American Forests released this month its 2020 Champion Trees National Register. Established in 1940, the register curates the largest specimens of nearly 600 native and naturalized tree species found in the United States. Trees are scored and ranked using measurements of height, trunk girth, and crown spread. Specimens with scores differing less than 3% are crowned co-champions of a species.

The 2020 register recognizes 654 trees as national champions or co-champions. Nominations for champion trees are accepted from anyone in the general public and are vetted annually by state big tree coordinators affiliated with forestry agencies and universities.

Virginia led all states in 2020 with 102 registered trees (champions and co-champions), followed by Florida (92), Texas (75), and Arizona (57).

Virginia’s 67 species champions was second only to Florida, which had 77. Notable additions to the 2020 national register from Virginia include:

• Alleghany serviceberry, Smyth County, 194 points

• American elm, City of Chesapeake, 391 points

• Black cherry, City of Norfolk, 314 points

• Red hickory, Caroline County, 278 points

• Southern magnolia, Sussex County, 342 points

 Photos and stories of Virginia’s national and state champion big trees are curated in the Virginia Big Tree Register.

Since 1970, the Virginia Big Tree Program has promoted forest conservation and stewardship through collaboration of the Virginia Forestry Association, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Virginia Department of Forestry. The Virginia Big Tree Register is maintained by Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation with support from Trees Virginia. Big Tree nominations in Virginia are accepted year-round from the public using an online nomination form. Assistance with measuring and scoring big trees is available through a network of program volunteers.

Did You Know:

  • In one day, one large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air.

  • One large tree can provide a supply of oxygen for two people.

  • Most tree roots are in the top 12 inches of soil.

  • Trees are the largest living organisms on earth: some coastal redwoods are more than 360 feet tall.

  • A mature tree removes almost 70 times more pollution than a newly planted tree.

  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and save 20-50 percent in heating energy.

  • Trees are some of the oldest living organisms on earth: some bristle-cone pines are thought to be more than 5000 years old.

  • Most trees do not have a tap root.

  • A birdhouse hung on a young tree branch, does not move up the tree as the tree grows.

  • Well-maintained trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14%.

  • Every state has an official State Tree. Virginia adopted the flowering dogwood Cornaceae Cornus floridaas the State Tree on February 24, 1956.  The dogwood is well distributed throughout the...

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American Grove     Virginia Department of Forestry     Mid-Atlantic Chapter International Society of Arboriculture