“Ralph, I found the Sumac tree again… let’s go measure it.”
I found the tree several years ago and then lost it… Ralph and I looked for it in vain. I didn’t want to repeat the failure this time. I noted several landmarks and included an odometer measurement. I was confident I could bring Ralph directly to the tree.
Ralph Anderson… the big tree guy… and I, headed upriver from Sherar’s Falls, below Maupin, where I had found what I thought might be the largest specimen of Smooth Sumac in Oregon. Normally referred to as a shrub, Smooth Sumac is large enough to qualify as a small tree. Ralph was confident that my find would be a record for Oregon since no one else had submitted a nomination. He would make the necessary measurements to verify my discovery. With luck I might have a national champion.
Visions of fame danced briefly in my mind… “Larry Rea finds Record-sized Sumac Tree” wasn’t likely to be a headline anywhere except in my nature blog. Maybe the announcement might encourage another big tree hunter to find and nominate a bigger tree but more than likely only Ralph and I would care. I would email a few select friends and boast about finding a champion tree… they might smile and think I’m up to crazy stuff… but chances are finding folks that would care is limited.
Ralph prepared me for reality… “It won’t be a national champion… the tree is more common on the east coast and bigger ones have been found there. Sumac grows along the Deschutes river, the Umatilla river and the Snake River so it is relatively rare in Oregon.
We drove right past it going up river… didn’t see it. Then we turned around and headed down river and I finally spotted the tree. Eureka… I breathed a sigh of relief.
Ralph gathered his equipment and measured the diameter at breast height (DBH)… it passed the minimum requirement. Then the height of the tree… it was tall enough… and the coverage of the canopy… points are awarded in those three categories… the grand total determines the prize winner.
We took plenty of pictures of Oregon’s new champion of the species… Rhus glabra.
photo and story byLarry
For more about Oregon’s Champions: https://www.championtreeregistry.com/oregon-registry/