Post-Storm Thoughts: Big Nebraska Trees

On Friday, June 27, 2008, at about 5:00 pm, a big, nasty scary storm blew through Omaha, complete with 90 mph winds and big ass hail. It was scary, to say the least, but the scariest part has been the sight of large felled branches, trunks, and entire trees lying cracked, prone and uprooted all over town. It took about ten minutes for this storm to blow through and take out trees that had stood collectively for thousands of years. It’s been just over 2 weeks and I’m still amazed at the size of the logs and broken trunks I keep finding as I drive to different parts of the city.

So that got me to thinking. I’ve seen some of the biggest trees in the United States, but what about the biggest trees right here where I live in Omaha? And in the State of Nebraska for that matter? How did they fare during the storm? And how does one go about measuring the girth or height or overall largeness of a tree anyway? Here’s what I found out:

As part of the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska Forest Service keeps track of big trees throughout the state on its Nebraska Champion Tree Register. Big trees are categorized by four different criteria; circumference, height, spread and overall “points.” The Champion Tree Program’s Nomination Guidelines define these critera and include instructions for measuring trees on one’s own.

The biggest tree in Nebraska in terms of circumference and overall points was, until the summer of 2007, this National Champion eastern cottonwood near Seward, NE.

Native Nebraska Tree
National Champion Tree
Scientific Name: Populus deltoides
Circumference: 36.75 ft
Height: 85 ft
Spread: 107 ft
Points: 553
Date Measured : 1/1/2001
Date Nominated : 1/1/2001
Location: 2 mi S and 2.75 mi E of Seward on Fletcher Rd.

This tree was struck by lightning and felled in two. The tree could not be saved.

Currently, the biggest tree in Nebraska by circumference, spread, and overall points is this silver maple located in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Native Nebraska Tree
Scientific Name
: Acer saccharinum
Circumference: 22.50 ft
Height: 100 ft
Spread: 118 ft
Points: 400
Date Measured : 1/1/2002
Date Nominated : 1/1/2002
Location: Chautauqua Park (North of Grable), Beatrice

The tallest tree in Nebraska is this white poplar in Fremont, Nebraska.

Scientific Name: Populus alba
Circumference: 16.42 ft
Height: 115 ft
Spread: 89 ft
Points: 334
Date Measured : 1/1/2002
Date Nominated : 1/1/1981
Location: 423 West 11th St, Fremont

In Omaha, the largest tree in terms of circumference and overall points was this huge northern catalpa.

Scientific Name: Catalpa speciosa
Circumference: 20.00 ft
Height: 65 ft
Spread: 60 ft
Points: 320
Date Measured : 1/1/2000
Date Nominated : 1/1/1995
Location: 4508 Burdette St, Omaha

Omaha’s tallest tree, the tree with the largest spread and the biggest tree in terms of overall points is this pin oak.

Scientific Name: Quercus palustris
Circumference: 15.17 ft
Height: 80 ft
Spread: 85 ft
Points: 283
Date Measured : 1/1/2002
Date Nominated : 1/1/2002
Location: 5647 Florence Blvd., Omaha

If anyone has any info on these trees, or any other big trees in Omaha or Nebraska, please feel free to comment or drop me a line! Thanks.

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3 Responses to “Post-Storm Thoughts: Big Nebraska Trees”

  1. Spicejet Booking Says:

    everything seems silent…so quiet…you cant imagine

  2. Chip Murrow Says:

    I am the person on the Nebraska Forest Service staff that works on the Champion Tree program. I am currently trying to get records caught up since the program was put on hold for about 2 years. I am looking at trees that were sent in from all across Nebraska. I recently did a three day trip to measure some of the tree nominations sent in and you can see the photos of these trees on my facebook page under the photo album Large Trees.

  3. sophosmoros Says:

    Thanks Chip! Keep up the good work. I think this sort of thing is invaluable to our cultural identity.


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