Sunday, October 27, 2013

Watauga's Champion Sugar Maple Tree

Oh what a magnificent tree~ 
this Sugar Maple discovery. 
A North Carolina Champion Big Tree 
resides here in Watauga County.
It's circumference is 170 inches
It's height is 99 feet
With a crown spread of 81 feet 

this Sugar Maple (Acer sacharum) scored 290 points on the NC Forestry register of Big trees.

I enjoy this contrasting view of the habit of the Champion Maple in contrast to the straight trunks of these two oaks nearby.

This mighty tree has been listed on the North Carolina
Register of Big Trees
in recognition of its being the largest of its species in the area. 
This grand tree is in the Town of Boone, North Carolina. The public works department has maintained a fence and groomed the area around this Champion Tree. The plaque reads "Every effort should be made to preserve and protect this important tree for enjoyment of this generation and those to follow". 
With this, I agree. Many thanks to Bill Barbour who led me to this tree. Enjoy!

We have two other champion trees in Watauga County. Do you know what they are and where? Explore this blog to discover the hidden giants hiding in plain view among us in the High Country.

Champion Willow Tree

Champion Pitch Pine

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Deep Gap Maple comment

This Landmark Maple is directly North of MP 278 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a community heritage tree with a family cemetery beneath it. It is also adjacent to and visible from the Mountains to Sea Trail across from Osbourne Mountain Overlook (200 feet). It is within the Parkway "right of way" and worth the walk up for the view and the contemplation of the heritage notions revealed beneath this Maple.

Ash Tree (a blog reader) makes the following comments...
I live out in Deep Gap. For me, this grand landmark Maple has come to symbolize coming home to Deep Gap's majestic mountains, rolling fields, and pungent smell of cows every day. This tree has been my solace each day I see it reaching closer to the heavens than anything else around.
While seeing this beautiful Heritage Tree brings me joy each day, I am saddened that this Maple is the only tall tree like it for several hundred yards on the top of this mountain. How long has it been alone? What other kinds of beautiful trees once stood near it right outside of the cemetary before they were cut for human purposes?
I hope that this blog and other forms of human passion for trees will preserve the Heritage trees in the High Country, including those younger trees that will some day carry a heritage of their own......
Jump to link:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This Willow is a Champion!

This is an amazing Willow tree! My good friend S.O. told me about it and I had to go check it out!

The small modular building is a class room at Two Rivers Community School in Boone. I think the building helps give a great scale to this HUGE tree.
From this angle you are able to see the height clearly in comparison to the fence posts. Approximately 60 feet is my estimate. Generally willows grow along waterways. I wonder if there was a branch near here when the apple trees and pasture were in use on the farm?
I am always curious of the stories and history these giant old sentinals could tell. When was this last a working farm? Was Archie Carroll road the path to a family farm? Who planted this willow?
I can't wait to go back to see it in full swing, branches draping the ground, blowing, swaying gently in the winds.

Here is a link to a simple drawing technique for rendering a willow form with brush and ink:

Watauga County has Three Champion Big Trees!!! This Willow, a Sugar Maple, and a Pitch Pine.

I'd really like to know where the Champion Sugar Maple is located. It was nominated by the Town of Boone. So I suspect it is in the town limits.

Follow this link to see the other Champion tree of Watauga County, the Pitch Pine.....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oak Summit in Boone

Oak Summit~~~~ there must have been a time???
When this entire ridge was covered in oaks to the summit.
Now, highways surround, cars pass, people notice the sign that says Oak Summit with no notion of the Oaks or any sense of any summit at all.
These heritage oaks have a story. Why have they been saved? When was their nature to be natural and not surrounded by development? Where can they grow and be respected?
May they always reach upward! May they always reach outward! Hopefully in so doing might these heritage oaks grab us and lift us beyond our mundane comings and goings. And remind us of their grandeur, longevity, and heritage.

Oak Ridge in Boone

Oh my, what a mighty oak! And so tall, somewhat unusual in height for mountain oaks.
It even comes with its own signage!
Towering over the building that is named for the trees.
One wonders, will there always be room for these giant heritage trees?
Notice, it is within a few feet of the highway (State Farm Road). How long can it last? Where can it grow?
How many of us pass it each day and not notice?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

5,000 Year Old Tree

Sometimes you have to go waayyyyy out of Watauga County.
All the way to California!
This is reported to be the oldest tree in North America.
National Champion Bristlecone
PinePinus aristata var. longaeva

Inyo National Forest California
Age = 5000+ years

The Bristlecone Pine is among the oldest living things on earth.
Individual bristlecone pine trees may live over 5,000 years.

This tremendous, rugged Bristlecone Pine tree is growing in the Inyo National Forest in southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Its exact location is kept secret to protect the tree from having its roots trampled by visitors.

Bristlecone pines are usualy difficult to date by tree rings, since their complex, massive root systems sprout multiple stems, which die, often to be replaced by new younger shoots.

Simply amazing to ponder!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Heritage Walker

Ok, so this is not a tree. Now. But it was a tree, or part there of. I found this "heritage walker" in the Perkinsville community. I spotted it from the new 421 in the area near the new auto parts store.
Remember, one of the attributes is that a Heritage Tree be one that has been around long enough to be the biggest, oldest, or connected by a story to the person or community. I am sure there is a story behind this tree. Wondering what it is? Why would someone go to the trouble to stand up a root system of a large tree? And to light it up and offer it for others to enjoy?
I call it a Heritage "walker" because it looks like a primitive creature crossing the ridge at night and caught in a spotlight. Not knowing whether to run or flee, it freezes in the spotlight in attempt to imitate a tree root. Pretty good camoflage isn't it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deep Gap Landmark Maple

This landmark maple overlooks the Deep Gap. It is within the NFS Blue Ridge Parkway boundary. It appears the boundary was shaped around this tree and the old cemetery it marks.

