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Friday, October 9, 2020

The King of Maine

Today, while exploring old-growth forest in northern Maine, I noticed a large double-trunked eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) from a distance on different land. Its size was deceiving as part of its crown was stunted, but still tall enough to tower well above the surrounding forest as giant emergent trees in the tropics do. I was intrigued enough to hike to it and I’m glad I did (it was just off the road). I’ve visited some of the largest white pine stands in the country, but I’ve certainly never seen anything with such girth. Keep in mind, the photo that I’m posing in only shows half the trunk! I believe this tree very well could be the new Maine champion eastern white pine, which would make it the largest known eastern white pine in the country. A champion tree means that a tree is the largest specimen of its species in a given state. To be considered a state champion tree per the American Forests guidelines, the diameter at breast height, crown circumference, and overall height needs to be measured. I was only able to measure the circumference, which turned out to be 22 feet; that’s nearly 20” greater than the current state champion! What’s so special about this tree is that it’s found in natural habitat high up in north country unlike the current champion that grows near a house and road. This tree has endured extreme conditions and has grown very slow - it’s probably somewhere in the range of 350-400 years old! The next step is to have a professional measure the height and crown circumference. Regardless of whether this tree is in fact the new champion, it's certainly not a bad find in the so called “Pine State.” Stay tuned!