It’s All Good in the Wood
Trees, Glorious Trees!
2013 Update: I just happened to notice that the people who keep such lists have added a bunch to/taken a couple from our National Champions! I guess I hadn’t thought much about this list being so changeable. But it is – quite a bit actually. So if I get to a national champion one day and it’s not longer a champ the next, the page will remain with a note. If I don’t get to one, and it drops from the list, I’ll treat it as a non-entity.
2012 Update: As anyone in northern CT knows, we had a devastating snowstorm on Halloween weekend in 2011. With the leaves still on the trees, and the snow being the heavy/wet variety, tens of thousands of trees snapped – taking down power lines. 830,000 people lost power. We lost ours for 7 days in West Hartford. Worse things have happened to many more people, but know this: it was not fun around here for that week. FEMA was called in and I never would ever have thought I’d see FEMA trucks on my street. Here’s a video from some guy which is cool because he captures what it was like outside the night trees started snapping and transformers started blowing up.
But we survived, wholly intact. Many of our historic and champion trees did not. And that bums me out. I’ll put updates on the trees’ pages as to which were destroyed and which are probably doomed.
Longtime and/or thorough readers know that I enjoy trees. Perhaps because my last name is Wood, I don’t know. Then again, who doesn’t like trees? Even Michael Jackson liked to climb trees, right? Note: I don’t think the King of Pop and I share any other common interests.
As much as I like trees, there are others who really really like trees. And among those tree-lovers, there are a few who focus on BIG TREES. Not just redwoods and sequoias, but the biggest of each and every tree species (native and introduced) in the country. To that point, I’m scanning the list of National Champions right now and there’s the otherworldly Giant Sequoia of California followed immediately by the National Champion Downy Serviceberry or… Glastonbury, Connecticut.
Yup, we have a grand total of 11 (in 2013) National Champion Trees here in the Nutmeg state. (No, a nutmeg tree is not among them.) I’ve become intrigued by this whole idea and list and have read a lot about how it all works. I won’t burden you with such unimportant information, but will encourage you to check it out on your own:
CT’s Notable Trees Project run by a cool guy down at Conn College.
Turn on your volume and listen to this. It explains it all.
Just how do they measure these giant trees?
The National Register of Big Trees
Nice pdf of National Champion Trees
Let’s focus on our current National Champions. Never mind that several of them are co-champions, for they are still champions. The Keepers of the List don’t exactly broadcast the exact locations of these trees, lest the stampede of big tree fans bother the private land owners. But a certain respected member of Connecticut’s blogging community (ahem) has been apprised of the locations and now the hunt is on.
A couple of these bad boys are on public property, so I’ll certainly not keep that info to myself. Others, though, I’ll not be so forthcoming – but let’s hope the landowners are with me.
Two more notes before we look at some trees: Neither the state’s largest tree nor the coolest tree are National Champion trees. You can check out my visits to them here (largest, Simsbury) and here (coolest; Granby). Also, CTMQ will NOT be tracking down the lesser category of Connecticut Champion trees. That would just be silly.
So, UConn basketball, Trinity Squash and… The following trees. National Champs all.
Trees I’ve been to:
Bear Oak (Quercus ilicifolia) in Windsor
Black Oak (Quercus velutina) in East Granby
Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) in Stonington
Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) in Hartford (RIP, no longer champion)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) in Glastonbury
Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) in Windsor
American Smoketree (Cotinus obovatus), Windham
Trees I have yet to see:
European Larch, (Larix decidua) in Greenwich (co-champion)
Gray Birch (Betula populifolia) in Colchester (co-champion)
Long-beaked or Bebb Willow (Salix bebbiana) in New London
Noble Fir (Abies procera) in Pomfret
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) in Old Lyme
Oneseed Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) in Old Saybrook (co-champion)
Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) in Glastonbury (co-champion)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) in East Hampton
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) in Lyme (co-champion)
Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) in Branford
Post- 2011 Halloween storm National Champion Bear Oak, Windsor