Board looking for county's biggest black walnut tree

June 21, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Forestry Board is sponsoring a contest to find the largest black walnut tree in Washington County, Board Chairman John Clatterbaugh said.

In 1984, the black walnut tree was named the official tree of Washington County, said Clatterbaugh, head of the volunteer board.

He said he hopes the contest will find that the largest black walnut tree in Maryland is in Washington County.

Presently, the largest reported black walnut tree in Maryland is in Anne Arundel County, he said. That tree is more than 21 feet in circumference, 92 feet high and has a crown spread of 102 feet, he said.


The entry deadline for the county contest is Sept. 1. The largest entries will be measured and verified by the Forestry Board, he said.

The winning tree will be registered with the state and the tree's owner will receive a plaque, he said.

"Black walnut grows extremely well in the fertile limestone soils found throughout the Great Hagerstown Valley. We don't know if we will find a black walnut in Washington County to beat the state champion, but we certainly intend to crown our own local champion through this contest," the group says on its Web site,

The black walnut tree is important because its timber can be used for cabinets, gun stocks and other wood products, he said.

The Washington County Forestry Board is trying to increase community interest in trees in Washington County, he said.

Measure tree before you call

If you think you have a champion tree, Washington County Forestry Board Chairman John Clatterbaugh asks that you take three steps before calling him at 301-797-8195:

  • Measure from the base of the tree to a point 41/2 feet above the ground. This is the exact location on the trunk where you should measure circumference, or the distance around the tree's trunk.

    If the tape measure will not reach around the tree, use a string. Use your tape to measure the amount of string it took to reach around the tree.

  • Measure the tree height using a straight stick, such as a yardstick.

  • "For the crown spread, you'll need two measurements to get an average," the board says on its contest nomination form. "Step back and take a look at the tree from a distance. The crown will probably look wider on one side than another. Put a stake in the ground on each side of the tree directly under the tips of the widest spreading branches. Do the same thing on both sides of the narrow point of the crown.

Information about the contest is available at on the Web.

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