California state coordinator, Mike Taylor, standing beside Melkor. Courtesty: Mike Taylor.

The 2012 spring edition of the National Register of Big Trees recognizes around 760 of the biggest trees in the country. But in the world of big trees, some trees are bigger than big: They’re mega.

Mega-trees are mammoth monsters with more than 650 points to their names. There are 15 of these beasts on the 2012 register. The shortest of them, the co-champion common baldcypress in Mississippi, is a mere 82 feet tall, but what it lacks in height it makes up in girth with a 55-foot trunk circumference. The tallest of the mega-trees is the 349-foot tall co-champion coast redwood named Melkor. And, which mega champion has the biggest crown? That would be California’s bluegum eucalyptus with the 126-foot average crown.

Of course, you don’t get to mega status overnight — it takes centuries—so it’s no surprise that many of the mega-trees have been on the National Register for a long time. The original mega-tree, General Sherman, inaugurated the register back in 1940, but he was quickly followed in 1945 by the 931-point western redcedar, the Quinalt Lake Cedar, in Washington’s Olympic National Park — this tree is actually thought to be the largest tree in the world outside of California and New Zealand. Every now and then, though, a big-tree hunter stumbles upon a big surprise. For instance, Melkor wasn’t discovered and nominated until West Coast big-tree hunters Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor came across him last year.

If you’re looking for mega-trees, the West Coast is the place to be. Only two mega-trees are found outside of California, Oregon and Washington: the co-champion common baldcypress in Louisiana and Mississippi. For 24 years, the Louisiana tree reigned supreme on the list until its co-champion was nominated in 2005.

For the complete list of mega-trees and all the other biggest trees in the country, check out the 2012 National Register of Big Trees. Curious about the other end of the big-tree spectrum? Check out our Loose Leaf post on the tiny titans.