In Search of Champions

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

in a forest has a much smaller crown. This formula reduces the effect crown size has on total points. Trees that score within five points of each other are listed as co-champions.With this system, the biggest tree on record in Missouri is a baldcypress in New Madrid County with 456 points. Close behind is a sycamore in Cape Girardeau with 453 points. The baldcypress also has the largest trunk of any tree in the state. Its circumference is 310 inches, or more than 8 feet in diameter. The tallest tree is the 150-foot national champion pumpkin ash in Big Oak Tree State Park. By comparison, the largest tree on the national register is a whopping 1,300-point giant sequoia.

Anyone can nominate a champion tree. In fact, most of the nominations received every year are from people who have found a big tree on their land or in their neighborhood. Even before there was a champion tree list, Joseph Stearns predicted its popularity, saying that big tree hunting is " . . . a happy task in which everyone going into the woods can participate."

Measuring a champion tree is relatively simple. If your tree is close to the record, you may want to have your local Conservation Department forester verify the species and measurements for the official records. Nomination forms and a list of current champions are also available from Conservation Department offices or can be printed from our web site at The owner and nominator of each champion tree will receive a certificate mounted on a walnut plaque and earn all the bragging rights associated with finding or owning a champion tree.

Where to Find Champion Trees

Missouri's champion trees are found throughout the state, in parks, cemeteries, woodlots and front yards. Any place where trees are relatively undisturbed and are left to grow has the potential to have a champion tree. Listed below are some public areas where visitors can view champion trees.

Big Oak Tree State Park in Mississippi County has been called the "Park of Champions." It probably has more big trees within its boundaries than anywhere else in the state. Big Oak Tree is home to six state champion trees, including pumpkin ash, swamp chestnut oak, rusty blackhaw, persimmon, possumhaw and black willow. Two of these, the persimmon and pumpkin ash, also qualify as national champs. The big trees are marked, and hiking trails

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