Benefits of Big Trees

Benefits of Big Trees

The National Big Tree Program was established in 1940 and has since served as a legacy of the excellence in stewardship by the American Forests organization (http://www.americanforests.org/who-we-are-about-us/). The goal of this program is promote and preserve our nation’s champion tree specimens and educate the public about the role of theses and all trees in sustaining a healthy environment. The biannually updated National Register of American Forests Champion Trees contains more than 750 documented, measured and monitored specimens. The register can be searched by species, state, circumference, height, crown spread or total points, county, state and national champions are listed; http://www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/.

Trees can be nominated for listing in the registry by submitting species, location and measurements of the circumference of the trunk in inches, the height in feet and 1/4 of the average crown spread (ACS), also measured in feet; adding these measurements together yields the total points. Total points are useful in comparing large trees of the same species. Trees must be measured every ten years to retain champion status. For details on measuring trees in accordance with American Forests standards visit: http://www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/big-tree-measuring-guidelines/.

Each state may run its own big tree program as a part of the larger national program, to help closely track the largest trees in every state and throughout the country. Under ideal circumstances each county has a team that investigates nominees and monitors and re-measures current listings. The state program coordinator sends out certificates to landowners and nominators regarding the status of trees, they will also report to the national group at American Forests.

There are books available, by state, which help locate, navigate to, identify and even measure champion trees in your state. “Big Trees of New Hampshire, Short Hikes to the Biggest Trees in New Hampshire from the Seacoast to the North Country” by Kevin Martin, provided a tour of the big trees of Portsmouth, NH which my family accompanied me on this past weekend. Below are some pictures and measurements of some of the impressive trees we found.

This shagbark hickory, Carya ovata, is located on Adams Point in Durham, NH. There are many large hickory specimens in Strafford County, the 3 largest are very close in size and Big Tree total points. This specimen is 124 inches in circumference at breast height, 93 feet in vertical height and has an average crown spread of 77 feet.

This shagbark hickory, Carya ovata, is located on Adams Point in Durham, NH. There are many large hickory specimens in Strafford County, the 3 largest are very close in size and Big Tree total points. This specimen is 124 inches in circumference at breast height, 93 feet in vertical height and has an average crown spread of 77 feet.

This European beech, Fagus sylvatica, is the second largest of its kind in the state of NH. It is in excellent condition and measures 242 inches in trunk circumference, 98 feet tall and has an ACS of 79 feet.

This European beech, Fagus sylvatica, is the second largest of its kind in the state of NH. It is in excellent condition and measures 242 inches in trunk circumference, 98 feet tall and has an ACS of 79 feet. Pictured here are my patient, tree-hugging husband, Jason and one of our dogs, Quincy.

This gnarly specimen of horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum, is located at the Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden. It was planted in 1776 by William Whipple upon his return from Philadelphia after signing the Declaration of Independence. It is the state champion of its species measuring 194 inches in circumference, 79 feet tall and has a 70 foot ACS.

This gnarly specimen of horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum, is located at the Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden. It was planted in 1776 by William Whipple upon his return from Philadelphia after signing the Declaration of Independence. It is the state champion of its species measuring 194 inches in circumference, 79 feet tall and has a 70 foot ACS.

This naturalized European larch, Larix decidua, is the county champion for its species. Located in South Cemetery, the European relative of our native larch tends to get to be a bit larger; measuring 103 inches in circumference, 89 feet high with a 46 foot average crown spread.

This naturalized European larch, Larix decidua, is the county champion for its species. Located in South Cemetery, the European relative of our native larch tends to get to be a bit larger; measuring 103 inches in circumference, 89 feet high with a 46 foot average crown spread.

This is the largest red oak, Quercus rubra, in a grove of very large oaks in Haven Park. This beautiful and healthy specimen measures 179 inches in circumference, 88 feet in height and has an ACS of 59 feet.

This is the largest red oak, Quercus rubra, in a grove of very large oaks in Haven Park. This beautiful and healthy specimen measures 179 inches in circumference, 88 feet in height and has an ACS of 59 feet. Again, I have to thank my husband, Jason, and dogs, Quincy (closest to the tree) and Wrigley, for help in providing scale next to this huge tree.

This made for a great family outing treasure hunting for trees! Find a book or guide for your state and plan some outdoor fun for any season. For help measuring trees or if you think you may have a potential champion on your property contact your arborist and visit the American Forests website, listed above, for information on making nominations.