Ohio adds six new big tree champs

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WASHINGTON – Officials at the conservation group American Forests has released the 2002 National Register of Big Trees, a species-by-species listing of the largest trees in the United States.

The National Register of Big Trees, updated and published every other year, lists the largest known species of 826 native and naturalized tree species in the country. American Forests, the nation’s oldest nonprofit conservation organization, has maintained and published the Register since 1940.

Now online. For the first time, this year, the National Register of Big Trees is available online at americanforests.org and features a big tree database searchable by height, width, circumference, crown spread, points, species, and state.

Visitors can also view Big Tree Trivia, which highlights facts such as the most notable trees, and states and regions with the most champs.

New champs. Since the 2000 register, 118 new national champion trees have been crowned, while 138 champs were dethroned, for a total of 884 champion and co-champion trees in this year’s register.

Georgia had the most new champs with 15, followed by California (14), Arizona (12), Tennessee (11), and Florida (10). After dethroned champs are factored in, Georgia had a net gain of eight, while Ohio’s list grew by six and Oregon’s by four.

Florida has the most arboreal giants of any state with 169, then California (97), Arizona (70), Texas (69), and Virginia (56).

Do you feel lucky? The largest new champ is a 759-point bluegum eucalyptus from Petrolia, Calif., which dethroned the previous champion tree owned by actor Clint Eastwood.

Nebraska’s eastern cottonwood is the second largest new champ at 553 points, followed by a sycamore in Montgomery County, Ky., with 542 points.

Other notable new champs include a 523-point co-champion live oak in Waycross, Ga., that has a crown spread of nearly half the size of a football field; a 420-point co-champion American elm in Shelby County, Tenn.; and eight species that previously had no champions: holacantha, redberry juniper, dwarf chinkapin oak, Mohr oak, orange, jumping-bean sapium, feltleaf willow, and aloe yucca.

The 16 biggest new champions on the register are hardwoods and include a sycamore, a cottonwood, an elm, 12 oaks, and an introduced eucalyptus.

Keep looking. Not every tree in the United States has a national champion. In fact, there are more than 90 species without recognized champs. In addition, not every state has a champion tree.

Massachusetts was added to the list of “champless” states after a northern red oak in Monroe County, N.Y., beat out the Massachusetts’ tree by 95 points. Delaware, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia also do not have champions listed on the register.

Nebraska re-entered the register with the discovery of two champs.

The nation’s largest known dwarf chinkapin oak was crowned champion in Richardson County, Neb. This marks the species’ first appearance on the register.

The big daddy. The General Sherman giant sequoia in California remains the nation’s largest tree and the world’s largest living thing. The impressive specimen is one of four trees that have remained on the register since it began in 1940. The white oak, western juniper, and Rocky Mountain juniper are the other original champion trees.

Dethroned. The following are among the 138 champion trees dethroned since the 2000 Register: a blue ash in Danville, Ky., was cut down accidentally when a cleanup crew, unaware of its importance, saw the untidy tree as a nuisance to the surrounding park and cut it down; an Arizona walnut and a mountain hemlock were improperly measured and dethroned; and the champion pacific madrone, known as the Council Madrone for the many tribal meetings held at its base, was lost to powerful winds in 2000.

Champions are ranked based on a point system. A tree’s points are calculated by adding the trunk circumference in inches, the height in feet, plus one-quarter of its average crown spread in feet. If a tree forks below 41/2 feet from the ground, only the largest trunk is measured for circumference.

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