Say Aloha to a Special Champion Tree

Say Aloha to a Special Champion Tree

Imagine this scene: warm temperatures, a cloudless sky and a hot, shining sun.

Looking up from the sandy beach and salty ocean water you see hills with miles of tall trees bearing a plethora of colorful flowers. One in particular boasts clusters of bright yellow flowers, similar to the sun shining down on you. For those of us in the thick of winter’s woes—including some in snow, sleet and slick conditions—this sounds likes paradise.

The mamani sophora tree, or as the natives refer to it as the māmane, gets to experience paradise all year long, as it is a native to several of the islands of Hawaii. In 2014, this special māmane joined the National Register of Big Trees—a list of 768 champions sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company. (This list is now referred to as the American Forests Champion Trees national register.)

The champion māmane is a 24-foot tall, 25-feet wide giant located on the Big Island. Its species is recognized for its clusters of bright flowers, golden brown branches and oval leaflets. The tree even provides a home and nourishment to the endangered Palila bird, a native honeycreeper.

The māmane tree exists on most of Hawaii’s high islands, which originate from volcanic activity. It can grow at elevations ranging from 1,400 to 10,000 feet and among dry forest areas with low amounts of water and soil nutrients. Māmane trees are also wind firm, meaning they are sturdy and prepared for the islands’ high winds.

Whether you are experiencing a mild winter with plenty of sunshine or trudging through inches of snow, you’ll love to daydream about relaxing on a paradise island, adorning the flowers of the beautiful champion māmane tree from a lei around your neck.

Tell us about your favorite national champion tree in the comments below!

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    Out in the towering, rigid mountains of Texas grow magnificent, distinct trees that are stretching their limbs and shedding their bark. These trees are not wounded like others that may lose their bark from injury or disease; instead, they’re about to reveal new, colorful apricot shades or brassy skin tones underneath the surface. As these unique Texas madrone trees extend tall and wide, they leave their old bark behind to continue a one-of-a-kind growth process.

    The Texas madrone has quite an impressive story to tell; many believe it’s thousands of years old. Scientists are astonished with this tree species because of its ability to hold its own in an ever-changing environment. Some describe the Texas madrone as relict, meaning that even as the surrounding environment transforms over time, this national champion tree continues to stay the same.  The trees’ native home has become drier and warmer than what it once used to but with its relict nature, the madrone has never migrated from its original habitat like other trees such as the longleaf pine or yellow birch.

    Big tree admirers can find the national champion Texas madrone in the Chisos Mountains of Brewster County, Texas. The national champion is recorded at 27 feet tall with a 93-inch trunk circumference. Although most trees appear on the National Register of Big Trees list due to their massive size, the Texas madrone earns such recognition for different reasons.

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    As a breeze picks up in the night air, leaves from every treetop near and far rustle together to render soft, swishing sounds. But nothing sounds quite like the whisper of a plains cottonwood’s glossy, shimmering leaves sighing in the wind, as if waves were crashing along the shore in the distance.

    The plains cottonwood was one of the only trees that assisted early American settlers as they forged across the middle of the country. Historic records document the sizes of these massive trees over so many years that the species is recognized on the National Register of Big Trees.

    The plains cottonwood national champion tree caught the attention of American Forests in 1967 when the species’ largest documented tree at the time measured approximately 11.5 feet in trunk diameter. The tree stood in Hygiene, Colo. While searching for a new champion more recently, however, arborist Mark Lewing found the plains cottonwood he was looking for in Ravalli, Montana.The new champion was added to the National Register of Big Trees—a list of 768 champions sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company.

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