Big Tree Register
What is the Big Tree Register?
The New York State Big Tree Register is maintained by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as an effort to recognize trees of record size and promote an interest in the trees we come in contact with every day. The Big Tree Register is available in scientific name order (PDF, 370 KB) and common name order (PDF, 370 KB). The Big Tree Register lists only native and naturalized species and does not include hybrid species. The authority for determining eligible species is American Forests. A link to their website can be found in the right column of this page. In order to be a champion, the tree needs to have been measured or confirmed to exist within the last 10 years.
How is a Champion Determined?
To determine if a nominated tree is a champion for its species measurements of the tree are taken and used to calculate a total point score. The formula is the sum of the tree's height in feet, the trunk circumference in inches at 4 1/2 feet off the ground, and one quarter of the tree's average crown spread in feet.
Total Point Score = Height in feet + Trunk Circumference in inches + 1/4 Average Crown Spread in feet
Figuring the Crown Points: This component of the above formula causes the most confusion. There are two ways to determine this figure:
- (maximum + minimum crown spread in feet) divided by 2, and multiplied by .25.
- (maximum + minimum crown spread in feet) multiplied by .125.
How to Nominate a Big Tree
To nominate a big tree, you must first be certain of the tree's correct identification and then take some basic measurements to determine the tree's point score. Trees should be reported to a Regional DEC Office after the owner or nominator has correctly identified and measured the tree to determine that it exceeds the size of the current State Champion for that species. After initial measurements have been taken, contact the local DEC office in which the tree is located to have a forester verify the measurements. A completed New York State Big Tree Nomination Form (PDF) (74 KB) should then be submitted to a DEC Regional Office for verification and signature purposes. Please note: Measurements may be confirmed by non-DEC tree professionals experienced in identifying and measuring trees, for instance, certified arborists and cooperating foresters.
Read a Conservationist article about the Big Tree Program.
The Big Tree Register is part of a cooperative effort with American Forests, which maintains the National Register of Big Trees. Measurements of New York State champion trees that qualify as national champions or challengers are submitted and become part of that Register. National Challengers are trees not quite large enough to become Champions, however, their records are kept in order to select a new Champion if something should happen to the current titleholder. To obtain additional information on the National Big Tree Register, contact the Big Tree Program Director at the following address:
734 15th Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: (202) 955-4500
Fax: (202) 955-4588