Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The FAST GROWING giant oaks of the Congaree

Thanks once again to Walter for this great link to a Native Plant Society field trip report on the giant trees of Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

The only problem with these cool links is that they keep adding new places to my list of places I must visit before I croak.  Sadly, the the length of the list of places I need to visit keeps growing, while the number of years before I get out of the proverbial canoe continues to diminish.  Oh well, c'est la vie (or, for the glass-half-empty types out there, c'est la mort).

Pulling a quote from the linked page:

The second tallest tree is of all things an oak! The incomparable cherrybark
oak (Quercus pagoda) is one of the fastest growing, widest and tallest trees
in the east. Jess and Ed confirmed one to 160.2' tall, making it the 6th
hardwood species to join the "160 Club", joining tuliptree, sycamore, pignut
hickory, black locust, and white ash. If 160' tall wasn't enough, we found
one that measured 154' across! Folks, these trees are immense! I am baffled
by the sheer strength of the wood to hold a canopy so high and so wide
through so many hurricanes.

Utterly massive.  160ft tall with a 154ft crown spread.  Wow.  That monster shades nearly 1/2 acre (actually it's probably more than that, depending on the time of day, angle of incidence, and ... but I'm not smart enough to do that math, just a big enough tree geek to think of it).

And I know regular readers will have caught the money phrase (at least as far as I'm concerned):  cherrybark oak is one of the fastest growing trees in the east.

The widespread - and utterly erroneous - preconception of oaks as the quintessence of slow growth has kept people from planting them in the numbers that they should and must.  It's a preconception we must fight.

As a guy who grew up among the relative pygmy oaks of Minnesota and who now lives among the true pygmy oaks of the California central coast (the former due to a 12 day growing season, the latter due to coastal fog combined with sand dune soil), I would love to stand in the shade and glory of 160ft tall oaks.

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