Q: When I was a boy, a picture was made of four of my family standing inside a crevice of a poplar tree on our property. It was big then but 57 years later, it is bigger still. What is the largest poplar tree in Georgia? How can I measure mine to see if it is the biggest?
A: Tulip poplars can grow to tremendous size. They are frequently nominated for “Champion Tree” status in the state. The state champion is 150 feet tall!
Trees become “champions” by having the highest total score after three separate and different measurements are taken.
To find out if yours is tops, add together the tree’s circumference at four feet (in inches), its height (in feet) and one-fourth of its crown spread (in feet). For example, a 50 foot tall tree whose trunk is 40 inches in circumference and has a spread diameter of 44 feet would have a score of 101.
It is easy to measure the trunk circumference and spread of a tree – determining the height is the tough part. One way to estimate height is to watch the shadow of a twelve inch tall stick. When the stick’s shadow is twelve inches long, try to measure the length of your tree’s shadow. The result is the approximate height of the tree.
By the way, the Georgia champion tulip poplar tree scored 378 points. You can get more information about tree champions by calling 800- GA-TREES (1-800-428-7337).