It can be seen from the valley below along US 221. Looking north east beyond this ancient maple one can see Mt. Jefferson.

This giant maple has magnificent form. It has spread nicely over the 150 years it has anchored this place on earth. I estimate it to be 150 years because many of the feildstone cemetery markers beneath it are scratched from the 1850s.

It took quite a blow in the last winds and ice storm, dropping several wide spreading lower limbs. Limbs that reached out to recieve the light yet now are no longer capable of sustaining the weight; natures way of pruning its form to withstand another 150 years.
Some of the headstones and markers are piled against the tree base. Having been moved there when found dragged by tractors farming the christmas trees. Winds and ice and storms have not taken this tree, but christmas trees may some day get in the way.

Sometimes I look up through the branches and think about them reaching up into the light. Carrying the heritage of those below into the heavens.

One of the graveyard markers has the date of December 23, 1863. I have wondered about those times in these hills. I wonder what happened that cold December? Could they dig and bury their losses in the freeze of winter? Or would that have to wait on spring?Yellow jonquils and orange gravelillies bloom each spring beneath this maple in the eternal quest for rebirth.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birches, Frost, Ice, and Love...

"Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better"....

by Robert Frost

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Source: The Poetry of Robert Frost (1969).

To read the complete poem or to hear Robert Frost reading this poem follow this link below:

To view a demonstration of an ink and brush rendering of birch trees follow this link:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

TERRA — The Earth Renewal and Restoration Alliance

“Look deep, deep into nature, and you will understand everything.”
Albert Einstein
While the intent of this blog is to explore the Heritage Trees of Watauga County it is also intended to become an opportunity for discovery and awareness of the largest plants on the planet. Sometimes we must venture beyond our own back yard to discover an unknown Heritage.
I found the following to be an interesting website designed to share information about Champion Trees, Heritage Trees, Ancient Forests, and many other Tree and forest resources.
This website on Earth Restoration is an internet service of the New York Champion Tree Project, Inc. a not-for-profit, tax exempt, charitable corporation.

Ancient forests are a source of beauty, peace and inspiration Old growth is habitat for nature's greatest diversity of species These sylvan sanctuaries are rare and endangered We must find these magnificent natural resources, protect these unique ecological communities and restore more land to ancient forest condition.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Wedding Tree............. Daniel Boone Gardens

This 150 year old Black Cherry Tree was in the Daniel Boone gardens in Boone, NC.

It was submitted by a reader who was fortunate enough to see and photograph it before it was lost to storm damage and old age.

This is the comment that was supplied:

"I would like to contribute to the Heritage Tree project. "I have only lived in Watauga County for the past 5 years. "I was drawn to this tree. It was spring when I visited later that year, the tree fell down.

"I was sad that it had gone and gave the Daniel Boone Gardens copies of all of the pictures I had taken that day. They were very appreciative .

"I am not sure how old this tree was, but it seemed firmly grounded with its arms reaching out to the sky.

"They said that it had been the center of the gardens since they had opened and that they missed it's presence. "I could understand that and this is one of its final portraits.
"I hope that my submission is helpful. Andi."
Thanks! I am sure there are other photos and stories associated with this Heritage Tree. Please share! sw

H. Eckess Jones, Jr., a wood-turner from Greensboro who lives in Beech Mountain, presented a bowl he carved from the wood of a limb from the champion black cherry tree.

Recent Art exhibit of Heritage trees

Chickadeedeedee Tree (detail)

Seven Crow Tree (Detail)
Follow the link below for other artists heritage trees

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tree Habits ... student reference studies and demonstrations

"Tree Habits"
refers to characteristic appearance, form, or manner of growth,
that is distinctive to a particular species of tree.
The following examples are reference samples for illustrating
a variety of our Watauga County trees.Pine Tree Habit... Straight trunk, opposite attaching branches, shallow V or obtuse angle for branching, cluster textures for evergreen appearance.
The link below will take you to a short video demonstration of this technique.
Oak Tree Habit.... thick straight trunk, thick alternate branching, right angle attached to trunk then turning upward.
Click on the following link to view the video of this rendering technique.
Oak tree demo here

Birch Tree Habit.... Thin curved trunk, alternate and curving branches, curving thin limbs to twigs. The link below will take you to a short demonstration video of this technique.

Birch Tree Demo here

Willow Tree Habit.... Short broken trunk, thick branching, curved draping limbs and twigs. The link below will send you to a short video demonstration of this technique:

Willow tree demo here

Apple Tree Habit.... Short Broken trunk, thick branching, short downward curved limbs and straight spiking twigs. Follow this link to a short demonstration of the technique for this apple tree habit:

Apple tree demo here

Locust Tree Habit.... Curving trunk, long branches and limbs that curve and stay close to trunk .Hemlock Tree Habit.... Straight trunk, opposite branching, curving upward with great lenght, limbs curve upward and in, some textural clustering at tips.

Hemlock tree demo here

Memory inking of Green Valley Pitch Pine. Brush and india ink.

Read more about this tree in the archives or link to:

Pitch Pine pages here