BOONVILLE, Mo. -- There is something about a big tree that commands interest, respect, and a certain amount of awe. Jim Weyland of Howard County has a big tree that not only induces awe; he now has reason to celebrate it as well, as it was recently named a Missouri Champion northern red oak (Quercus rubra) by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
Weyland’s tree measures 216 inches in circumference, stands 98 feet high and has an average crown spread of 74 feet.
Weyland has owned his property for 41 years. He said it was his son’s friend who mentioned how big he thought the tree was and told Weyland he should have it measured.
“I first got it measured in 1996,” Weyland said. “At that time, it was the second largest in the state.”
In April, MDC Regional Forestry Supervisor Susan Troxel-Dewitt contacted Weyland to see if she could re-measure the tree. “Our previous champion northern red oak was removed from the list because we couldn’t get it re-verified,” said Troxel-Dewitt. “So Weyland’s was next on the list.”
After MDC called Weyland, he was happy to set-up a time to take a new measurement of the tree. Taking a measurement of such a large tree proved tricky for the MDC foresters.
“They had a hard time getting tape around its trunk,” laughed Weyland. “It’s pretty big and that was fun watching them measure it.”
Since it was last measured in 1996, the tree has gained a whopping 16 inches of circumference.
“Considering some of the weather conditions we’ve had since 1996, that is great growth for this tree,” said Troxel-Dewitt
Through the years, the stately red oak has sat far back on Weyland’s property, nestled in a place he doesn’t see every day. However, that does not matter to him. He knows the tree is there, available any time he wants to stroll by to admire its beauty and awe-inducing size.
Weyland said he was happy to receive the distinction of having the champion Missouri northern red oak on his property. He will receive a mounted certificate noting his tree’s status as well as all the bragging rights associated with owning a champion tree.
“I’d never cut it down,” said Weyland. “It’s a big tree!”
How big is big? American Forests and MDC use a formula to assign a point value for big trees. Points are determined by a tree's height, crown spread, and trunk size. The formula adds the circumference in inches (measured at a point 4.5 feet above the ground) to the height in feet and one-fourth of the average crown spread.
Using this formula, the largest known living tree in Missouri is an American sycamore with a point total of 457. The tree with the largest circumference is the same sycamore at 27 feet 9 inches. A pumpkin ash with a height of 150 feet is our tallest tree. The greatest crown spread--200 feet--belongs to another American sycamore. This tree covers over half an acre.
Think you may have a champion tree? Visit mdc.mo.gov and search for “Champion Tree.” There you will find information on how to nominate your tree.
“The Missouri Champion tree program is a way to celebrate and recognize these big trees,” said Troxel-DeWitt. “There are still many unreported giants, waiting to be discovered.”
What are you waiting for? Get outdoors and see if you can find the next champion tree of Missouri.