Charlottesville may have a record breaking tree

Yesterday I got an unusual opportunity when Devin Floyd, with the Blue Ridge Discovery Center, led me on a small hike to a very large tree.

We started out in Kemper Park and walked a very short distance up the Secluded Farm trail, noticing some of the marked trees along the way. One of these is a small Black Haw Viburnum (viburnum prunifolium), a tree I’d never given any thought to before. My own ability to i.d. trees is pretty limited–I can show you tulip poplars, cedars and "some kind of oak"–but Devin is a pro at this.

So it’s not surprising that he and some of his companions were the ones to spot an unusually large Black Haw, a few weeks ago, a bit further down this trail. It’s hidden in plain sight, looking like an old apple tree. Devin describes how the find occurred in his blog post here (and do follow the subsequent posts as folks chimed in to help him identify the tree).


The big Black Haw, with Devin and daughter Eva for scale.

He’s waiting to have the Black Haw i.d. officially confirmed, and has submitted the tree’s measurements to several organizations to see if it may set a state or even national record for its species! What’s interesting to me is that, as trees go in general, this is not a giant. (Its height is about 33 feet, and circumference 76 inches.) But for its kind, it’s enormous. It’s tough to say how old it is, but Devin speculates that rich soil in this spot may have helped this tree achieve its size.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could claim a national champion tree right here in Charlottesville? Keep an eye on the BRDC blog, and this blog too, to see how it turns out. The Black Haw makes tiny edible fruit, and I think it would be really fun to make some National Champion Black Haw jam next fall.


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