MDC awards new state champion tree in Clayton

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

CLAYTON, Mo.—There’s a new champion in the contest for the Show-Me-State’s finest trees, and it’s an excellent specimen located in the City of Clayton.  The State Champion Tree Program administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recognizes Missouri’s largest native trees by species. 

MDC has recently certified another tree in St. Louis County to add to that distinguished list—an Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra).  The Ohio buckeye normally grows in rich or rocky woods of valleys, ravines, gentle or steep slopes, bases of bluffs, edges of low woods, thickets, and occasionally on edges of limestone glades.  It’s a popular ornamental tree that flowers in April and May.  Hummingbirds use the greenish yellow, tubular flowers for their nectar. 

The new champion tree resides on private land in Clayton.  The tree is 153 inches in circumference at 4.5 feet off the ground, 81 feet tall and has a spread of 56 feet. 

“This tree is simply amazing,” said MDC Community Forester Danny Moncheski.  “It was likely present already between 1920 and 1930, before homes were built close to its root system. The developers did not disturb the soil around the home site, allowing the tree to grow with little stress.”

Moncheski praised the property owners for their excellent care of the tree. “By implementing practices, such as a tree protection plan during construction and renovation, the family has minimized any damage to the tree’s root structure.  What a wonderful tree that has no signs of slowing down,” Moncheski said.

Missouri’s champion trees are selected based on a formula which gives the tree a point value.   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, to one-fourth of the average crown spread.  MDC awards official recognition plaques to both the nominator and the owner of a champion tree.

State champion trees are often discovered and nominated by members of the public.  MDC recommends that if a person feels they may know a possible candidate they should first correctly identify the tree and measure the trunk as previously described.  They can then go to  on MDC’s website and download the nomination form, fill it out and submit it with a photo of the tree.  A complete list and specifications of all current Missouri champion trees can also be found there.