Michigan Big Tree Program

For the past 65 years, the Michigan Botanical Club has maintained a scientific register of the largest trees of each species in the State of Michigan. Paul Thompson began this work and over the course of his 45 year tenure as Big Tree Coordinator, he personally measured and documented over 4000 trees. Paul was a visionary in this field. and our register is one of the oldest in the nation. Upon Paul's passing, Dr. Elwood "Woody" Ehrle became the new coordinator. Woody spent the first two years diligently sorting and organizing Paul's notes and records, and it was under his guidance that the first official register was published. In 2008 Andy Sawyer was appointed the Big Tree Coordinator.

Noah Sawyer next to the State Champion Eastern White Pine - Pinus strobus - Luce County
Noah Sawyer next to the State Champion Eastern White Pine - Pinus strobus - Luce County

The Michigan Big Tree register is important for several reasons. First it is a vital record of a precious natural resource. These trees are typically the oldest of their type, and therefore their genetic material is also the oldest and may p

lay a critical role in species preservation. These trees are also growing at the physiological limit for their species, and if global climate change is occurring these trees will likely be the first to be affected. The register is also important because humans have always enjoyed a close relationship with trees. Many of us had a favorite tree from our childhood, a tree that provided shade, adventure, inspiration, or recreation. Trees have also been central to our history and our faith. Consider the metaphors of the "Tree of Life", "Our Family

 Tree", or "Our Roots", or the role that council trees and trail marker trees have played in our history. The register stands as a record of grand examples of these historically, spiritually, and personally important trees.

The Michigan Big Tree Register currently contains 691 trees representing 87 genera and 301 species.

10 Tallest Trees In Michigan:

1 - 155 ft. Blue Ash in Lenawee county (1983).

2 - 146 ft. American Elm in Wayne county (1990).

3 - 145 ft. Tuliptree/Yellow Poplar in Berrien county (2006).

4 - 143 ft. Eastern White Pine in Luce county (2007).

5 - 139 ft. Shingle Oak in Calhoun county (1991).

6 - 138 ft. Sycamore in Kalamazoo county (2001).

7 - 136 ft. Bur Oak in Lenawee county (1980).

8 - 135 ft. Pumpkin Ash in Wayne county (2001).

9 - 132 ft. Bigtooth Aspen in Marquette county (1984).

10 - 131 ft. White Ash in Leelanau county (2006).

10 Girthiest Trees In Michigan:

1 - 402 in. Black Willow in Grand Traverse county (2009).

2 - 389 in. White Willow in Ingham county (2011).

3 - 362 in. White Willow in Ingham county (2008).

4 - 361 in. Black Willow in Grand Traverse county (2009).

5 - 355 in. Weeping Willow in Van Buren county (2012).

6 - 347 in. Silver Maple in Luce county (2002).

7 - 343 in. Eastern Cottonwood in Wayne county (1992).

8 - 323 in. Black Willow in Washtenaw county (1982).

9 - 321 in. Weeping Willow in Clinton county (2010).

10 - 317 in. Weeping Willow in Eaton county (2012).

10 Highest Scoring Trees In Michigan:

1 - 490 in. Black Willow in Grand Traverse county (2009).

2 - 477 in. Silver Maple in Luce county (2002).

3 - 477 in. White Willow in Ingham county (2011).

4 - 473 in. Eastern Cottonwood in Wayne county (1992).

5 - 451 in. Black Willow in Grand Traverse county (2009).

6 - 450 in. Weeping Willow in Van Buren county (2012).

7 - 448 in. Black Willow in Washtenaw county (1982).

8 - 439 in. White Willow in Ingham county (2008).

9 - 438 in. Northern Red Oak in Van Buren county (2007).

10 - 418 in. Eastern Cottonwood in Ingham county (2012).