A giant Scarlet oak tree on Jim Adkins
property in the Knob Hill
subdivision is said to be the second largest of its kind in Georgia. Adkins said he bought the property because he liked the tree but did not know what species it was.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
What started as curiosity over the species of a certain tree ended with Columbia County having its own almost-champion Scarlet oak.
"I bought this lot because of the tree," said Jim Adkins, the owner of the Knob Hill subdivision property where the Scarlet oak stands. "I loved (this tree) that much."
A Scarlet oak belongs to the red oak family of trees and is named Scarlet because the leaves take on a red hue in the fall. It's not an uncommon tree in this area, but they are more abundant in mountainous regions.
The owner of Sunrise Custom Home Builders, Adkins realized the massive tree was something special, but he didn't know what kind of tree it was. He enlisted the aid of Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger of Columbia County Steve Abbott for help.
"Once (Adkins) told me about the tree and we identified it as a Scarlet oak we thought we might have a champion tree on our hands," Abbott said . "Periodically we'll find a tree in (Columbia County) that we'll submit to the Champion Tree Program run by the Georgia Forestry Commission. This is one of those trees that we thought might have a chance of making it for Columbia County."
Alas, Columbia County's Scarlet oak came up short, but just barely.
The Champion Tree Program is a registry of the largest trees in Georgia from each of the various types.
Trees in championship contention are ranked based on a point system that awards one point for each foot in height, one point for each inch in circumference, and one-quarter point for each foot in average crown spread, which measures the canopy of the tree.
The long-time champion, that recently fell, measured 158 inches in diameter, 128 feet tall and a 100-foot average crown spread for a total of 311 points.
Adkins' Knob Hill oak had a diameter of 198 inches, has a height of 78 feet, and an average crown spread of 120 feet, giving it a total of 306 points.
That would have been enough to claim the championship title, but a newly discovered Scarlet oak in Jackson County was recently confirmed to have a total of 334 points to become the new champ.
Although the Knob Hill Oak doesn't quite measure up to the new champ, it does have a firm hold on second place and will become champion should the Jackson County oak succumb to disease or falls victim to some sort of natural disaster that brings the big oak down.
"(The Knob Hill oak) may not be the daddy, but it's definitely one of the mothers or brothers," Adkins said.
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