Sunday, March 4, 2012

State Champion Sweet Birch Tree Discovered In Gunpowder Falls State Park

A new Maryland State Champion tree was recently found in Gunpowder Falls State Park. Dan Wilson, a volunteer with the Maryland Big Tree Program, located the massive sweet birch (Betula lenta) hidden deep within the Park.

The tree was found to be 115 feet tall, 10 feet 1 inch around and with a crown spread of 45 feet, equaling a total point value of 247. According to American Forests this is the tallest tree of its species on record. The previous sweet birch State Champion, with a point value of 237, is located in Cecil County.

The United States Champion is located in New Hampshire at 266 points. The Maryland champion appears healthy and could seize the national title in future years. The tree is also the largest of its species ever recorded in Maryland (dating back to 1925). The tree is located at GPS coordinates N39 32 093 W76 29 955.

The sweet birch is native to all of Maryland north and west of I-95, the tree can be found in counties south and east of that area but usually only sporadically and in small groups.

The name sweet birch comes from the sweet wintergreen flavor of its bark and twigs. The tree is also referred to as black birch because of its dark bark.

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