Exploring West Coast Forest

Largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon

This page is about some large Sitka Spruce | Picea sitchensis | Tiny images click to enlarge

Previous Oregon champ
Klootchy Creek Giant

The Cape Meares Spruce
near Tillamook

OCTOPUS SPRUCE
of Cape Meares explained

 

Discovery of Falcon's Tower
80 feet taller than the champ

 

Copyright 2011 by Mario D. Vaden ..... See Tallest Redwoods for Circle Solver to Convert Diameter / Circumference



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 stumps, trunks tend to be broad, making measuring rather subjective for some people. I think it's rather easy if one just keeps things simple and measures 4.5 feet above grade where they are supposed to.

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.

 

Standing on the south side of the Cape Meares Spruce Large limb on the south side of the Cape Meares Sitka Spruce Big burl on the west side of the Cape Meares Spruce Standing on the north side of the Cape Meares Spruce Tall view of the Cape Meares Sitka Spruce bole Small trunk of Hemlock or other species pinched by Cape Meares Spruce burl

 

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. Located about 6 miles east of Seaside, Oregon, along the Oregon Coast.

 

Photo of the Klootchy Creek Giant and Largest Spruce in Oregon before 2005

 

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.

The wide base of Sitka Spruce that used to be largest in Oregon

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 (or so they say)

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 15.27 ft. diameter, or 576 inches circumference. That may include the protruding burl. Crown spread is said to be 93 ft. But the method I saw used for crown spread was rather crude, trying to eyeball from ground level whether one was under the tip. It could vary.

Cut trunk end of the previous largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon

Falcon's Tower ... off-the-record co-champ

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 near Oric, CA ... the names can be easy to mix-up. Raven's tower is 317.19' tall.

I discovered Falcon's Tower Spruce May 22, 2011. 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.

 

Huge Sitka Spruce in Oswald West State Park of Oregon

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 of 749 points

 

Height - 224 feet

 

Circumference - 502 inches

 

1/4 Crown Estimate - 23 feet

 

Total Points - 749 points

 

The circumference of 502 inches means the trunk measures 13.31 feet in diameter at DBH.

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 nominated Falcon's Tower to the Oregon Registry, August 2011.

Comparison of this Spruce to the Cape Meares Sitka was based American Forest system.

The American Forest point system is inherently limited 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.

Tall Spruce in Oswald West State Park Measuring Sitka Spruce looking south Measuring Sitka Spruce looking east Showing size of Oregon Coast Spruce Falcon's Tower Sitka Spruce Measuring trunk diameter dbh of Sitka Spruce Measuring upper diameter for largest Sitka Spruce comparison Old Sitka Spruce with moss and extra trunk

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.

Oregon and Nations largest Sitka Spruce at one time

They came up with 219 feet using a tape drop. That is 5 feet shy of my preliminary. The first trunk diameter 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 Spruce was measured over 17 feet higher than the trunk's lowest downhill reach.

For this nominated Spruce in Oswald West State Park, the crown spread was guessed at, another eyeballing method.

In the photo, the lower yellow arrows mark low grade and high grade. Average dbh is between them, and the proper place to measure diameter for champion status is the upper yellow area. But Ascending the Giants failed to do this.

Actually, I think they refused in their minds to do it for some unknown reason, because bridging the obstacle of the large root is very easy using a plumb-bob on both sides of it and simply measing the distance across the root.

Rather than do a proper measurement with an accurate plumb line guide, they chose to measure almost 4 ft. to 5 ft too high with is almost pointless.

When measured properly, the Falcon's Tower should be in the 740 point to 746 point range, making it an Oregon co-champion Sitka Spruce.

This is one species where I need to disregard the final points by Ascending the Giant's. Not because I nominated it. But because I witnessed the trunk wrap about 5 feet too high with no effort whatsoever to attempt a calculation closer to the proper average diameter height.

The trunk is narrower, but it soars far beyond the height of the Cape Meares Spruce. They both gain their points in different ways.

Falcon's Tower unquestionably has the most isolated habitat. Its in a location where virtually 100% of people don't see it.


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 ...

The multiple trunk Octopus Sitka Spruce at Cape Meares

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.