Starting with Geotripper, others have been posting some of their favorite trees .
I could do an entire blog of my favorite trees, but two particular species stand out for me. First, is Aesculus flava (Yellow Buckeye). Although I had seen the species many times before, it wasn't until going to the headwaters of Dunn Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains during my thesis field work that I became awestruck by it. By wood volume, the tree may be in the top six largest species in the eastern US (Tsuga canadensis, Liriodendron tulipifera, Pinus strobus, Taxodium distichum, Quercus virginiana, Aesculus flava?). When it grows in a forest situation, it develops a powerful straight bole that slowly tapers with height. Below are four +4.5 m CBH trees I found near or at my field sites.
My other favorite tree has to be Pinus virginiana (Virginia Pine). If you ever climb a rocky ridge in Appalachia, you will find it. Although it can grow on better sites, its classic home is a rock ledge, exposed to the wind and sun, growing in almost no soil. Unlike most pines that have a straight bole until they get old, Virginia pine starts out twisted and gnarly when young. When you combine the tree with its rocky and exposed homes, I imagine a tough individual that takes the worst nature can give, yet still grows and maintains a unique individuality. It is so tough, it is commonly planted on old coal strip mines where little else will grow. Below is one growing out of a sandstone ledge along the Big South Fork River.