Now That’s a Big Tree!

By John Wilt

Spring, 2021

In your many walks through woodlands and prairies have you ever observed a really big tree? If so, you may want to record it with the Texas A&M Forestry Services Big Tree Registry. Their list of nearly 300 tree species evaluates tree girth [circumference], height and crown spread. The largest in the combined categories is awarded State Champion of its species.

W. W. Glover Cemetery Gate
photo: John Wilt

Last Fall I visited the W. W. Glover Cemetery in south Dallas. There I noticed a very large Post Oak tree. It seemed a little out of place in Dallas since they prefer sandy soils. I have seen stands of them growing in the very sandy Crawford Park. This one, in the cemetery, was the largest [girth wise for sure] I had ever seen. Naively thinking I found a Champion I went to the Texas A&M Forestry web-site where they list requirements and instructions how to measure trees. Measuring the girth and the spread of the branches over the ground was pretty easy. Determining the height was a challenge. A&M does publish one method but it involved helpers. Since I was alone the internet offered numerous methods for one person to use. One technique recommended using a scope on a sniper rifle. I passed on that one. I choose a method that involved measuring the length of your arm with a yard stick. I used that length along with simple trigonometry and a 100′ tape measure. I entered the measurements on the forms A&M provided and sent them to College Station.

Large Post Oak Tree
photo: John Wilt

I was told A&M sent out a Forester to remeasure the tree. They use a sophisticated laser devise to get a more accurate evaluation. My measurements were surprisingly close to theirs. The girth was 166” [13.8′], spread 49′ and height 50′. My high school trig had it at 52′ tall.

So is it the biggest Post Oak in Texas? Well, not quite. But it is the largest recorded in Dallas County! The Champion is in Bowie County. That one is 208” around, has a spread of 104′ and a height of 92′. Now that’s a big tree!

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