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Champions of the 'Big Trees'

Thursday, January 27, 2011

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 (2010) has recently been published.

When reviewing this publication and comparing it to the last edition, you will see that some of the champions have come tumbling down.

First though, how are champion trees determined?

All trees are measured for their height, crown spread, and circumference.

Circumference is measured at 4-and-a-half feet above soil level.

The crown spread is the average distance from one side of the tree's crown to the other.

The champion trees must be one of the native tree species listed in the "Trees of Indiana" book written by the first state forester of Indiana, Charles C. Deam.

Now, without further ado, let's take a look at what champion trees have been located in our area.

Clay County is home to the largest White Oak in Indiana (110' high, 138' crown spread). The largest Pin Oak can be found in Greene County (109' high, 110' crown spread). Monroe County is the home for the largest Yellowwood and it is found on the Indiana University campus (57' high, 40.25' crown spread).

The largest Black Maple can be found in Morgan County (80' high, 80' crown spread), and the Canada Plum (59' high, 33.75' crown spread).

The largest American Elm can be found in Parke County (114' high, 127' crown spread).

The winner in our area for the county with the most champion trees is Vigo County.

Their claim to fame includes the Blue Ash (103' high, 89' crown spread), the Green/Red Ash (95' high, 96' crown spread), the Black Locust Honeylocust (73' high, 47' crown spread), the Thornless Honeylocust (105' high, 93' crown spread), the Swamp White Oak (134' high, 109' crown spread), and the Tamarack (82' high, 56' crown spread).

Of all Indiana counties, Vanderburgh County boasts the greatest number of Big Tree champs with 32 different species, followed by St. Joseph County with seven, and Vigo County with six.

Next up is Daviess County with four, followed by Owen County, Perry County, Posey County and Washington County with three.

On a side note, Indiana is home to three national big tree champions.

They are the American Smoketree, the Paulownia, and the Jack Pine.

Of those three trees, the Jack Pine is the only native tree species to Indiana and is included in the Indiana Big Tree Register.

The Jack Pine is located on the campus of Purdue University.

Even though it will be another five years until the next Indiana Big Tree Register is published, keep your eyes open and look out for a big tree that might be eligible for the register.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Feb. 1 -- Purdue Master Gardener Program, 6-9 p.m., Owen County Extension Office, and

* Feb. 14 -- Back to Basics: Novice's Guide to Farm Animals, 6-8:30 p.m. Various locations around the state. Cost varies. Call 448-9031 for more information.