Sure, Massachusetts can't claim anything like the giant redwoods that stretch upwards to 370 feet where they grow along the California and Oregon coast. But our little state has some really big -- and really old -- trees to boast about.
One Bay State tree, a black oak in West Newbury that was a sapling during the Revolutionary War, has enough girth (228 inches in diameter) and crown spread (77 feet) that the town's Tree Committee chair, Fred Chanania, nominated it for "State Champion" recognition by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The oak, which measures 99 feet in height, is estimated to be 290 years old.
The current state champion black oak has a point value of 337, while the local oak’s point value is 346. The National Champion Tree Registry uses a point system to determine “the largest, most interesting known tree of each species, trees of historical origins, and other trees of unique and significant importance growing within the state of Massachusetts,” according to the state’s website. A tree’s total points are based on its trunk circumference plus its height plus one-quarter of its average crown spread.
If you feel like you have splinters in your brain from all that math, it's still refreshing to think about people who appreciate and try to protect trees and can noodle over what history a tree has "witnessed."
Massachusetts isn't alone in touting the tallest, oldest and roundest trees, of course.
The Native Tree Society identified a white pine measuring 166.1 feet tall on a private estate in Claremont, New Hampshire, as that state's tallest tree. That tree, in a stand of white pines, was declared the tallest one and was "extraordinarily skinny," according to Robert Leverett, one of the men who measured it.
So as you bundle up and go for a stroll in these pandemic-stressed times, consider the trees around you. It's possible you're looking at a future state champ.