Arkansas Champion Trees

The Arkansas Champion Tree Program is a recognition program for the largest trees of each tree species, right here in Arkansas. If you have a tree you believe is the largest of its species, contact the AFC using the contact form, or call your local AFC office. You may also send a Nomination Form directly to Krista Quinn at PO Box 10, Greenbrier, AR 72058. Send questions to

What is the Arkansas Champion Tree  Program?

Arkansas is a renowned state for its scenic, natural  beauty and abundant forested areas. The trees of this great little state are  pieced together across a varied landscape and offer huge diversity. Champions  are unique from one another in size, width, and even color – as they represent  entirely different species from one tree to the next. It’s important to remember  that not all Arkansas Champions are necessarily tree giants; rather, they are  the largest for that tree species. For example, the Champion Ginkgo Tree is much  smaller in comparison than say the Champion Bald Cypress Tree. They are equally  magnificent, however, in their own unique ways. At this time, there are 123  current State Champion Trees, with several nominations pending.

This program has grown in popularity and recognition thanks to the  shared interest of Arkansas landowners, the work of AFC personnel across the  state, and the work of two special visionaries: Linda Williams Palmer and Peggy  Clark.

Linda Williams Palmer,  Hot Springs Artist and long-time Arkansan,  was so inspired by Arkansas Champion Trees that she created an entire collection  of artwork, featuring large, detailed, colored pencil-drawn images to document  and artistically interpret selected Arkansas Champions. Palmer’s exhibit,“Arkansas Champion Trees:  An Artist’s Journey,” has been selected for numerous juried exhibitions and  collections across the state. Palmer’s work has captured in time the intricate  detail and splendor of each Champion Tree featured, so that even as they age,  their memory does not. An Arkansas Arts Council grant along with donations from  Plum Creek and Domtar enabled the Arkansas Committee of the National Women in  the Arts to make Palmer’s series available to 16 venues across the state from  2012 to 2014. View the drawings at Linda's site, here.

Peggy Clark, Arkansas Forestry Association (AFA)  Board Member, Ross Foundation Trustee, and former Commissioner with the AFC, saw  Linda’s exhibit and was met with a challenge—how could Champion Trees be better  identified as Champions of their species by the public? Peggy forged a  cooperative effort between the Ross Foundation, AFA, AFC, and the U.S. Forest  Service to create hand-crafted, native stone monuments to commemorate and  identify Champion Trees.

Stone  Mason, Jack Culpepper, of Garvan Woodland Gardens, worked with partners to mount  Champion Tree plaques on the stones, identifying the tree species and its  status. Thanks to Ms. Clark’s ingenuity, as well as the wonderful partnerships,  begun by participation and support from the Ross Foundation, many Champion Trees  are now easily visible for visitors and marked handsomely during their  reign.

In  2014, the Arkansas Educational  Television Network (AETN) created a documentary film, “Arkansas  Champion Trees,” about Palmer’s work and exhibitions. The film includes  historical background for the landowner of each featured tree, a forester’s  perspective (told by AFC Forester, Matthew Voskamp) about measuring and  documenting trees, as well as the stone monuments. This film has gained national  attention and has won several awards. See a film  excerpt, at this link. Find a Champion Trees Educator's Guide, at this link.

Furthermore,  the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts produced  classroom materials, with the support of Entergy Arkansas grants in 2013 and  2014, and a 2013 grant from the School of Forest Resources at the University of  Arkansas at Monticello, in order to bring Palmer’s collection to Arkansas  students. Materials include complete lesson plans and posters to accompany  each work of art Materials are free and available online at the Arkansas  Forestry Association website, at this link.

Champion Trees and Their  Measurement

Trees  are measured in three dimensions: the trunk circumference, height, and average  crown spread. Circumference—or diameter if a diameter tape is available—is taken  at breast height, 4½ feet from the ground level. The formula below is provided  by American Forests as the official calculation of a Champion  Tree:

Cii + Hif + ¼ aSif = B.I.

Circumference in inches  (Cii), plus Height in feet (Hif),
plus 1/4 the average spread in feet  (1/4aSif) =
Bigness Index (B.I.)

There is also a national  listing of Tree Champions, identifying the Champion Tree specimen for each  species from the entire United States. Visit:


Who  May Nominate a Champion Tree?

Arkansans from anywhere in the state may  nominate a tree for measurement as a possible new Champion (see nomination forms  at the top of this page, please). Local forestry officials use the Bigness Index  discussed at right to evaluate tree measurements. Should the measurements of a  nominated tree be larger than those of the current state Champion, that tree  becomes a new Champion for that species.

Arkansas Champion Trees

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