We can imagine there has been a special interest in big trees for as long as mankind has been present in The Ocean State, however, it wasn't until the 1930s that "champion tree hunting" became a hobby for some. Perhaps the decline of the American Elm prompted us to start recording the biggest trees in our towns and cities. The earliest tree measurement we have on record was made on March 16, 1931 by John B. Hudson of Hope for a black oak in Buttonwoods "where the Shriner's Hospital is". From the 1940s through the 1960s Elizabeth G. Weeks of Providence kept the file of big tree measurements in a wooden box labeled simply "E's Tree Measurements". These measurements were often collected on AMC hikes and outings in RI and other places in New England.
The 2013 Rhode Island Champion Trees edition is now available and can be obtained by making a $15 donation to RITree's Champion Tree Fund.In this publication is found a special in-depth look at the notable trees of Wilcox Park in Westerly, many of them reigning champions.Also, included are summary lists of the top 25 trees by trunk circumference, height, crown spread and, of course, by total point score.
The booklet's highlight is hard to beat. It's the complete itemization in alphabetical order of all 132 species' champions as of December 31, 2013.
Three measurements are needed to nominate a big tree. They are:
- Trunk circumference (measured in inches)
- Vertical tree height (measured in feet)
- Average crown spread (measured in feet)
How to correctly obtain these measurements is explained below: