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 Big Trees every two years. The 2012 edition of the Register includes 111 Florida species, many of which are only found in the tropical region of the state. Florida now has the most national champions of any state. The largest National Champion tree in Florida is a native bald cypress located in Hamilton County. This tree measures 557 inches in circumference, stands 84 feet tall, and carries a crown spread of 49 feet.
Florida began keeping a state register, the Florida Champion Tree Register, in 1975 to recognize the largest tree of each species within this state. It now contains hundreds of trees, including the national champions. All native and non-invasive naturalized tree species are eligible for nomination.
Although not a national champion, The Senator was the largest native tree of any kind in Florida until its demise in January 2012. This gigantic bald cypress overlooked Big Tree Park in Seminole County from a height of 118 feet. It measured 425 inches in circumference, and spread its crown over an average of 57 feet.
The Florida Champion Tree database allows users to sort or query species, types, sizes and locations of champions and other large trees located in Florida.
The default page displays all trees in the database, listed alphabetically by common name. Details for an individual tree, including photos, can be viewed by selecting the PK number located in the first column on the left. Trees can be sorted alphanumerically by selecting the up or down arrows next to the column title.
Searching the Database
- Several search options are available. Manually search for a tree by selecting the common or scientific name in the top left box, then typing the name or keyword in the box immediately to the right and selecting the search button.
- Other options for finding trees include drop-down menus for scientific name, common name, group type, and native or nonnative species.
- A search may be narrowed by selecting a county.
- A list of the champion trees located on the same property can be generated by selecting Parcel Name on the same drop-down menu with County, and then manually entering the parcel name in the adjoining text box.
- Always select the search button for results.
NOTE: Not all drop-down box combinations will result in a match, so make sure the default (usually ALL) is selected in any search boxes that are not to be included in the results.
Search for a champion:
Note: Where the ownership type for a tree is listed as private, please obtain permission from the property owner, in advance, before visiting the location.
Can't Find a Particular Species?
- Listed invasive exotics are ineligible.
- Nonnative trees not recognized by American Forests can be certified as state champions.
A number of native Florida tree species currently do not have champions. We especially encourage people to nominate trees from this species list.
Measuring a Champion Tree
The individual tree of each particular species with the highest point total is considered the Champion for that species. If two or more trees have point totals within two percent (2%) of each other, they are considered to be co-champions. The Florida Forest Service has created Florida Champion Tree Measuring Procedures [ ] to provide specific help with measuring.
Measurements need to be verified by a Florida Forest Service County Forester before a tree is certified as a champion.
Nomination of a Florida Champion Tree is open to all species of trees that grow in Florida, whether native or naturalized. Palm trees are included. Species listed as invasive exotics by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council are not eligible for nomination. Certain species growing in this state may not be eligible for national champion status, but can be recognized as Florida Champions.
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.
How to Nominate
Submitting paper nominations is also still an option. Completed nominations with digital photos are sent to the Urban Forestry Coordinator of the Florida Forest Service. If a tree is a candidate for national champion, the Florida Forest Service will forward the nomination to American Forests.