Maryland's Big Tree Program

Fred Besley
Photo from Maryland DNR

Fred Besley was Maryland’s first forester, serving from 1906 to 1942. He developed the formula used today to measure trees:

Circumference in inches +

Height in feet +

¼ of the average crown spread =


Mr. Besley's Forest

1. Big Tree Champions from Frederick County

1.1. National Champions

The Maryland Big Tree Program has been in place for a number of years.

Frederick County is the proud owner of a co-champion Boxelder (coded BT-3260 in the Big Tree program and AF-6396 with American Forests).

This magnificent National Champion Boxelder is 69 feet high and has a crown spread of 84 feet. It is located on private property.

1.2. State Champions


Credit: Claude Eans & Steve Thrasher Board Members

The Frederick County champion Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) recently measured by members of the Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board (Claude Eans, Steve Thrasher) and recognized by the Maryland Big Tree program of as a 'tri-State Champion'. The Frederick tree is the largest at 122 points, but there are two trees in Montgomery at 119 and 118 points that are considered to "share" the championship. If the Frederick tree had been just a little taller, it would have owned the championship outright.


AVERAGE CROWN WIDTH: 52.5’ x 50.5’ = 51.5’

Eastern Cottonwood

The Eastern Cottonwood, located at Middletown High School. To learn more about this local champion see the Gazette.Net article entitled ' Middletown tree towers over others in Maryland '.

Pecan Tree

Frederick County shares the title of Maryland State Co-Champion pecan tree with Anne Arundel County (trees are considered co-champions if they are within 5 points of each other). The pecan tree shown below is located in Frederick city See the recent article in the Frederick News-Post entitled "Pecan tree ties for biggest in state" for more information about the co-champion pecan tree in Frederick County.


MBTP Volunteer Coordinator John Bennett standing next to Maryland State Champion sycamore in Union Bridge MD.

1.3. County Champions

Bitternut Hickory

Mr. and Mrs. Zittle of Thurmont measure the circumference of the Bitternut Hickory. This tree is the second largest hickory tree in Maryland.

Black Birch

The largest Sweet/Black Birch tree in Frederick County was recently measured and recorded as the second largest within the entire state. Picture and statistics supplied by John Bennett.

Frederick County champion Sweet/Black Birch

NAME: Sweet/Black Birch

LATIN: Betula lenta


HEIGHT: 116’


LOCATION/APPEARANCE/HEALTH OF TREE: near Gate R3 on Epic Loop trail. Tree is very healthy look with no apparent rot or dieback.

Black Oak

Credit: Keith Schoonover, Board Member

Frederick County Big Tree Champion Black Oak belongs to Board Chair Keith Schoonover of Smithsburg.



Black walnut

On October 20, 2016, a Buckeystown black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) was designated a Frederick County Big Tree Champion. The 106' tall tree is shown below. At a total of 276 points, this black walnut tree is #10 in the state and the largest of its kind in Western Region.

Eastern Hemlock

BT 2383 Eastern hemlock

County champion eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), located on private property in the City of Frederick. Big Tree program number 2383

English Elm

The County Champion English Elm pictured below is located on the grounds of Frederick High School. Recorded measurements are: circumference = 17 ft. 10 inches, height = 95 feet, average crown spread= 95 feet.

Credit: Jim Arnold, Board Member

Frederick County Forestry Board member Jim Arnold stands near the base of the National Champion English Elm.


Frederick County Champion and the 4th largest hackberry in the state was found in Jefferson MD.


Frederick County Champion Holly - Jefferson

Northern Red Oak

Credit: Keith Schoonover, Board Member

Frederick County Big Tree Champion Northern Red Oak belongs to Board Chair Keith Schoonover of Smithsburg.



Silver Maple

Frederick County Champion is the Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum).



LOCATION/APPEARANCE/HEALTH OF TREE: This Walkersville tree has multiple leaders; tree has a significant cavity where leader broke off. Crown looks good, tree house in tree.

Sugar Maple

BT 2381 Sugar maple

The owners of this county champion sugar maple (Acer saccharum) estimate it has been growing on their property for over 90 years. Big tree program number 2381.

Swamp White Oak

BT- 2386 Swamp white oak

This Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) replaces the previous county champion. It is located at the far end of River Bend Park, 1775 Monocacy Boulevard in the City of Frederick, behind the soccer fields by the Monocacy River. Photo Dori Murphy

Tulip Poplar

The Frederick County champion tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) with its hollowed trunk is located on private property. Big tree program 2377.


Frederick county champion found in Ballenger Creek Park.

American Elm

 BT-2385 Siberian Elm

Along with holding the title of current county champ, this American elm (Ulmus americana) has the largest crown spread of any American elm in the big tree registry, and is the second largest of its type in Maryland. It is located in Memorial Park in the City of Frederick. Big tree program number 2385.

Weeping willow

BT-2384 Weeping Willow

Weeping willow (Salix babylonica) are a common sight along Carroll Creek in the City of Frederick, but this one, located near the bridge at N. College Street in Baker Park, is the largest, and the county champion. Big tree program number 2384.

White Ash

The Frederick County Champion White Ash located in Myersville. It has a circumference of 17 feet 5 inches, height of 78 feet, and an average crown spread of 79.5 feet.

White Oak

Credit: Adam Fried, Braddock Heights, MD

Frederick County’s champion white oak tree has grown in Braddock Heights for an estimated 350 years. To learn more see the article in the FNP entitled "Casting a broad shadow: Braddock Heights white oak makes state registry". (Photo by Adam Fried)

2. Big Tree Measurements

Six members of the Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board have recently been measuring trees in Frederick County for the Maryland Big Tree registry. Soon qualifying new entrants from our county will be displayed on our Big tree program page. (Photo by Ginny Brace)

On December 8, 2015 six members of the Board continued measuring big trees. Shown above is a Ginkgo tree in the backyard of a Frederick city townhouse that will be nominated as a candidate for consideration as a county big tree. (Photo by Tyson Rose)

Credit: Steve Thrasher, Board Member

Board member Steve Thrasher measures a Horse Chestnut in downtown Frederick.

Credit: Steve Thrasher,, Matthew Witmer, Claude Eans, Board Members

Board members Steve Thrasher (left) and Claude Eans (right) along with Matthew Witmer (Frederick County Government Intern) measure a swamp oak in Walkersville.

Credit: Matthew Witmer, Board Members

Matthew Witmer (Frederick County Government Intern) stand before a large black locust in Thurmont.

3. Board Members Measures 14 Champion Trees

On April 3, 2012 Michelle Donahue of the Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board and other volunteers measured 14 trees that have become Frederick County champion trees. Read the Frederick News-Post article entitled "Fourteen new Big Tree champions in county" (shown below) to learn more details. The article was written by John Bennett of the Big Tree Champions of Maryland.

4. Nominate a tree

Do you know of a very large tree in Frederick County and want to nominate as a local champion? You can get the nomination form from the MD Big Tree website. Submit the completed forms to the Frederick County Board electronically at or you can mail the form to:

Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board

Atten: Big Tree Program

8602 Gambrill Park Road

Frederick, MD 21702

5. National Big Tree Program

John Bennett, Head of the Maryland Big Tree Program, recommends Great Eastern Trees, Past and Present as an extensive article on the Maryland Big Trees by Dr. Colby Rucker back in 2004--just before Dr. Rucker passed away unexpectedly. It is the definitive resource about big trees in Maryland.