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50 Years of Champion Trees

Apr 09, 2018

Everyone likes to root for a champion.  And when that champion is rooted in the ground, it’s an award-winning affair.  For 50 years, Missouri has registered champion trees with state records in over 100 species around the state.  A record tree is decided on a point system that includes height, crown, spread, and trunk size.  The largest tree on record is a bald cypress tree in southeast Missouri. 

Many champion trees have been found in city parks, cemeteries, and conservation areas.  Others have gained their status because they are in extremely difficult to reach locations.

Everyone is invited to join the search for the next Missouri champion tree.   You can make it a family outing looking for unreported giants, just waiting to be discovered.  Even small trees have champions in their species. 

Trees are the largest and oldest living organisms.  They grow through several of our generations and mark milestones in our lives.   The MUNY opera theater was founded between two oak trees 100 years ago in Forest Park in St. Louis.  Those trees framed the stage through the decades.  When one succumbed to a disease a few years ago, a Civil War era bullet was found in its trunk.  The state champion beech tree looms large over the Mississippi in downtown Cape Girardeau. With an approximate age of 200, it may have even been around at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Find some champion trees near you below and watch a video of a special champion with its own Facebook page and family caretakers.

We Are the Champions

Have you seen these Missouri state champion trees?  

  • Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) - University of Missouri campus in Boone County
  • Basswood, white (Tilia heterophylla) - Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis
  • Buckeye, red (Aesculus pavia) - Forest Park in St. Louis
  • Hackberry, dwarf (Celtis tenuifolia) - Tan-Tar-A Resort in Camden County
  • Walnut, black (Juglans nigra) - Hazelwood Cemetery in Springfield
  • Smoke tree (Cotinus obovatus) - Vaile Mansion in Independence
  • Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) - Mark Twain National Forest

Do you think you have a champion tree? You can find eligible species and access the nomination form for the Missouri Champion Tree Program.

Baldcypress_LaValle Trust 2016.jpg

Champion Bald Cypress Tree
Champion Bald Cypress Tree

Keeper of the Tree

Enjoy the story of the keeper of a very special oak tree in McBaine, Mo.
Enjoy the story of the keeper of a very special oak tree in McBaine, Mo.

Champion Bur Oak Tree Plein Air Artist

Watch a champion bur oak tree come to life on canvas
Watch a champion bur oak tree come to life on canvas


Champion Beech Tree
Champion Beech Tree
Champion Beech Tree in downtown Cape Girardeau

Possumhaw_Tower Grove Park STL.jpg

Champion Possum Haw (Deciduous Holly)
Champion Possum Haw (Deciduous Holly) Tower Grove Park

Blackhaw_MU in Columbia 2017.jpg

Champion Blackhaw (MU Campus)
Champion Blackhaw (MU Campus)

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