National Register of Big Trees also loses one of its notable champions

Washington, D.C. (April 23, 2014) — In one of the most competitive seasons in the last decade, American Forests has crowned nearly 80 new national champion trees in its spring 2014 National Register of Big Trees. There are now 760 national champions — the largest trees of their species — listed in the register, which is officially released on Arbor Day, April 25.

The 10-year rule has been a major factor in the crowning and dethroning of champions on this year’s spring register and illustrates the investment of state coordinators, volunteers and big tree hunters to verify and measure champion trees year round,” said Sheri Shannon, coordinator of American Forests National Big Tree Program.

Hawaii's Acacia Koa Champion/photo credit Sheri Mann

Highlights include:

  • States with the most champions are Florida (129), Texas (89), Arizona (74), Virginia (68), California (53) and Oregon (40).
  • Oregon has 11 new national champions, including two specimens — a bigleaf maple and an incense-cedar — that are just shy of being listed as mega-trees, a title given to trees that score 650 points or more in the tree-measurement formula.
  • Illinois gains three new champions — a Texas red oak, scarlet hawthorn and common jujube (co-champion) — found at the Morton Arboretum outside Chicago.
  • Colorado adds a new scotch pine to the list and New York reclaims its Norway spruce, northern red oak and black locust.
  • More than 90 champions were dethroned, many of which were caused by tree damage or deaths, including 10 deceased trees each in Florida and Virginia alone.

Among the loss of some national champions was California’s Whelan Pine, the largest sugar pine by volume in North America at the time, which died last year. Though the cause of death is unknown, the tree had been suffering from western pine blister rust for some time and was located in an area affected by the Rim Fire.

“We are always saddened when we lose some of our country’s most spectacular trees, but all big tree hunters and state coordinators are dedicated to continue locating national champions.” said Scott Steen, president & CEO of American Forests. “The National Register of Big Trees is a testament to the collective effort we make to preserve our nation’s forests, and the big trees that reside in them.”

The National Register of Big Trees, sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company, accepts nominations for national champions year round, and American Forests releases an updated version of the register twice a year. The National Register of Big Trees records the largest trees of each species in the United States based on height, circumference and average crown spread.

Since 1940, American Forests National Big Tree Program has promoted the importance of planting and caring for trees and forests in helping to sustain healthy ecosystems and life on Earth. The program has campaigned to locate, protect and save the biggest specimens of every native and naturalized tree species in the United States.

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