From the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:
Dan Wilson, a volunteer with the Maryland Big Tree Program, has found the first yellow birch large enough to add to the State record books. Wilson found the large tree in a naturally occurring grove of yellow birch in a remote ravine in Rocks State Park in Harford County.
“Yellow birch was thought to exist in Maryland but this is the first time this tree species has been recorded,” said Wilson. “I have been searching for an example for quite some time and finally found one.”
Wilson discovered a grove of 12 trees growing in the Hidden Valley area of the Rocks State Park, near Deer Creek. There are no trails in the area and the terrain makes it difficult to access. He measured the largest tree at 3 feet 3 inches around, 86 feet tall, with a 36-foot crown spread. The total point value is 134.
Yellow birch, or Betula alleghaniensis, is native to Allegany and Garrett Counties and the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County but is primarily a tree of New England and the upper Midwest. A specimen tree has never been reported for the Maryland database (which dates to 1925), although it is presumed that examples should be living in areas in the above counties.
Yellow birch is an important timber tree in New England and the upper Midwest. These wood lots are prone to insects, disease and other problems, so they need to be closely managed. The best way to identify a yellow birch is by its yellowish-brown, peeling bark. This species generally grows in moist, well-drained soils in upland ravines – exactly the kind of terrain in which Wilson found this grove.
The United States Champion is located in Maine at 343 points.
Since joining the Maryland Big Tree Program in June 2011, Wilson has earned the title of super volunteer. He has discovered eight tree species and 19 State Champions. He lives in Forest Hill and enjoys hiking in State Parks across Maryland, while keeping his eye out for new trees.
The Big Tree Program originated in Maryland in 1925, went national in 1940, and is run by American Forests, americanforests.org. Each state has a State Coordinator who collects data, measures trees, and biannually submits certain trees to American Forests as potential National Champions. For more information, visit www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/trees/bigtree.asp.
The universal “point” system was developed by Maryland’s first State Forester, Fred Besley. The formula is: circumference in inches + height in feet + one fourth of the average crown spread in feet. If you think you have a Maryland Big Tree or for a copy of the Maryland Big Tree List, contact John Bennett at email@example.com or 410-287-5980.