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Biggest Black Willow in America lives in Minnesota!

A DNR staff member officially measures the black willow which stands 
just 150 yards from the St. Croix River.
Photo: www.StCroix360.com
Just try to get your head and arms around this story! In early September, a black willow (Salix nigra) tree in Minnesota was named a National Champion by the National Forests organization in Washington, DC. The tree on private property in Marine on St. Croix knocked off the podium a New Hampshire champ. It means its bigger than any other known tree of this species in the United States and is now included in the Champion Tree National Register.

According to the National Forests website, the conservation organization recognizes trees because  "we recognize the beauty and critical ecosystem services provided by our biggest and oldest trees."

What makes a tree a champion?

The tree was also named a "State Champion" last year by the Mn Department of Natural Resources. Trees are nominated on a state and national level based on three measurements:
  1. Circumference in inches of the trunk measured 4-1/2 feet from the ground
  2. Height in feet
  3. One quarter of its crown spread in feet
Then the total of the above three measurements give a tree its total points. The tree with the most points is proclaimed a "Champion."

So here's the measurements of this black willow beauty:
  • 315 inches in circumference
  • 91 feet tall
  • And one-quarter of its crown spread is 75 feet
...which gives it a total score of 425.

Another Minnesota champion tree...

Minnesota's Champion Tamarack
Photo: Americanforests.org
But Minnesota also has another tree national champion listed on the register--a tamarack found in Brainerd, Minnesota.

This tamarack (Larix laricina) is:

  • 115 inches in circumference
  • 67 feet tall
  • and one-quarter of its crown spread is 67 fee

Learn more about champion trees and the Minnesota's Native Big Tree registry, by going to: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/trees_shrubs/bigtree/index.html

Author: Gail Hudson, Horticulture Communications Specialist
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