The photograph above shows the largest American Sycamore in Ohio. It’s also the National Champion, bigger than any other sycamore in the United States. This behemoth measures more than 48 feet around its base, and its largest single trunk is over 35 feet in circumference. The tree stands 129 feet tall and its average crown spread is 105 feet, giving a total of 577 points, more than any other tree in the Buckeye State. Its closest rival in Ohio is the giant Eastern Cottonwood in Delaware County, with 540 points, that I described about a year ago in another blog article. Here’s the link: http://ianadamsphotography.com/news/2011/03/
Even with a very wide-angle lens, you need to stand some distance from this sycamore to be able to include the entire tree in a photograph, and the image above only hints at the huge scale of the tree. In order to truly appreciate the tree’s enormous dimensions, I needed to take a photograph with something that would provide a reference from a size viewpoint. With this in mind, I set my Sony A850 on a tripod, activated the self-timer, and sprinted over to the tree as fast as my mid-sixties body could cover the distance.
I stand around 5 feet 11 inches and top the scales (to my chagrin) at about 240 pounds, yet I take on the dimensions of an insect when compared to this monumental tree. The large cavity in the base of the trunk next to the out-of-breath photographer has enough space for a dozen people to fit inside.
Ohio forester and big tree expert Brian Riley has compared these two majestic trees in an article, “Tree Talk with Brian Riley”, published in the Fall, 2010 issue of The Ohio Woodland Journal. The American Sycamore in Wayne County is several hundred years old, and Riley estimates that the Delaware County Eastern Cottonwood is 150-200 years in age. One of these two giants is without question the largest living thing in the Buckeye State.
As a photographer, I found the American Sycamore to be much more challenging to photograph. The Eastern Cottonwood is very accessible and makes a great image from virtually any viewpoint around its huge, almost symmetrical, trunk. The sprawling multiple trunks of the American Sycamore are hard to photograph from any angle. Sycamore foliage is not very attractive, but the light gray and white trunks and upper branches contrast well with a blue sky in winter.
The American Sycamore stands near a creek in a privately owned woodland south of Jeromesville, near the intersection of SR 30 and SR 89. The owner does not object to people visiting the tree, and public trips to view the giant sycamore are arranged from time to time during the year by local organizations in the Jeromesville area. If you would like to visit the tree, send me an email and I will provide additional information and directions.