A special tree

Larch on the march in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent
July 11. 2013 8:38PM

This larch tree on the oval at Swart Terrace in Nashua is believed to be the largest tree of its kind in New Hampshire. It has been nominated as a champion for the New Hampshire Big Tree Program. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA - A tree nestled in a small neighborhood just around the corner from Greeley Park has been nominated as a contender in the New Hampshire Big Tree Program.

An Epping resident and author of a new book featuring various trees throughout the state has nominated an American larch that stands on the west end of the oval at Swart Terrace for the competition.

"The larch on Swart Terrace will be the state champion or co-champion for this type," said Kevin Martin, who is in the process of completing his book titled "Big Trees of New Hampshire."

The larch, which he originally labeled as a European larch but after more study believes it is actually an American larch, stands about 79 feet high. What is more impressive, according to Martin, is the tree's circumference of 118 inches and its average crown spread of 56 feet.

Using a unique point system, the tree on Swart Terrace collects 212 points for the competition, which will make it the new state champion or co-champion, regardless of whether it is an American or European larch, said Martin. Currently holding the title is a larch at the New Hampshire State Forest Nursery that is taller but has a much smaller circumference.

"Not that long ago, the neighborhood thought we would have to save up money to tear down that tree," said Tracy Pappas, who lives on Swart Terrace. "At certain times of the year, the tree looks dead."

Pappas says it is an honor to have the tree, which is located on common land within the neighborhood, to be nominated for the state title. The New Hampshire Big Tree Program, organized by the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension, records the state's biggest trees.

"We have two odd trees on both sides of the oval, and it is nice to know that one of them is going to be recognized," said Pappas.

Martin is hoping that his book, once published, will help New Hampshire citizens understand, identify and recognize different tree varieties, which he said could ultimately prevent them from being cut down in the future.

In the case of the larch tree on Swart Terrace, Martin said he understands why residents might think the tree is dead on occasion.

"It is one of the few trees that loses its needles in the winter," he explained. Martin notes in his book that larch trees are golden in color in the fall, but stark and barren in the winter.

Martin recently toured several communities in the state searching for large trees to include in his book. The Gate City, according to Martin, has a number of significant trees that are worth mentioning because of their size.

At the Florence H. Speare Memorial Museum in Nashua, the second-largest black walnut tree in New Hampshire stands at about 157 feet. That, according to Martin, is the county champion.

There are some pine trees at Edgewood Cemetery that are incredibly tall, with some of them over 10 feet in circumference, he said, adding that the sugar maple trees within the cemetery are also quite large.

"At Atherton Park there is a silver maple that also may be a county champion," said Martin.

Martin's book, which he hopes to finish soon, features short hikes to the biggest trees in New Hampshire.



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