|Cemeteries are frequently home to large trees like this champion Black Maple.
COLUMBUS, OH -- The nation's largest swamp white oak tree, a towering 75-foot high specimen in Washington County with a trunk circumference of 282 inches and a crown spread of 107 feet, is one of 14 national "champion" Big Trees living in Ohio today. State foresters with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) are asking Ohioans to help them find other champion-sized trees this year, with a particular eye towards finding the nation's largest Ohio Buckeye tree.
Ohio has a wide diversity of tree species and many of these trees have grown to championship proportions in back yards, community parks and cemeteries across the state, said John Dorka, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. This year, we are looking to update our listing of state record trees. And with a little luck, maybe we can find several more 'national champions' - including a champion Ohio Buckeye tree. We believe these trees are out there; it's just a matter of finding and recording them.
The Division of Forestry, with the financial support and partnership of International Paper Company, is seeking to update the state's listing of champion Big Trees. Ohio's national champion Big Trees also include a black ash, Kentucky coffeetree, Siberian elm, slippery elm (2), Norway maple, northern pin oak, shingle oak, common pear, eastern redbud, two-winged silverbell, American smoketree and a yellowwood. A registry of 826 Big Trees - the largest examples of their species in the country - is maintained by American Forests, a conservation organization based in Washington, D.C.
ODNR is especially interested in locating a national champion Ohio Buckeye tree within the Buckeye State. While the Ohio Buckeye is the state's official tree, the largest known tree of its kind is located in Kentucky. Ohio's largest known Ohio Buckeye tree is currently located near North Bend in Hamilton County.
Anyone can nominate a tree for Big Tree designation. Nomination forms will be accepted anytime and are available on the ODNR web site at Ohiodnr.com, along with a diagram for taking preliminary measurements of a nominated tree. Big Trees are most generally found in yards, cemeteries or arboretums where their size is distinctive. They are less frequently found in dense woods where trees do not develop broad crowns, Dorka said.
Big Trees are determined by a point system, based on trunk circumference, height and average crown spread. Individuals should take the following measurements when nominating a tree for Big Tree status:
- Measure the circumference of the trunk four and a half feet above the ground. Each inch represents one point.
- Estimate the tree's height by comparing it to another object. Each foot adds one more point.
- Measure the distance of the ground area under the spread of the tree at both the widest and narrowest part of the spread, and then divide by two to get the average crown spread. Each foot adds .25 point.
- All of these measurements together provide an estimated score. Representatives of the Division of Forestry's Big Tree Program will use special equipment to verify all nominated trees.
A wide variety of conifers, deciduous trees, herbs and shrubs thrive in Ohio's moist, moderate climate. More than 100 tree species are native to Ohio; another 20 were imported into the state over the years and have flourished. About 50 more varieties are neither native nor naturalized, but grow well in Ohio. These species were introduced for ornamental purposes, but cannot reproduce here.
The ODNR Division of Forestry is charge with ensuring healthy forests and good forestry products in the state. The state's Big Trees can be examples of what it takes to develop healthy trees over a long period of time. One hundred years of good forest management has increased the amount of tree cover across Ohio from only 12 percent in 1900 to more than 33 percent today.
For additional information on the Big Tree Program, visit the ohiodnr.com web site, or call the ODNR Division of Forestry at 614-265-6694.