From the Director’s Desk: Update on the Big Tree Search

By Fred Breglia, Executive Director

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/​d​o​cs/la…

Inter­est­ed par­tic­i­pants can find an entry form and links with mea­sur­ing instruc­tions on our web­site (lan​dis​ar​bore​tum​.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.

Fall 2023

Volume 41 , Number 3

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