The Big Trees of Washington County
I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. Joyce Kilmer
Big trees inspire awe and admiration. Their immense, enduring presence invites us to consider the events they have witnessed, the lives they have touched. While almost all of eastern North America’s original forests have been removed, they remain as living reminders of a bygone era.
The Big Tree program began with Frederick W. Besley, Maryland’s first state forester, who compiled the “Noted Tree List” for Maryland in 1925. The list grew quickly and the search was extended to include the biggest specimens of trees of all species growing in Maryland (big or little.) The program soon became a national endeavor, and the search, measurement, and recordation of “big trees” continues to the present time.
A tree is defined as a woody plant having a circumference of at least 9.5” measured 4.5’ above the ground, and a height of at least 13’. The list includes trees that are native or naturalized, meaning that while not native, they can grow and reproduce on their own. Because trees can be found as shrubs and shrubs can sometimes be trees, native shrubs that meet the definition of tree can be nominated and will be measured and registered.
The current list of Maryland’s champion big trees, and much more, can be found at A complete list of eligible tree species and the list of current national champions can be found at Information about the program, how to measure trees, how points are calculated, and nomination forms can be found at and .
There are many non-native tree species in Maryland, which are not considered naturalized. Some of these species can grow quite large, such as ginkgo, European beech, horsechestnut, English elm, and others. If individuals of these species are nominated, they will be measured and registered, but they are not eligible for championship status at the national level. They can be state and county champions.
Our listed big trees can be viewed at the .
Decorating the border of this page are the leaves and fruits of many of our native trees.
Chestnut Oak leaves
White pine cone
Eastern Red Cedar
Red Oak Acorns
American Beech leaves
Silver Maple leaf
Black Oak Leaves
Northern White Cedar
Pin Oak Leaves
White Oak Leaves
Norway Spruce Cone
Chestnut Oak Acorn
Black Oak Acorns
Pitch Pine Cons
White Oak Acorns
Red Maple Leaf
Red Oak Leaves