Several unique Sitka Spruce are shown in photos below. Most are among the largest known in the state of Oregon. Because this species often germinates on top of old stumps, the trunks tend to be unusually broad, making measuring rather subjective when comparing one to another. They are all marvelous examples of the potential in the Pacific NW forests.
To begin, a few photos of Cape Meares Spruce which in 2008 replaced Klootchy Creek Spruce for largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon. Click thumbnails pics to enlarge with captions.
The Klootchy Creek Giant Spruce is shown below in 2004 while it was still alive. It looked even more impressive before the deck was built, hiding the huge buttresses. Located about 6 miles east of Seaside, Oregon, along the Oregon Coast.
The Klootchy Creek Spruce - Picea sitchensis - broke in a storm, December 2, 2007. It was 204 feet tall, 16.7 feet diameter dbh, and over 850 points on the National Champion list.
It was a co-champion with the Washington Sitka Spruce at Quinault.
Even the remnants are interesting. Already, native plants are slowly engulfing the sections of trunk. Read more about the Klootchy Creek Giant below pertaining to spruce-versus-spruce.
Cape Meares Spruce
New Oregon Champion Spruce Replacement
After the breakage and collapse of the Klootchy Creek Spruce, another Sitka Spruce near Tillamook and Cape Meares, became the new Oregon State "official" champion with 743 points (2011), though only 144 feet tall. It was measured by the folks from Ascending the Giants. This is also along the Oregon Coast.
Its down a short trail at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and National Wildlife Refuge.
The trunk measurement has been published at 152.27 ft. diameter, or 576 inches circumference. That may include the protruding burl. Crown spread is 93 ft.
Discovery: The photo below is the Falcon's Tower Sitka Spruce in Oswald West State Park. It's not the same as Raven's Tower, world's tallest Spruce in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by Klamath, CA ... the names can be easy to mix-up. Raven's tower is 317.19' tall. I discovered the Falcon's Tower Spruce May 22, 2011, and did a quick measure solo. This was on the heels of our Jan. / Mar. 2011 World's Tallest Pine & Tallest Hemlock discoveries.
This Spruce has been measured by the Oregon Registry representatives: results are included in Falcon't Tower Part II farther down.
Falcon's Tower Sitka Spruce shown in this photo was estimated at 706 points in May, 2011.
July, 2011, I returned with help for a 2nd preliminary measure ...
Height - 224 feet
Circumference - 502 inches
1/4 Crown Estimate - 23 feet
Total Points - 749 points
About 15 feet broke off the top in the past. This Spruce was around 240' previously.
The circumference of 502 inches means the trunk measures 13.31 feet in diameter at DBH.
For height, this towers over the stubby 144' Cape Meares Spruce.
There is about 10 feet elevation difference between the high and low sides of the trunk. The photograph shows a steep hillside.
The exact location is undisclosed for now, and it is difficult to reach safely.
I finally nominated Falcon's Tower to the Oregon Registry, August 2011.
Comparison of this Spruce to the Cape Meares Sitka was based on the AF | American Forest system.
The American Forest point system is inherently weak because it does not measure wood volume. One scientist recently shared that "wood volume" measurement would be the "only" way to really measure for champion size. But the American Forest system does not take that path. The AF approach does provide the average person with a chance to find exceptional specimens and submit them as a potential champs.
Click these for a few extra views. Captions should be underneath.
Based on wood volume alone, Cape Meares Spruce should be the larger one. But Falcon's Tower Spruce towers higher by 66% worth of Cape Meares Spruce's 144' height.
While exploring in Oswald West State Park, it was surprising to find that Sitka Spruce can stand 220 feet tall within eye shot of the beach.
Falcon's Tower Part II
Falcon's Tower was measured September 25, 2011, by the Oregon Registry volunteers, aka Ascending the Giants. 2 climbers in Falcon's Tower plus a climber and photographer up one adjacent trunk.
They came up with 219 feet using a tape drop. The first trunk diameter tape wrap was done above a huge fin shaped butress root, about 5 to 6 feet higher than the average dbh. Usually, diameter breast high is averaged between the high side and low side.
In this case, the nominated Spruce was measured even higher where the trunk was narrower, over 17 feet higher than the trunk's lowest downhill reach.
Another wrap was done for dbh where high and low dbh were averaged, but that measurement was excluded. That was 39.8' or 477 inches, with some eye-balling.
For this nominated Spruce in Oswald West State Park, the crown spread was guessed at, another eyeballing method.
Image right: lower yellow arrow is lowest part of trunk and 4.5' below low dbh. The other yellow arrow is slightly above the average dbh, at the bottom of the huge root the man is standing on. Red arrow is the circumference tape wrap. The upper yellow arrow would be a more apples to apples comparison for one spruce to another spruce.
Crown spread is the smallest factor in this case, since the points are 1/4 crown points
In the end, they did not report back with a final point tally, but it was concluded that day that it did not have enough points to tie the Cape Meares Spruce.
Octopus Spruce of Cape Meares Explained
Quick change of pace here for a moment ...
Enlarge the photo to the right, to see the Octopus Spruce which grows in the same area as Cape Meares Spruce. The sign for it says that the form is a mystery people have debated about. Almost certainly we cannot know for a fact what happened ... but chances are about 90% that it resulted from a simple occurance. When the Spruce was young with a trunk not much bigger than 14" to 20" in diameter, a storm snapped the trunk, or another trunk nearby fell and broke it, just above a whorl of limbs.
The extended length of the curved trunks (up to 16 feet outward) from the center, connote that it was not just 10 feet tall with 1 inch diameter branches. The branches would have to have been about 2 to 4 inches in diameter, and in relatively good health with foliage. And the branches would need to have already been about 10 to 14 feet long when the breakage occured. This also suggests something else ... that this Spruce was not in a thick grove ... probably more in the open, maybe with just a few others around it. Otherwise, in thick groves, the lower limbs die and decay fairly quickly: evident by the grove you will walk through to see this one. Just look at all the understory stubs in the shady grove.
There are quite a few giant Sitka Spruce and Western Redcedar in Oswald West State Park.