My three-year-old has a popular saying when he sees a tractor, dozer, tree or something else mightier than him by saying, "That's a big one!"
There are big trees, and then there are BIG TREES. Who knows? Maybe that huge maple you drive by every day has what it takes to be a champion.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources-Division of Forestry maintains Indiana's records on the state's largest native trees. The Indiana Big Tree Register (2005) can be found at the following website: www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/index.html when looking under the "publications" tab. In 2009, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources-Division of Forestry will be updating its big tree register.
Indiana also has the distinction of having three national champion big trees, as recorded by the American Forestry Association. The champion Royal Paulownia is located at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, while the champion Smoketree is located at Purdue University in West Lafayette.
Because the Royal Paulownia and the Smoketree are not Hoosier natives, they are not listed as champions in the Indiana Big Tree Register.
Indiana's largest catalpa tree in Vanderburgh County is a Hoosier native and is the national champion.
How are champion trees determined? All trees are measured for their height, crown spread and circumference. Circumference is measured at 4.5 feet above soil level.
A few state champions are located in our area also. Owen County boasts three state record holders.
The largest black cherry measuring 224.5" at 4.5 feet, with height of 86 feet and a 76 foot crown spread. Also the largest pignut hickory measuring 150.8 inches at 4.5 feet, with height of 122 feet and an 88 foot crown spread.
Thirdly the largest Canada Plum measuring 70.06 inches at 4.5 feet with a height of 59 feet and a crown spread of 33 feet.
Clay County has the prestige of having the state's largest white oak measuring 283 inches at 4.5 feet with a height of 83 feet and a 127 foot crown spread. Other noteworthy trees in neighboring counties include a silver maple in Monroe County measuring 262.5 inches at 4.5 feet, with a height of 98 feet and a 108-foot crown spread.
Morgan County has the largest black maple at 153.6 inches at 4.5 feet with height 82 feet and a 76.5-foot crown spread. Parke County boasts holding two state record holders. The tree is a white elm (American) measuring 235.5 inches at 4.5 feet, has a height of 112 feet and a crown spread of 130.5 feet and a American Hophornbeam (Ironwood) measuring 67 inches at 4.5 feet, has a height of 93 feet and a crown spread of 33 feet.
In Vigo County, the state record holder green ash measures 218.40 inches at 4.5 feet, has a height of 82 feet, and a crown spread of 90.6 feet. Of all Indiana counties, Vanderburgh County boasts the greatest number of Big Tree Champs with 26 different species, followed by St. Joe and Posey counties each having five species being champs, followed by Fayette, Owen and Perry counties which each have three species that are champs.
We are looking for BIG TREES in both CLAY & OWEN counties as a way to highlight the importance of forestry to the local area. The thrill of the hunt may send you into the woods, farms, backyards, and roadsides in search of the biggest trunks and loftiest limbs. Besides locating new big specimens, hopefully people will see trees in a new light, illuminating the majesty of living things in our midst that may have been around since the Civil War or longer in the local area.
Trees can add value to your home, help cool your home and neighborhood break the cold winds to lower your heating costs, and provide food for wildlife. The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees properly placed around buildings canreduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.
To obtain a BIG TREE Nomination Form call the Extension Office or visit www.extension.purdue.edu/clay to download form. The Owen and Clay County Soil and Water Conservation Districts as well as the IDNR district foresters have indicated that they are willing to assist and help in this effort. Your role is to get out there and nominate trees! Please always respect property rights and ask permission prior to going onto private property owned by others.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. Please call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
March 4 Regional Dairy Meeting, Rockville, 9 a.m.
March 5 Tri-County No-till Breakfast, Greencastle, 8 a.m.
March 13 Ag Day Dinner, Brazil, 6:30 p.m.
March 14-15 Lawn & Garden Show, Greencastle
March 15 Get Ready, Get Set, Go Garden, Terre Haute, 8 a.m.
March 17 Owen County Ag Day Dinner, Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.
March 18 Renewable Energy Grant Workshop, Rockville, 11 a.m.
April 2 Starting a Community Kitchen, Indianapolis, 8 a.m.
April 8 Bi-State Forestry Workshop, Beef House, 6:30 p.m.
April 12 Sheep Shearing School, Greencastle, 9 a.m.
April 24 Starting a Specialty Food Business, Indianapolis, 8 a.m.
April 30 Fish Cleaning Workshop, Bloomington, 6 p.m.
May 1 Fish Cleaning Workshop, Crawfordsville, 6 p.m.