Champion Trees of the Past

The Jewell Bigleaf Maple

The Jewell Bigleaf MapleThe Bigleaf Maple located just outside Jewell, Oregon was, in its time, the largest known
member of the Aceraceae, a family that includes all Maples, Ashes, and Box Elders, and is native to all continents except Australia and Antarctica.  It suffered a massive structural failure in mid-March, 2011, ending its estimated 200 year life.

In addition to being an amazingly beautiful specimen and 30-plus year veteran of the National Registry of Big Trees, the tree holds special significance for Ascending the Giants.  Shortly after the land the tree sits on changed hands, ATG visited the tree and was able to introduce the new landowner to the tree as a national champion, not just a 'big tree in a bog'.  

This meeting proved crucial as a road that was planned to be put where the tree sat was rerouted to avoid damage to the venerable tree.   This
was an important early success for all of us at ATG, driving home the

importance of early contact with new landowners and frequent follow-up.  Although we are

saddened to see one of our favorite trees succumb to gravity, we are still heartened that this tree was able to live out its natural lifespan, unaltered by humans, on a timber plantation in the heart of Oregon coast logging country.

See our 2007 report about this tree


The God's Valley Spruce


This giant Sitka spruce was found near the banks of the North Nehalem River, Clatsop County, Oregon, and measured 30 feet 11 and a half inches in diameter at 2 feet from the ground and 20 feet 4 and a half inches at 6 feet from the ground.


On The Trail Of The World's Largest Spruce(PDF)

O'Brian, Brian. "On The Trail Of The World's Largest Spruce."
Forest World. (1988): 22-26.

Photographed in 1903, The God's Valley Spruce was the largest measured and may of been the largest spruce, ever.



The Mineral Tree, Douglas-fir


Coast Douglas-fir has attained the height of 393 ft (120 m). That was the estimated height of the tallest conifer ever well-documented. Taller than the redwwods, the Mineral Tree was measured in 1924 by Dr. Richard E. McArdle, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service. The volume of this tree was 515 cubic metres (18,190 cu ft).

Forest Giants of the World Past and Present by Al Carder 1995, pg. 3-4 

The big fir at Mineral was 15.4 feet in average diameter at Breast height as measured by Richard E McArdle in 1924. A section of this giant tree still resides at the Wind River Arboretum.

Jimmy. "Mineral Big Tree." 12 Feb. 2008
Garden Web. <>


iant Eucalyptus, "El-Grande"

The Herald Sun reports:
Standing at 79m [259 feet], the massive Eucalyptus regans - known as El Grande - stood unharmed by man for almost four centuries until the Forestry Tasmania burn-off went out of control. ..."This is the last chapter of a very sad story of mismanagement of our forests by Forestry Tasmania," Wilderness Society Tasmania campaign coordinator Geoff Law said. "Forestry Tasmania admitted killing the tree with a forestry burn in 2003. They would have cut it down in 2002 except the Wilderness Society blew the whistle on them. "It could have been an icon to the planet, but instead it has disappeared through incompetence."

El Grande, although not the tallest tree in Australia, was the largest in terms of volume. According to (managed by the Giant Trees Consultative Committee), El Grande had volume of 439 cubic metres and a diameter of 595 cm (234 inches). I assume its approximate girth was an awesome 18.7 metres (61 feet)! Alas, this champion Eucalyptus regnans, estimated to be 350 years old, is sadly no more.

Following the fatal burning, an inspection of El Grande was undertaken in April 2003 by the Wilderness Society. Some of the observations are quite amazing:

The lower butt of the tree had been exposed for approximately ½ - 1 metre by a bulldozer or a similar machine. Some roots had been exposed and damaged.

The fire had burnt to the tree and then had been drawing into the ground-level openings.

The dry rot and wood inside the trunk had ignited and the configuration of draught holes at the base with outlet holes further up had acted like a furnace and chimney. The temperatures generated within the tree core mush [sic] have been extremely high, virtually "cooking" the tree from the inside-out! The external furnacing had extended to 60-65 metres where the flames appear to have exited from some hollow branches of this level. N.B. The charring is visible!

Ash. "El Grande, Aulstralia's largest tree, toppled." Archive. 8 March 2007.
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Council Madrona

Ettersburg, CA - A legendary peacemaker, the "Council Madrona," the world's largest Coast madrone tree, was brought to the ground by the forces of nature. An unusual weather phenomenon created extreme winds that split the trunk of the aged tree. The venerable tree's health had been in decline since the 1980's.

The Council Madrona was a fragile object of scientific and historical significance. Discovered in 1902 by botanist Willis Linn Jepson, the Council Madroña was estimated at 500 years old. In the mid-1980s the American Forestry Association listed it in the National Register of Big Trees. At a height of 96 feet and spreading 113 feet across, it was the largest specimen of Coastal madrone found anywhere in the world.

This majestic specimen and its surrounding pasturelands were acquired by Save the Redwoods League on March 20, 1975. The tree was gifted to the California Department of Parks and Recreation who vowed to protect it in perpetuity. Ranger John  Jennings of California State Parks remarked, "we will continue to protect the site and allow the stately giant to lie in state and gradually decay back into the soil. This will complete the circle of life for the tree and provide a nursery for other forms of life and the expected root sprouts of the mother tree."

Anderton, Katherine and Harris, Marti L. "
A Tribute to the Council Madrona."
The Council Marone Blow Down. 2 March 2000.

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