General Sherman in California's Sequoia National Park is still No. 1 on the Big Tree list. Photo by Rafał Próchniak/CC.
Size matters. Big trees are signs that "progress" hasn't paved over everything. The latest, 2011 National Register of Big Trees contains more than 750 champs in 46 U.S. states. There's actually a sport known as Big Tree Hunting. Fortunately, it's done to document big trees, rather than cut them down. The big tree hunters measure a tree's height, circumference and average crown spread. Points are awarded for the dimensions, and the winners are compiled annually in the National Register of Big Trees, put together by American Forests and sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Co.
Where are the biggest? California has General Sherman, a giant sequoia and a champ since 1940, measuring 274.9 feet tall, with 1,400-ton trunk (roughly equivalent to the weight of 15 adult blue whales). No. 2 is the Lost Monarch, also in California, in the Grove of Titans at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
The General is so big, it takes two pics to fit him in this frame. Here's the bottom half, and trunk. Photo by Rafał Próchniak/CC.
This year's registry, thankfully for us TreeHuggers, includes more than 660 species, an increase of 30 from last year. There are 751 grand champion trees, including 18 newcomers (or old-timers, depending on how you put it).
The 18 include the co-champion Osage-orange trees in Virginia and Delaware, the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir in Texas, the Virginia pine in West Virginia, and the Eastern white oak in Indiana.
Florida is tops in the country when it comes to champion trees, with a total of 106.
Other states with bark-ing rights:
- Arizona (87);
- Texas (86);
- Virginia (76); and,
- California (72).
Five states don't have any national champion trees: Hawaii, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Texas and Virginia have the most new champion trees for 2011, with more than 20 additions.
The National Big Tree program has been around since 1940 and aims to promote "the importance of planting and caring for trees and forests in helping to sustain the healthy ecosystems and life on earth," according to American Forests.
This year, with the support of Davey, the list will be published solely online. No trees will be used to print the Big Tree registry, in other words.