Florida’s Champion Tree Program
The Champion Tree Program was created by the American Forests organization in 1940 to recognize the largest known tree of each species in the United States. American Forests publishes their “National Register of Champion Trees” every two years. The 2018 edition of the Register includes 120 Florida champions, many of which are only found in the tropical region of the state. Florida leads the nation as the state with the most national champs.
A copy of the Register can be viewed and downloaded from the American Forests National Register of Champion Trees web page. The largest National Champion tree in Florida is a native Florida Strangler Fig located in Miami-Dade County. This tree measures 342 inches in circumference, stands 69 feet tall, and carries an average crown spread of 72 feet.
Florida began keeping a state register in 1975 to recognize the largest tree of each species within this state. The Florida Champion Tree Program now contains hundreds of tree species, including the national champs. All native and non-invasive naturalized tree species are eligible for nomination.
The largest tree in the Florida Champion Tree register is a non-native Kapok tree (not eligible for national certification) located in Palm Beach County. This tree owes its ranking to its large buttressed root flair. Measured at a height of 4 1/2 feet, the trunk has a circumference of 75 feet around! The Florida Champion Bald Cypress in Hamilton County is the largest native tree in Florida measuring 557 inches in circumference, 84 feet in height with a 49 foot average crown spread.
For questions regarding the Florida Champion Tree Program contact the Florida Champion Tree Program Administrator at 386-985-6706 or Stephen.Lloyd@FreshFromFlorida.com.
Nominating a Champion Tree
Anyone can nominate a tree, whether it is located on public or private land. However, before nominations of trees on privately owned land can be approved, the owner must complete and sign the property owner agreement, which grants the Florida Forest Service written permission to accept the nomination of the tree and display specific information.
To nominate a tree, contact your local Florida Forest Service County Forester or the Urban Forestry Programs Coordinator. The forester will make arrangements to verify the measurements and take required photos of the tree. If a tree is a candidate for national champion, the Florida Forest Service will forward the nomination to American Forests.
Completed nominations with digital photos should be sent to:
Urban Forestry Coordinator
Florida Forest Service
3125 Conner Boulevard, C-25
Tallahassee, FL 32399
If a tree is a candidate for consideration as a National Champion, the Florida Forest Service will forward the nomination to American Forests.