Earlier this month I visited Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA, and acquired a new hobby. I was with my kids so I spent nearly as much time in the gift shop as in the fabulous treehouses, and I picked up a copy of Big Trees of Pennsylvania. Tyler Arboretum is home to quit a few Champion Trees — the largest of their kind in Pennsylvania, including one of the largest PA trees of any kind — a mammoth tulip poplar (Liriondendron tulipifera) 133 feet tall.
I missed that tree while climbing Tyler’s gorgeous treehouses and coaxing my youngest daughter to keep walking, but now I’m planning to visit and document more of Pennsylvania’s biggest trees, as tracked by PAbigtrees.com.
What makes a Champion Tree? Trees are tracked by species and accrue points as follows:
Trunk circumference: Measured 4.5 feed about the ground level, one point accorded per inch.
Height: One point per foot, measured with a clinometer, hand level, or range finder.
Crown spread: 1/4 point per foot of the average between the smallest and widest crown spread.
It’s hard to recognize a Champion just by looking because they are species-specific. The largest tree in Pennsylvania overall is a Mercersburg American Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis) with a whopping 529 points, but the largest crabapple is only 84. So I’m not going to be identifying them, unless I get extremely lucky, but looking at them in their environment.
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