A team committed to finding the tallest trees in the nation yesterday said that an 84.1m tall Taiwania cryptomerioides tree had been named the tallest tree in Taiwan and East Asia.
The Taiwan Champion Trees, a team consisting of researchers from the Council of Agriculture’s Taiwan Forestry Research Institute and National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), in June last year used light detection and ranging (LiDAR) imaging to find the giant tree, numbered 55214, upstream of the Daan River (大安溪).
A 20-member expedition team led by Rebecca Hsu (徐嘉君), an assistant researcher at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, set out to find the tree on Monday last week, and measured it to be 84.1m tall.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Hsu
Hsu and Wang Chi- kuei (王驥魁), a professor at NCKU’s Department of Geomatics, initiated the champion trees program, and after analyzing 54,415 LiDAR topographic maps, they identified 941 giant trees that are likely to be more than 65m tall.
Among the tallest trees found by the team, a 79.1m tall Taiwania cryptomerioides tree called the “Taoshan sacred tree” (桃山神木) was found in Shei-pa National Park in 2020, and the 82m tall “Ka’alang giant tree” (卡阿郎巨木), also a Taiwania cryptomerioides, was found upstream of the Ka’alang River (卡阿郎溪) last year.
Tree No. 55214 was estimated to be at least 79m tall through LiDAR imaging, and Hsu believed that it could be the tallest tree in Taiwan based on the shape of the tree trunk and treetop from the LiDAR images.
“Normally, it is difficult for the tree trunk to be visible on the LiDAR images, but the trunk of the No. 55214 tree was clearly presented,” she said.
It is “because the tree is very healthy, and also because there are no other objects nearby blocking it,” Hsu said.
When the team reached tree No. 55214, they found there were several giant trees taller than 60m near it, Hsu said, adding that it stood out from the other trees.
The team only had one day to measure the tree, but it was windy, so the tree climbers had to pause the operation when they were about 8m from the top, Hsu said.
After they finished measuring the tree and found that it was the tallest tree in Taiwan, the team cheered, she added.
The tree’s girth is about 8.5m, which is similar to the “Taoshan sacred tree” and the “Ka’alang giant tree,” Hsu said.
The tree is located in a valley of the leeward side of a mountain, Hsu said.
It is estimated to be about 700 to 800 years old, and there is abundant epiphyte on the tree, she said.
The team has mapped 941 trees that are 65m or taller in Taiwan, and the data can help scientists conduct research on giant trees, Hsu said.
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