Photos by Howard Garrett
Among little elms and other hardwood trees sits a giant Sycamore tree. You can almost hear it telling stories from the past involving the Caddo Indians that rested beneath its branches.
This week itâ€™s saying, â€œIâ€™m the largest tree in the Metroplex.â€
The tree, discovered when the Trinity Trail Preservation Association was mapping an addition to the trail near Lucas, is a giant with a 25-and-a-half-foot circumference. It stands at 101 feet tall and has a crown spread of 126 feet from branch tip to branch tip.
â€œI had my back to the tree, riding in the Gator when I heard â€˜oh wow, thatâ€™s a tree,â€™ â€ Chris Churchill, publicity chair for the Trinity Trail Preservation Association, said.
The sycamore sits on federally protected land near the latest addition to the Trinity Trail and is about five miles from the Highland Park Trail Head on Lake Lavon.
â€œItâ€™s without a doubt the new Metroplex champion, and we are still waiting to hear if it is the champion for the largest tree in Texas,â€ said Courtney Blevins, Staff Forester III for the Texas Forest Service.
The tree in Lucas has received 439 points based on the measurements taken, though the forestry service has to wait to get verification if the third branch of the tree can be counted in the measurement. If the third branch is counted, then the tree will be considered the co-champion for the largest tree in Texas title.
Points are awarded by the forest service based on height, width and crown spread measurements of the tree.
â€œThe current largest tree has 436 points and is located in Houston County,â€ Blevins said.
The Trinity Trail Preservation has plans to slightly modify the trail, routing it away from the tree to protect it; however, picnic benches and a marker may be placed near the tree to allow the public to enjoy it.
â€œWe will probably clean out some of the smaller trees around it to make it more visible and save the good hardwood trees,â€ Natural Resource Manager James Murphy said. â€œWe are also going to have to add some bridges and culverts to get across the stream.â€
According to Churchill, the organization plans to do whatever is recommended by the forest service and the resource managers to keep the tree healthy and growing.
â€œWe donâ€™t want to do any damage to the tree,â€ Churchill said.
Though there is no way to tell the treeâ€™s age without cutting it down and counting the rings inside, Dirt Doctor Howard Garrett, who went along on the expedition, said he would estimate it to be a few hundred years old.
â€œProbably between 150 and 200 years,â€ he said.
â€œI bet when Columbus discovered America, this was a pretty good little sapling,â€ said Charlie Gaines, TTPA trail steward.
The sycamore has been able to reach its age and grow to its height because of good soil and a permanent water source located nearby flowing from Lake Lavon.
â€œThe tree is very healthy for its age,â€ Blevins said.
As Scott Geer, a certified arborist for Moore Tree Care in Dallas said, generations come and go under a tree ... it can outlast homes and families.
The sycamore in Lucas has already outlasted many generations and hopefully, with the help of the Trinity Trail Preservation Association, will witness many more.
By Wyndi Veigel and Jennifer Fike