A large swamp bay tree (Persea palustris) was recently recognized by the Maryland Big Tree Program. The unusual tree was measured in Hickory Point Cypress Swamp at Pocomoke State Forest by Dan Wilson, a volunteer with the Maryland Big Tree Program (MBTP).
The swamp bay is listed on Maryland’s Threatened and Endangered Species List for Worcester County. The tree has a circumference of 17 inches, a height of 27 feet and an average crown spread of 20 feet. Its total point value is 49, making it the first State Champion.
The species more common in North Carolina. The U.S. Champion, with a total of 212 points is located in a swamp in Newport News, Virginia.
The swamp bay is now the 143rd tree species to be added to the Maryland Big Tree Program. The recently found example is among a clump of smaller trees of the same species, so it appears there is a well-established colony to support future growth.
The Big Tree Program originated in Maryland in 1925, went national in 1940, and is run by American Forests, www.americanforests.org. Each state has a State Coordinator who collects data, measures trees, and biannually submits certain trees to American Forests as potential National Champions. For more information, visit dnr.state.md.us/forests/trees/bigtree.asp.
The universal “point” system was developed by Maryland’s first State Forester, Fred Besley. The formula is: circumference in inches + height in feet + one fourth of the average crown spread in feet.
To report what may be a State Big Tree, or for a copy of the State Big Tree List, contact John Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-287-5980.
source: MD DNR