Wood Wisdom

Did you know....?

-The world's tallest living standing tree, a softwood Coast Redwood {sequoia sempervirens} named Hyperion, is in Redwood National Park located in California. Last measured in October 2006, it was approximately 379 foot 1 1/2 inches {almost 38 stories} tall, or almost 8 stories higher than the Statue of Liberty.

-The world's tallest living standing hardwood tree, is a Mountain Ash {Eucalyptus regnans} named Centurion which is located in Tasmania, Australia near the Tahune Airwalk tourism attraction approximately 54 miles south of Hobart. It is approximately 329 foot 8 3/4 inches tall.

The tree with the widest {diameter} trunk in the world is an African Baobab {Adansonia digitata} located in Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo, South Africa. Its trunk diameter is almost 49 foot, it has a circumference of 155 foot and is 72 foot tall. Oh, one other amazing fact, it is known as the Big Baobab Tree Pub. It is hollow inside, its trunk walls are 6 foot 6 inches thick and it can comfortably seat approximately 15 people. Some African Baobab trees can store as much as 32,000 gallons {in weight, approximately 133 tons} of water in their trunks.

The tree with the world's greatest recorded tree circumference {girth} is the Santa Maria del Tule, an Montezuma Cypress {Taxodium mucronatum}, in Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico. The town is named after the tree. Because the trunk of the tree is not circular in shape but in reality has a distorted and irregular shape, you can't multiply the diameter by 3.14159 {pi} and come up with its true approximate circumference {girth} which is in excess of 160 foot. It is approximately 141 foot tall and over 2000 years old. It was thought that the trunks of the tree were several different individual trees that had merged together. A test of DNA samples taken from the trunks of the tree in 1996 using the technique Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA indicated that the trunks came from a single tree.

At one time, in the late 18th century the world's greatest recorded tree circumference {girth} was a European Chestnut {Castanea sativa) known as the Tree Of The Hundred Horses, located on Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy. At that time it had a circumference {girth} of almost 190 foot. Since then, it has separated into three parts {trees}.

The blackest wood in the world is Ebony {Diospyros crassiflora}.

The whitest wood in the world is Holly {Ilex opaca}. The Silver Striped Holly seems to produce the whitest wood of all the species of Holly. To produce the whitest wood, the best time to cut down Holly trees is in the winter when the sap is lower, and then mill and kiln dry it before summer.

Trees can be classed or grouped in several ways. The lumber/timber industry uses two broad/generic classes or groups for the wood/timber that comes from trees, they are hardwood and softwood.

Not all wood that comes from hardwood {Deciduous} angiosperms which are broadleaved and are either catkin bearing or flower bearing trees is hard and wood that comes from softwood trees belonging to the order Coniferales/Coniferous gymnosperms which are cone bearing or evergreen and have needle or scale like leaves is soft. There are exceptions! Some examples would be,

*Balsa {Ochroma pyramidale} Janka Hardness 88 and *Basswood {Tilia americana} Janka Hardness 410 are Deciduous and are extremely soft.

*Yew Pacific {Taxus brevifolia} Janka Hardness 1600 is in the order Coniferales/Coniferous and is harder than Ashes {Fraxinus spp.}, Birches {Betula spp.}, Maples {Acer spp.}, Oaks {Quercus spp.} or Walnuts {Juglans spp.}.

Bamboo although often tree like, is actually not a species of tree, it is a species of grass.

-The world's slowest growing tree is a White Cedar {Thuja occidentalis}, located in Canada. After 155 years, it grew to a height of 4 inches and weighed only 6/10th of an ounce. The tree can be found on a cliffside in the Canadian Great Lakes area.

The world's largest forest is in northern Russia. It is located between 55 degrees North Latitude and the Arctic Circle {Siberia}. It is a coniferous forest. It covers a total area of 2.7 billion acres.

-The world's fastest growing specie of tree, is the Empress Splendor Tree {Paulownia tomentosa}. This tree can grow up to 20 feet the first year!

-The world's fastest recorded growth of a tree was an Albasia {Albizzia falcate} located in Sabah, Malaysia in the year 1974. It grew, 35 foot 3 inches in approximately 13 months. That would be averaging about 1 1/10 inch per day.

-The tree with the world's largest canopy/crown {spread of its branches} is the great Banyan {Ficus bengalensis}, in the Indian Botanical Garden, Calcutta, India. It has over 1,700 prop supporting roots and dates back to 1787. The canopy/crown has a circumference of 1,350 foot, approximately 430 foot wide, almost 1 1/2 football fields.

The world's largest living tree, and this is because of its volume is the General Sherman Giant Sequoia {Sequoia gigantea}, located in Sequoia National Park, in California. It has a trunk volume of approximately 52,500 cubic feet. It is believed to be approximately 2,100 years old. It is a little over 102 foot 7 inches in circumference. Its largest branch which broke off in January 2006 was 6 foot 9 1/2 inches in diameter. At 180 foot above the ground, its trunk is still 14 foot in diameter. It is estimated that it contains 600,000 board foot of lumber. Its trunk by itself, weighs approximately 2,800,000 pounds. Its champion tree score is 1321 points.

-A trees score is determined by adding 3 measurements together, circumference in inches, measured at 4 1/2 feet above ground level {1 point for each inch}, height in feet {1 point for each foot in height}, and one-fourth of the crown spread. Add together the widest crown spread {nearest foot}, and the narrowest crown spread {nearest foot}, then divide by two to get the average ground spread, then divide by 4.

-The state with the most registered national champion trees {largest of a particular species} is Florida with 163.  

All of the above information was compiled by Johnny W. Morlan in "Facts About Wood and Trees".

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