Big trees are fascinating! They spur imagination, provide insight to land use history, and grace our landscape with nobility. Visit the photo gallery of some of Vermont's largest trees.
In 1972, a list of Vermont's biggest trees began to assemble under the guidance of Jeff Freeman, a now-retired professor from Castleton State College. The list contained the diameters of 27 of the largest trees known at the time. This list was later expanded in 1977 and 1982 to 75 and 81 species, respectively. By 1990 the list had grown to include 91 species and followed the inventory system that American Forests has used since the mid-twentieth century, which includes species, circumference at breast height, tree height, and crown spread as criteria. The American Forests National Register of Big Trees currently lists 734 species. Vermont's list contains 110 species. They range in score from 48 for the dwarf chinkapin oak in Bridport to an eastern cottonwood in Hubbarton with a score of 439. Jeff Freeman continued to manage the list up until 2008, when he turned his files over to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, & Recreation (VT FPR). Jeff is still engaged with Vermont's big tree hunters, but the program is now housed at VT FPR.
How to Measure a Big Tree
The Vermont Register of Big Trees uses American Forests' formula and criteria to determine whether a tree is a champion. There are three measurements that are taken into consideration:
Circumference in inches, taken 4.5 feet above the ground (unless root swell, low branches, or multiple stems require adjustment);
Height in feet from the ground to the highest branch; and
Crown spread, averaged from the longest and shortest points across the tree's canopy