Record Monterey pine (Pinus radiata)

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Circumference of Humboldt County’s record Pinus radiata

I have known about this Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) for years.

Pines in a redwood forest? Yep!

Pines in a redwood forest? Yep!

In 2004, I first took my 7th graders from Fortuna Middle School to make observations in their science journals in the forest surrounding this beauty. I always knew it was big, but did not know it could be the largest of its species.

Champion Pinus radiata

Champion Pinus radiata

The history of the forest at Rohner Park is not well documented, but as luck would have it I found a few answers while measuring the tree. With laser rangefinder in hand, an old-timer from Fortuna was coincidentally walking past me and asked what I was doing. His understanding was that Boy Scouts had planted a handful of pines in the area after the old-growth redwood forest was logged by cross-cut saw–in the years just before the invention of the chain saw in the 1920s. That would mean that these trees were, most likely, planted between 1900-1920. This makes the Monterey pines here, and the mature second-growth redwood forest, nearly 100 years old.

It is an impressive tree, competing with the forest giants of the North Coast like redwoods, Douglas-firs, and grand firs. Conditions must be right for this pine to survive among these other shade-tolerant trees. Pines, remember, are usually not shade-tolerant. That being said, if this tree was planted before the redwoods re-grew after logging in the early 1920s, then it got a head start and grew tall, in a race for light, against the other species in the park. Amazing stuff, to see a 160′ pine eking out an existence in the rainforest!

The stats:

  • 221 inch circumference

  • 160 feet tall

  • 87 foot crown spread

  • 402.8 total points

How to find this tree? Take a walk and find it yourself!

Also, CLICK HERE to learn more about Monterey pines.

Me, the tree hugger, circa 2004.

Me, the tree hugger, circa 2004.

Creating a generation of tree huggers in 2004

Creating a generation of tree huggers in 2004


From Bob Van Pelt

From Bob Van Pelt

Update: This is the NORTH AMERICA RECORD.

Bob Van Pelt says:

The world champs are all in New Zealand (attached). The two largest are 10.5′ diam X 148′ tall, and 9.2′ diam X 156′ tall. New Zealand also has the record of a Monterey pine reaching 211′ in 42 years – a height growth rate only matched by certain Eucalyptus species!

Monterey pines are the most common pine in the Southern Hemisphere, planted there as a lumber tree. Amazing how big they can get in the land down under!

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