By Martha Fehl
Could this tree qualify as a champion?
Last year, Dana O’Brian of Prattville, Ala., was reading an article about the biggest sycamore tree in Alabama, one that had recently earned the title Alabama Champion Tree.
After reading the dimensions and looking outside in her own yard, she thought her sycamore might be larger.
She went to the Alabama Forestry Commission’s Champion Tree Program webpage — www.forestry.state.al.us — and registered.
The tree was a beautiful example of a sycamore, 164 inches circumference and at a height of 85 feet with a 68-foot spread. In 2009, it was welcomed along with 24 other giants as new champion trees.
Remember the song at Christmas with lyrics about the chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Well, an extremely elegant chestnut tree 74 feet high has quietly spent decades in Talladega National Forest. Two years ago, a U.S. Forest Service worker noticed it and documented its location.
It is now a very unusual survivor and champion tree in Alabama. The American Chestnut Foundation is very interested in it as one of the largest survivors of its kind. Because of a rare Asian fungus disease, many chestnut trees died around 1900, and the trees had nearly become extinct. That this particular tree is still alive is good news to those who seek to restore the trees.
For the past 70 years, the American Forests’ National Register of Big Trees has assisted citizens in finding the largest of the 826 specials of trees in the United States. Those trees are listed in the National Register of Big Trees.
You can learn more about how to nominate and measure big trees here:
Like Dana O’Brian in Prattville, Ala., you might have one in your own back yard.