By Doyle Irvin, American Forests
Have you ever wondered what the largest tree in the United States is? Or maybe which tree would need the most amount of people to encircle it while holding hands? Well, we have some news that may help.
The American Forests Champion Tree national register has recorded the most prominent trees in our country since 1940, and includes 657 different species and champions from nearly every state. (Delaware and Wyoming are the unlucky two that have no champions.) Florida has by far the most champions and co-champions, with a whopping 127, far ahead of Texas’ second-place 83.
Champions are measured by height, circumference and spread, and these three factors determine their total point calculation. Big tree hunters have scoured the country this year and certified an impressive 129 new champions and co-champions, and we at American Forests couldn’t be prouder.
Our largest new champion this year is a baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) in Louisiana, measuring in at 91 feet tall, a massive 626 inches around, and spreading 87 feet, for a total score of 739. The smallest new champion is a clammy locust (Robinia viscosa) out of Montana, with a height of 18 feet, a circumference of 12 inches and a spread of 13 feet. Alas, this year’s new crop didn’t displace our reigning overall national champion, a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in California that scores 1,321 points and has been champion since our first national register in 1940.
With 21 new champions and co-champions, Virginia takes the cake as the state with the most new winners. Texas and Hawaii were tied for the most trees dethroned, at seven each.
Elderly “statesmen” trees are critical to sustaining healthy forests, and their role in the ecosystem matches their champion size. Much of the time they are hidden in the depths of the forest, and entice people to explore new wildernesses. The national register has inspired countless people across the decades to interact with nature, leading many into lives of conservation and restoration. There is a special magic to big trees, and we at American Forests are committed to their preservation.