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The trees that grow around us in New England often seem large to some especially when those trees are leaning over our homes. However, when compared to old growth forests found in the rest of the country the trees we know are generally quite small. Not often will a person find trees in Connecticut much older than 100 years. This lack of virgin forest, a term used to describe areas not disturbed by logging and development, is due to the agricultural society which consumed the northeast until around 200 years ago. As many people can understand generally the size of a tree is directly related to the age of that tree. However, all species of tree have different rates, as well as different habits of growth. Some species are understory trees, comprising the lower level of the forest, and will remain relatively small while others are large canopy trees and will grow incredibly tall. Fortunately, a list of trees that have reached a notable or champion size for their particular species in Connecticut has been compiled by the Connecticut College Arboretum.
In the late 1980 s the Connecticut Botanical Society under the leadership of Glenn Dryer set out to inventory all of the native and ornamental big trees of Connecticut and published their findings in a small book entitled Connecticut's Notable Trees. Written by Dryer it was published in 1989 as the Memoirs of the Connecticut Botanical Society, No. 2 by the Society and Covered Bridge Press. This publication provides a wealth of information on not only Connecticut's largest trees, but also trees of historic significance. You may also visit the Connecticut College Arboretum website for a more current list of notable trees as well as the most recent measurements of each tree. The website can be accessed by clicking here Notable Trees
The Bartlett Arboretum has over twenty trees of notable or champion status, many of which were planted by F.A. Bartlett when the property was being used as the research laboratory of the Bartlett Tree Company. Over the years several Champion trees at the Bartlett have been damaged or destroyed by storms but many of the notable sized trees remain at the Arboretum including eight Champion trees and one Co-champion. These trees have been preserved through research and conservation efforts from the Bartlett staff.
Due to the incredible appreciation for large trees many national, state, and local agencies have been organized to record the size and locations of large specimens of the different taxa that can be grown in the northeast. Connecticut has a unique advantage over much of New England due to the milder climate many species which are less hardy, and therefore more rare, can be grown here. Connecticut College works closely with the Connecticut Botanical Society and both organizations rely on local groups and citizens to report large specimen trees.
All these organizations use a relatively simple formula to judge the trees; many commonly follow the American Forestry Association (AFA) point method of measuring and comparing trees. The formula is as follows:
AFA Points = Circumference of the trunk at 4.5 feet above the ground height of the tree in feet 1/4 of the average branch spread in feet.
Based on the number of points a tree is assigned that tree is then designated either a notable or champion size tree. A tree is of notable size when it is larger than most other trees of the same species. A tree is determined to be champion size when it is the largest tree, as determined by the AFA points system, of that species.
List of Current Champion and Notable Trees at the Bartlett Arboretum
* This tree is currently a co champion
Scientific Name - Common Name
Acer saccharum "Newtons Sentry" - Newtons Sentry Sugar Maple
Eucommia ulmoides - Hardy Rubber Tree
Liquidambar styraciflua variegata - Variegated Sweet Gum
Pinus koraiensis - Korean Pine
Pterostyrax hispida - Epaulette Tree
Quercus michauxii - Swamp Chestnut Oak
Stewartia pseudocamellia - Japanese Stewartia
Taxus cuspidata - Japanese Yew
Tsuga diversifolia - Northern Japanese Hemlock
Oxydendrum arboreum* - Sourwood
Scientific Name - Common Name
Carpinus betulus - European Hornbeam
Carya illinoensis - Pecan
Cedrus libani - Cedar of Lebanon
Cercidiphyllum japonicum - Katsura Tree
Cercis canadensis - Eastern Redbud
Chamaecyparis pisifera squarrosa - Squarrosa False-Cypress
Fagus sylvatica fastigiata - Dawyck Beech
Juglans ailantifolia cordiformis - Heartnut
Larix kaempferi - Japanese Larch
Quercus palustris - Pin Oak
Quercus variabilis - Chinese Cork Oak
Syringa reticulata - Japanese Tree Lilac
Viburnum sieboldii - Siebold Viburnum
Zelkova serrata- Japanese Zelkova
Information about potentially notable trees in Connecticut can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to:
Notable Trees Committee
Connecticut College Arboretum
270 Mohegan Avenue
New London, CT 06320