Virginia ranks fifth among states having the most big tree specimens, with 57 national champion trees, including 12 new champions, according to the 2016 American Forests Champion Trees national register.

Several Virginia trees were delisted this year, however. According to Associate Professor Eric Wiseman, who coordinates the Virginia Big Tree Program based in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, American Forests tightened its measurement requirements for trees with “atypical trunk development” such as split trunks or multiple stem trunks. As a result, Wiseman said that he and other program volunteers plan to remeasure and resubmit some trees to the national register.

Wiseman explained that the mild climate in Virginia provides optimal growing conditions for many species, helping to keep multiple champions on the register year after year. “We have a very diverse physiography in Virginia, so a lot of species can thrive here. Big tree programs like this can really demonstrate to the public what trees can achieve.”

Read the full press release.