Champs of Pennsylvania: Local trees make the cut in statewide registry

August 3, 2018

In Pennsylvania, a tree doesn’t have to be the tallest to be considered a champion.

The nonprofit Pennsylvania Forestry Association keeps a registry of the state’s biggest trees -- Champion Trees of Pennsylvania -- which comprises the tallest trees in the state and the tallest trees locally.

Champion trees, which represent the largest of their particular species, number more than 1,700, and the list is growing. Jack Tickle, a farmer in Bell Township, recently nominated a red oak on his property to be added to the registry. The tree is 120 feet tall and has a circumference of about 26 feet.

The Pennsylvania Forestry Association maintains PAbigtrees.com, which lists 34 species of big trees, as defined by their circumference, height, average crown spread and location.

Of the tallest trees of each species, only one is in southwestern Pennsylvania - a tamarack located at 54 Enlow Road, Imperial. The tree, nominated by the homeowner in 2000, is listed as being 81.5 feet high, with a circumference of 122 inches and a crown spread of 38 feet. It was last measured in 2013.

While they’re not the tallest, 10 other trees in Allegheny County are considered Champion Trees of Pennsylvania based on a point system that assigns one point for each foot of height, one point for each inch of circumference and a quarter point for every foot of average spread.

In addition to the tamarack, Allegheny County has five oaks on the list and an eastern cottonwood, a Chinese scholar tree, a sweet birch, a mountain silverbell and an eastern burning bush.

Westmoreland County also has 11 trees on the registry, including five oaks, two dogwoods, an American sycamore, a tulip poplar, a honey locust and a Japanese lilac.

Crown spread is a horizontal measurement in two directions, from leaf tip to leaf tip. The website gives instructions on how to measure height and circumference at breast height.

Nomination forms are available on the website.