|Ohio's current state champion Ohio buckeye tree is growing in Hamilton County where it stands 82 feet high and 162 inches in circumference. High res photo
Ohio proudly staked its claim this year to the nations number one college football team. But those Buckeyes notwithstanding, another national champion Ohio buckeye remains firmly planted in the soil of another state.
Sad to say, the countrys largest Ohio buckeye tree is not here in the Buckeye State, where we might expect it to be found. Instead, those bragging rights belong to our southerly neighbor, Kentucky.
Deep in the heart of Bluegrass Country, there grows an Ohio buckeye tree 148 feet tall and 151 inches around. It just doesnt seem right that the largest known example of Ohios official state tree isnt standing tall somewhere between the shores of Lake Erie and the banks of the Ohio River.
Everyone benefits from one or more things obtained from trees, but few things are as awe-inspiring as a huge tree, swaying in the breeze and dominating the landscape. Big trees have a spiritual quality - they give us a sense of continuity, and are important links to our natural past. By just standing tall and proud, they help cleanse our air and provide aesthetic pleasure to even the most casual observer.
Seeking to identify and preserve the largest of each tree species, American Forests - a conservation organization based in Washington, D.C. - collects a list of our nations grandest trees. To date, theyve recorded 826 national champion Big Trees, representing the largest-known specimens of native and naturalized trees in the United States. And, they count on folks like you and me to help find and nominate these outstanding specimens.
To qualify as a state or national champion tree, three measurements are taken into consideration: the circumference, height and crown spread. These numbers are added to obtain an index number, and the tree with the largest index number receives the revered rank of national champion Big Tree. The biggest Big Tree in the entire nation is a giant sequoia in California. Known as the General Sherman, it soars a neck-wrenching 261 feet in the sky and is 1,024 inches around (thats about 85 feet)!
Closer to home, Ohios largest tree is the swamp white oak tree - the largest of its kind in the nation. Located in Washington County, its a stately 75-foot high specimen that features a circumference of 282 inches and a crown spread of 107 feet. Experts with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry believe the tree could be 250 to 300 years old, which means it was already standing when the first European settlers arrived in Ohio in 1788!
With abundant and fertile woodland habitats, Ohio is home to thousands of these monarchs. A select few - 207 to be exact - have been nominated by individuals and singled out for Big Tree status in Ohio. Fourteen of those, like the Washington County swamp white oak, are also national "champion" trees - the largest of their kind in the country.
In addition to our swamp white oak, Ohio's other national champion Big Trees include a black ash, Kentucky coffeetree, Siberian elm, two slippery elms, Norway maple, northern pin oak, shingle oak, common pear, eastern redbud, two-winged silverbell, American smoketree and a yellowwood.
Today, the Division of Forestry is renewing efforts to find and catalog Ohios biggest, most magnificent trees and is seeking the help of other Big Tree "admirers" for the process. Nominations for potential Big Tree candidates are currently being accepted for a wide range of tree species growing in the Buckeye State.
If you go looking for a Big Tree, dont get lost in the forest. Youre best chances for success may be no farther than your yard, local park, arboretum or cemetery. Champion trees are less frequently found in dense woods where the competition is greater for sunshine and nutrients.
Measurements for nominating a Big Tree should include: trunk circumference at 4.5 feet above the ground, overall height (by comparing the tree to a nearby object), and crown spread at its widest and narrowest points. Big Tree nomination forms and other information about the program is available at ohiodnr.com
Ohio is a state with thriving, healthy forests and communities with a strong diversity of tree species. In fact, Ohio also leads the nation in the number of Tree City USA communities - a championship weve held for some 22 years. Thanks to wise forestry management, trees now cover more than 33 percent of our state.
As you enjoy the outdoors this spring and summer, be on the look out for a new state record tree - it might even be the largest of its kind in America. And, if you look hard enough, wouldnt it be fitting to find the nations largest Ohio buckeye tree right here in the state where it truly belongs?