Landis Arboretum has successfully kicked off its most recent Big Tree Search, and the tree hunters are moving fast! Our intention is to find new NY State Champion Trees, the largest in each species, as identified on the current Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) list of NY State Champion trees. Sponsored by Bill and Roberta Winsman, the Big Tree Search officially began on March 1 and will continue through October.
The number of new potential champions has been considerable, and the nominations continue to be submitted. Species include ash (Fraxinus), American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), basswood (Tilia americana), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata), fir (Abies), maple (Acer), sassafras, black walnut (Juglans nigra), butternut (Juglans cinerea), and white and red oak (Quercus alba and rubra, respectively). In addition, there are a few co-champion contenders, which occurs when two trees are within 5 total points of each other.
A few competition highlights to date include a pawpaw tree in North Blenheim that could be named a NYS co-champion contender and a giant white oak in Westchester County that has amassed over 400 total points and could be a NYS champion. Two butternut trees, with almost the same dimensions, located hours apart, are likely to be co-champion contenders. An ancient American hophornbeam, big basswood, fat white ash, and several behemoth black walnuts were entered into the competition: all are truly giant specimens. A sugar maple (Acer saccharum) that has a trunk circumference of over 22 feet has been entered. A new NYS champion cucumber magnolia may be crowned. A co-champion northern catalpa in Montgomery County was re-measured and appears to be larger than previously recorded, and a silver maple nearby has a whopping 23-foot circumference trunk that may put it in NYS co-champ contention. Some notable non-native submissions have also come in, including a few giant ginkgo trees, as well as a supersized weeping willow tree in Schoharie County. The list of big trees continues to expand.
To see a full list of the current NYS champions, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/la…
Interested participants can find an entry form and links with measuring instructions on our website (landisarboretum.org). Keep in mind that a champion pawpaw tree will not be as large as a champion oak, but all are eligible as possible species champions. Only native trees are considered part of the acceptable species on the New York DEC Big Tree State registry, but any and all species are eligible in the race to find the next biggest overall tree in New York State. These include NYS natives, exotics, and even invasive species, because the NY State biggest tree is based solely on total points.
All submissions to the Big Tree Search must be received by November 1st to be included in the competition. Cash prizes and Landis swag will be awarded to all winners. Winners of the Search will be recognized in the Spring 2024 Landis newsletter, along with a list of big trees that the public can visit.