Champion trees are individual trees which are exceptional examples of their species because of their enormous size, great age, rarity or historical significance.
The Tree Register of the British Isles maintains a database of over 190,000 champion trees growing in Britain and also provides the definitive list of the widest and tallest of each species. The Register holds records dating back centuries which means that modern day growth measurements can be compared to those made by early botanists as far back as the 1600s.
The Tree Register was founded in 1988 by Alan Mitchell and Victoria Schilling and its success is thanks to a network of enthusiastic volunteer measurers. The database is an important tool in helping to locate champion trees, protect them, monitor their growth and success in relation to their surroundings, study their wildlife value and historic management and support gene bank work to propagate rare or exceptional specimens.
One of the finest examples of a champion tree is ‘Majesty’ located at Fredville Park, Kent which is one of the largest standard Pedunculate oaks (Quercus robur) in the British Isles. The tree has a fairy tale quality to it having a gnarly trunk which is completely hollow inside. Its girth measures 12.10m.
A further champion is a Grand fir (Abies grandis) which is one of Britain’s tallest trees. The fir grows in the woodland garden of the Ardkinglas Estate on the banks of Loch Fyne in Argyllshire.
The planting of exotic species was commonplace in Victorian horticulture and it is thought the fir was brought to Argyll from North America and planted in around 1875. This specimen has done particularly well and now measures 64.28m which is taller than Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square.
For more information about champion trees please visit www.treeregister.org/