Champion Trees

A champion tree is 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, the largest known tree in Maryland, an American sycamore, is more than eight feet across while the largest known pawpaw in the United States is just ten inches 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. They use this information to identify the Montgomery County Champion of each species. The Forestry Board has kept a list of champions since 1989.

Image of a tape measure around the circumference of a tree. The circumference of the State and County Champion American sycamore

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 

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.

Image of two people measuring a champion tree. Forestry Board members measuring the circumference of a nominated tree.

Register of Champion Trees  

The Montgomery County Forestry Board publishes a new list of Champion Trees every odd-numbered year.

Champion Tree Registry Cover






You Can Nominate a Tree

Do you know of a great tree? Do you think you found a champion? You can nominate it. The Forestry Board accepts nominations at any time. Complete the nomination form below or call the local office of the Maryland Forest Service at 301-854-6060.