Feb. 1, 2016 — COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Two Mexican blue oaks in Big Bend Ranch State Park were recently confirmed by Texas A&M Forest Service to be the largest of their kind in the state.
Located in a remote canyon in the middle of the park, the trees are on the latest edition of the Texas Big Tree Registry, a listing of the largest specimen of every native or naturalized tree species found in the state.
Known officially as Quercus oblongifolia, Mexican blue oak is rare in Texas. First discovered in the state in 1970’s, the remote canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park is the only place the species is known to occur naturally in Texas. The largest tree in the grove was nominated and crowned the state champion in 1976. Fast forward forty years and the original champion still reigns, but another specimen across the canyon has grown enough to claim co-champ status.
“Big Bend Ranch State Park is proud to partner with Texas A&M Forest Service to conserve and promote the appreciation of our state’s important natural resources,” Sean Dugan, superintendent of Big Bend Ranch State Park, said. “We at the park are excited to be a part of the Big Tree Registry with our two co-champion Mexican blue oaks.”
The purpose of the Big Tree Registry is twofold — to stimulate a greater public appreciation of trees and to recognize owners and nominators of the state’s largest trees. The registry is published quarterly on the Texas A&M Forest Service Big Tree Registry page.
Trees are compared using a tree index, which combines trunk circumference in inches with total height in feet, plus one-quarter of the average crown spread in feet. Trees within five index points are considered co-champions. The original champion has a circumference of 75 inches, a height of 22 feet and a crown spread of 28 feet, giving it a tree index of 104 points. The new co-champ has a circumference of 63 inches, a height of 38 feet and a crown spread of 26 feet, giving it a tree index of 108 points.
Currently, Texas A&M Forest Service recognizes 320 native or naturalized tree species that qualify for the list. Of these, 82 are current national champions or co-champions listed in the 2015 National Register of Big Trees published by the conservation group American Forests. Both of the Mexican blue oaks are nominated as national champs and may gain that title in late 2016.
Photos on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasforestservice/albums/72157664046291621
Sean Dugan, Superintendent, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Sean.firstname.lastname@example.org, 432-358-4444