The Louisiana Directory of Champions, managed by the Louisiana Forestry Association, added two new champion trees this year.
Point Coupee Parish is home to the new sugarberry champion tree, dethroning the sugarberry tree in Morehouse Parish that broke onto the champion list in 2016. The new champion sugarberry is 72 feet tall. Its circumference is 18 feet, 8 inches and its average limb spread is 101 feet. The new sugarberry champion is owned by Zel and Al Ewing of Batchelor.
The second new champion is a persimmon tree in Madison Parish. It measures 106 feet in height, has a circumference of 7 feet, 1 inch and a spread of 50 feet. This new champion persimmon tree dethroned co-champions from Allen and Washington parishes.
Three champion trees died in the past year. The American holly champion in East Baton Rouge Parish was reported deceased in October 2016. Two American holly co-champions remain in Beauregard and Ouachita parishes.
The black oak champion tree in Jackson Parish was reported deceased in September 2016. That leaves the category for black oak with no recorded champion at this time.
The chinaberry tree champion in Vernon Parish was reported deceased in March 2016. That leaves the chinaberry category without a state champion.
Also, an error was recorded in the blackjack oak co-champion from Bossier Parish. Its spread is actually 54 feet, not 13 feet as recorded on last year’s list.
The Louisiana Champion Tree Directory is issued each March in Forests & People magazine. Native and naturalized trees are judged on a point system that uses height, circumference and crown spread to determine a champion. Anyone wanting to nominate a champion tree can download a form from the LFA website, laforestry.com. Look under Resources and click on “Champion trees in Louisiana.” A PDF form download button is in the menu on the left.
Nine of the Louisiana champion trees remain on the Champion Tree National Register, but one of the state’s trees has fallen off that list.
The beloved Louisiana champion baldcypress tree was national co-champion. The 96-foot tall, almost 54-foot circumference tree had been on the national register for several years.
“If it hasn’t been measured in 10 years, they drop it,” said LSU AgCenter Extension forester Brian Chandler, who has been chairman for the Louisiana Champion Tree program since 2000. “Now they’re talking about going to a five-year measure.”
Chandler said the August floods washed out the only publicly accessible road to get to the state champion baldcypress on federal land in West Feliciana Parish. After seeking permission from neighboring private land owners, he hopes to measure the baldcypress this spring. Once the new measurements are submitted, the tree could be put on the national register again in 2018.
For more information about the program, contact the LFA office at (318) 443-2558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.