COUNTY — The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) announced it is opening the Oxford County Register of Big Trees search early this year because lots of folks are spending time hiking, fishing and spending time in the great outdoors, so let’s head for the woods and look for some trees! Here is where the Oxford County Register of Big Trees stands at the start of the 2020 season:

Forty-five of the 67 (Eastern Cottonwood has been added) Maine native species in Oxford County have been found. The total points are determined by a licensed forester who measures circumference (in inches) plus height (in feet) plus one quarter of crown spread.

The town of Waterford continues to lead the county with nine champion trees.

The County Champion with the most points overall is still an enormous Silver maple located in Fryeburg with a total of 405.13 points.

The County Champ with the least number of points is a Common Juniper with a total of 12 points. Maine has a Common Juniper in the National Register of Big Trees with a total of 38 points.

There are five sets of co-champions – Bigtooth Aspen, Black Cherry, Red Maple, Shagbark Hickory and American Chestnut (There are three American Chestnuts within 10 points of each other in Oxford County!) One of the Yellow Birch co-champs had to be cut down leaving the one in Paris as County Champion, and a new Shagbark Hickory measuring within 10 points of the champ was found in Center Lovell, making them our new co-champs.

Oxford County has seven State Champions – American Basswood (S.Waterford), American Sycamore (Waterford), Black Oak (Sumner), Eastern Redcedar (Hebron), Silver Maple (Fryeburg), Swamp White Oak (Paris), and White Ash (Waterford); and 1 State Co-Champion – Northern Red Oak (Lovell).

There are presently 13 nominees for State Champion – Trembling Aspen, American Beech, Mountain Paper Birch, Northern White Cedar, Hawthorn, Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Hophornbeam, Scarlet Oak, Eastern White Pine, Pitch Pine, Striped Maple, White Spruce and Staghorn Sumac.

There are still 22 different trees to find! If we go by the information given us in Forest Trees of Maine, Centennial Editon 1908-2008, here are a few clues to help you find some of these elusive trees:

Jack Pine could be found in the area around Upton.

Sweet Birch might be found from Rumford and Newry south along the banks of streams or moist, rich upland soils and on younger trees the bark has a very pronounced flavor of wintergreen.

American Hornbeam might be found from Waterford northeast to Greenwood, Woodstock, Milton and Rumford.

Black Tupelo might be found from Otisfield north and east to Norway, Sumner and Canton. It has also been reported on the South side of Pleasant Mountain in Denmark on flat, open, wet areas. Black Tupelo, though not large, can be as old as 500 years.

Sassafrass might be found in the Waterford, Sweden, Stoneham area.

Many of those yet to find are smaller trees that may be found in wet areas, along streams and ponds. Look for Balsam Poplar, Black Willow, Sweet Birch, Black Ash, Black Tupelo and Nannyberry while you’re out there fishing, and Slippery Elm trees are believed to have disappeared from Maine’s landscape so if you should find one it would be amazing! I have had older folks tell me they were “dosed” with slippery elm as a child for sore throat, which means it used to grow in the Paris area…

There are great photos of all of these trees online to help with identification. Get outdoors and enjoy this great, fun, summer project with your family or start a little competition among friends.

Owners of champion trees receive a certificate and nominators of winning trees receive t-shirts and copies of Forest Trees of Maine, Centennial Edition 1908-2008. The Oxford County Register of Big Trees is sponsored by Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District. For more information, Native Tree List, Entry form or a copy of the 2019 Oxford County Register of Big Trees, please email [email protected]

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