Sunday, August 28, 2016

Linden Oak (Montgomery County, Maryland)

20 foot 4 inch cbh

At first I thought this was a climbing rope, but upon further inspection, I'm pretty sure it's a grounding wire for lightning strikes.
I drove up to the town of Rockville yesterday to run a few errands and also to measure a couple of trees I saw growing in the bustling downtown area. Urban tree measuring is new to me, so at first I felt a little embarrassed performing the tasks while people can see me, but it was worth it in the end to get some solid numbers.

While at first driving to the bookstore, I vaguely remembered a large tree growing off of Rockville Pike, just off of 495 near the apartments I used to live in 15 years ago. Sure enough, the tree was still there, and when I saw it, knew it was a big one. The big old white oak was quietly hanging out in a small patch of grass nestled next to some woods, surrounded by roads, traffic, and noise. For some reason, 15 years ago, I thought I remembered someone telling me a tale of someone being hanged from this tree a long time ago. Don't know if that's true or not. Inspecting the tree, a few lower limbs have been removed over the years. The back side shows quite a bit of rot. There is also what appears to be a grounding wire, in case of a lightning strike, running down the tree. The tree had a circumference at breast height (cbh) of 20 feet, 4 inches. Even though a 20 footer seems to be pretty rare in these parts, I'm still used to doing 40 foot wraps of redwoods so I'm still surprised when my walk around the trees ends so quickly. I recorded a height of 84.17 feet. I also found a small plastic dinosaur nearby.

When I got home, I discovered that this tree is actually called the Linden Oak and is Montgomery county's largest white oak and is at least 250 years old! Also, the train tracks of metro's red line were constructed in a westward arc to avoid disturbing the tree. I had always wondered why the tracks seemed to suddenly curve in that area. Anyhow, it's nice to know of an "elder" growing nearby that I can visit from time to time...

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