After a lengthy search, a girthy chestnut oak in Battery Kemble Park was named the District’s biggest tree. The tree’s multi-stem trunk boasts a circumference of 24 feet, 3 inches and has been around since before the Civil War.
The tree was crowned king as part of a month-long competition hosted by Casey Trees. The organization has inventoried over 20,000 trees since its founding, but couldn’t possibly survey them all. This summer, they enlisted the public in a citizen science project to determine D.C.’s biggest tree.
Residents fanned out across the city with measuring tapes to conduct this noble research. Once the widest trees were determined, Casey Trees used a hypsometer/rangefinder to estimate the height and spread of the winners and ranked them on a point system. The great chestnut oak came out on top, followed closely by a Willow Oak at the National Arboretum.
Measuring D.C. trees to see how they compare. (Andrzej Rostek/Getty Images)
It is no surprise that the chestnut oak took home the crown. Ten years ago, the same tree was dubbed a “champion tree” by the American Forests Association, which means that at 105 feet, it was (and still is) the largest tree of its species in the U.S.
Casey Trees published the other five largest tree submissions earlier this month, but they admit that this contest is in no way conclusive and that there are probably larger specimens in the District. So keep your eyes peeled.