MDC presents State Champion Tree award for chinkapin oak in Columbia

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently recognized a chinkapin oak tree in Columbia, as the largest of its kind anywhere in the state. 

“I noticed the tree a couple of winters back, on my way out to visit a park,” said Ryan Russell, who nominated the tree for consideration in the State Champion Tree Program. “I knew it was the largest chinkapin oak I had seen in Missouri, but didn’t think it was tall enough or had a large enough diameter to best the current champion. This spring, I finally stopped in to ask the owner if I could measure it, because I wanted to know how close it was.”

MDC Community Forester Ann Koenig took an official measurement using a uniform formula to assess a point value to big trees. The formula, which accounts for the tree’s height, crown spread, and trunk size, scored 310 points for the tree Russell nominated – dethroning the previous state champion chinkapin oak in St. Charles County by only 17 points. 

Upon determining the tree to be the largest of its kind on record, Koenig awarded plaques and bragging rights to Russell and the homeowners who care for the tree in their yard in Columbia. 

“Missouri’s State Champion Tree Program recognizes the largest known tree of each kind of native tree in Missouri,” said Koenig. “Like the Olympics for athletes, the program puts a spotlight on those trees that outgrow all others of their kind.”

In an effort to help generate awareness and appreciation for our state’s trees and forests, MDC invites everyone to join in the search for Missouri’s champion trees. 

“The nomination process is quick and easy, and Missouri has one of, if not the best programs in the country,” said Russell.   

To learn more about the State Champion Tree Program visit