Celebrating giants among us


The newest Big Tree Register dec.ny.gov/nature/animals-fish-plants/plants/big-tree-register – a list of the largest known trees in New York state – is now available. Each year, Big Tree enthusiasts submit nomination forms for trees that they think have champion potential. This year, more than 50 new champions and co-champions were crowned, including six former champions from the ‘80s and ‘90s that had fallen off the list a decade or more ago. (To be considered for champion status, trees need to be remeasured every ten years to confirm that they are still alive.) The list is available alphabetically by both scientific name and common name.

Not every species found in NYS has a champion. Some species just haven’t had a tree nominated yet and some species are not eligible. Our state Big Tree Program uses the species eligibility criteria set by the National Big Tree Program, so check the American Forests website www.americanforests.org/champion-trees/how-to-nominate-a-tree to see which native and naturalized species qualify. (Note that the national program is currently on pause as it is being transferred from American Forests to the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and the website links will eventually change.)

If you think you’ve found a Big Tree candidate, measure its circumference at 4.5 feet above the ground and compare it to the existing champion - a large chunk of a tree’s score comes from the circumference, so it is a good way to see if your tree has a fighting chance. If it is close, contact the Lands and Forests Program at a DEC office near you dec.ny.gov/about/contact-us/statewide-office-information or find a non-DEC professional experienced in identifying and measuring trees, such as a certified arborist or cooperating forester, to determine the tree’s total point score. Complete a New York State Big Tree Nomination Form (PDF) extapps.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/bigtreeapp.pdf and submit it to DEC for verification. The Big Tree Register is updated once a year in January. Nominations must be submitted by Sept. 1 to make it into the following year’s list. Email the Big Tree Coordinator erin.brady@dec.ny.gov if you have any questions. Happy Big Tree Hunting!