There is no doubt that people are captivated by big trees. When you think about big trees the first thing that probably comes to mind are Coastal Redwood, Giant Sequoia, or the giant Mountain Ash in Australia which is about 280 ft tall. While these species may hold world records, there is a chance that you know of a big tree on your property or a friend's property that is a state champion. I know just like in a sport, it's not as glorious as being a national champion, but hey it's still cool to say you own the state champion. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) keeps records of state champion trees. You may wonder what exactly does it mean for a tree to be a state champion. A champion tree will be the largest known specimen of its species in the state. The term 'biggest tree' can be ambiguous. Biggest in what regard? Tallest? Biggest diameter? Largest canopy spread? Well the answer is all of the above. The MDC uses a formula to assess a point value for a tree based on height, crown spread, and trunk circumference. So, you may be asking what trees can be counted as eligible to be a champion. According to the MDC it must be a native species and meet the definition of a 'tree' which is a "woody plant having one erect perennial stem (trunk) at least three inches in diameter at a point 4.5 feet above the ground, a definitely formed crown of foliage, and a mature height of at least 13 feet.". '
Now let's get down to how to measure a tree to submit to the MDC to see if you have a champ. First, start by getting yourself a champion tree nomination form (I will put the link below). Basically now all you have to do is identify the tree species (which may be the hardest part), measure the circumference at 4.5' from the ground, measure the height with a yard stick, and measure the canopy spread. You are probably saying 'easier said than done'. Well there is a great page via the MDC with images on the procedure to take all those measurements, which i will link below. After all that is taken care of and submitted you will have to wait to have an official follow up to confirm whether you have a champ or not. If you happen to have a champion tree the owner and nominator of each champion will receive a certificate mounted on a walnut plaque and you get bragging rights of course!
So next time you are going for a walk, or at your buddy's house and you notice an unusually large tree it may be worth it to see if you found a champion. It may make for good bar talk someday, or you can put the plaque by all your participation ribbons and make it a conversation piece. Also, remember not all champion trees are huge. The state champion Farkleberry, yes that's right Farkleberry, is only 3.8'' in diameter, so you never know, you may have a state champion lurking in your back yard.
State Champ Nomination Form: https://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/mostchamptrees_2015_app.pdf
How to Measure a Tree: https://mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants/missouri-state-champion-trees
*Image rights belong to MDC.