Champion Trees


Champion and big trees are living symbols of growth, adaptation, and sustainability. They are worthy of recognition and celebration. Champion trees are the largest known tree of a given species in a particular geographic area.

Some champions are very large trees, and some champions are rather small. For example, one of the largest known trees in Maryland, an American sycamore, is more than eight feet across while the largest known pawpaw in the United States is just one foot across. Both of these trees are growing in Montgomery County.

In Montgomery County, the Forestry Board keeps track of and measures more than 300 large and significant trees. The Forestry Board has kept a Register of Champions since 1989. Montgomery County is home to many Big Tree Champions of Maryland. Here's the State's list. Also, there are several National Champion Trees in Montgomery County.


Blackgum (Tupelo) State and Montgomery County Champion This blackgum, or tupelo, is the State and Montgomery County Champion. It's 5-1/2 feet wide and more than 90 feet tall.


Measuring Champions

Champion trees are measured and assigned points. The tree with the most points of each species is considered the largest or champion. The formula for points is:

Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + 1/4 Average Crown Spread (feet) = Total Points 

Click here for more information about how to measure a tree. This Champion Tree Measurement Formula was developed by Fred Besley, Maryland's first State Forester. With some modifications, it was later adopted nationwide and is still used today. Mr. Besley began keeping records of "notable trees" in Maryland in 1925.

Champion trees in Montgomery County are measured using the same guidelines used by the American Forests National Big Tree Program. Each tree must be measured at least once every ten years to maintain its champion status. The measuring guidelines were revised in 2015.