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Door County’s Record Trees

It’s the 7th of May as I write this, a nice rain is coming down, thunder sounds off in the distance and the woods are finally greening up at our place. Even though most of the green is from Wild Leeks, it won’t be long before wildflower leaves will add to the welcome color scheme. The Hepaticas have been in bloom for about a week but their last year’s leaves hug the ground as though it’s still too wintery for them to lift upward. Their new foliage won’t appear until most of the flowering is completed.

The champion Basswood tree grows near the Green Bay shore in southern Door County.

Trees are on my mind today as I eagerly prepare for their leaves to appear so we can begin measuring some of the new big ones, usually discovered while driving through the countryside or going into town. Even though I’ve been learning about trees for the past 50 or more years, I still prefer to wait for a good showing of their leaves before I accurately identify and measure them for possible record status. One must keep in mind that all species don’t get really large like the Eastern Cottonwood or the willows, and seeing the leaves is always a great help.

To date, the single largest tree we’ve measured is the gigantic Eastern Cottonwood along Highway 57 in Institute. Its circumference, measured at 4 ½ feet above the ground, is 267 inches (22 ft. 3 in.) while its height is 114 feet. At the other end of the scale, the smallest record tree measured in the county is the Balsam Fir whose circumference is 42 inches and its height is 69 feet.

This huge White Ash, also near the Green Bay shore, is the second largest in Wisconsin. Darlene Harman is standing next to her tree.

One of the bigger trees we will measure this spring is, what I refer to as, a Golden Weeping Willow in the City of Sturgeon Bay. At this point we’ve only measured its circumference, at 145 in., and its height, at 109 feet. While its circumference may not be the biggest of this species in Door County, its height is very good and its average crown spread of about 100 feet is very large. It’s in early spring that these trees’ gorgeous, long, hanging golden twigs stand out so vividly, even from a distance.

Bear in mind that one Cottonwood may be taller than another Cottonwood but may not be the county champ because its height is considerably shorter than the record holder. Here is the standard formula for determining the record points for a tree. Three measurements for each tree are added together: the circumference to the nearest inch measured at 4 ½ feet above the ground, the height to the nearest foot, and one-fourth the average crown spread to the nearest foot. The conditions under which a tree is growing may add challenges to the measuring team, for example: if the tree is growing on a steep slope or on level ground. Determining the two crown widths in order to come up with an average crown width can also be tricky.

This large Box elder stands along Main Street in Fish Creek.

The sponsoring group of our Door County Record Tree project is the Friends of Toft Point, Inc. whose president (and also one of the tree measurers) is Nick Anderson. This is a nonprofit group, and those serving on the board, the many volunteer docents, etc., and all of us tree measurers are donating our time and expenses. The ultimate goal is to have a booklet published listing the record trees, their locations and owners, for use by interested individuals, schools, etc. A listing such as this usually includes five to 10 of the biggest specimens of some of the more common trees.

The champion Red Oak is in the St. John the Baptist Cemetery south of Egg Harbor.

Listed below are 30 of our county’s more easily located and identified tree species, including the circumference of each tree to the nearest inch, measured at 4 ½ feet above the ground, and the height of the tree measured to the nearest foot. Nearly all who are interested in helping will be able to accurately measure only the circumference of a tree. If you wish to estimate the tree’s height, that’s fine but it’s not necessary at this point. The circumference is the most important beginning measurement. Even though the tree you measure may be slightly smaller than the one listed, report it anyway. Be sure to make record of the exact location of the trees, such as street address, possibly the tree owner, etc.

If you know of any Door County trees of unusual height and girth, contact me at 920.823.2478 or [email protected].

Door County’s Big Trees

Ash, White: Circumference – 171in., Height – 97 ft.

Aspen, Large-tooth: C – 78 in., H – 78 ft.

Basswood: C – 216 in., H – 62 ft.

Beech, American: C – 99 in., H – 89 ft.

Birch, Paper: C – 99 in., H – 80 ft.

Box Elder: C – 153 in., H – 50 ft.

Cedar, White: C – 126 in., H – 50 ft.

Cherry, Black: C – 89 in., H – 75 ft.

Cottonwood, Eastern: C – 267 in., H – 114 ft.

Elm, American: C – 180 in., H – 78 ft.

Fir, Balsam: C – 48 in., H – 69 ft.

Hemlock, Eastern: C – 96 in., H – 86 ft.

Horsechestnut: C – 180 in., H – 62 ft.

Ironwood: C – 86 in., H – 51 ft.

Locust, Black: C – 110 in., H – 67 ft.

Maple, Red: C – 156 in., H – 89 ft.

Maple, Silver: C – 213 in., H – 72 ft.

Maple, Sugar: C – 200 in., H – 86 ft.

Mountain Ash: C – 69 in., H – 43 ft.

Mulberry, Red: C – 120 in., H – 36 ft.

Oak, Red: C – 146 in., H – 58 ft.

Oak, White: C – 149 in., H – 86 ft.

Pine, White: C – 126 in., H – 93 ft.

Pine, Scots : C – 153 in., H – 43 ft.

Poplar, Balsam: C – 125 in., H – 104 ft.

Poplar, White: C – 138 in., H – 100 ft.

Spruce, White: C – 96 in., H – 78 ft.

Walnut, Black: C – 164 in., H – 86 ft.

Willow, Peachleaf: C – 207 in., H – 64 ft.

Willow, Weeping: C – 145 in., H – 109 ft.