lots of photos at this point.