By Joe Jarosz
November 12, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Northeast is now able to claim it is the home of the tallest tree in Missouri.
An Eastern Cottonwood in Kessler Park has been designated the Missouri State Champion. Measuring at 344 inch circumference, it is 125-feet tall with a crown spread of 120 feet and is more than nine feet wide through the middle of the trunk. The tree is not only the largest of its species, but is also believed to be the largest known tree in the state of Missouri. Steve Aduddell of Grandview nominated the tree.
City Forester Kevin LaPointe received the official Champion Tree Award from the Chuck Conner with the Missouri Department of Conservation on Nov. 6, 2014. The tree is located on the Cliff Drive/Kessler Park Disc Golf Course, near the old reservoir and Lookout Point.
“It’s an honor for us,” Lapointe said. “We’re glad it’s in the park system where everybody can come up and enjoy it.”
The new champ topped the state’s former biggest cottonwood that grows in the St. Louis area. Conner said the towering cottonwood is likely more than 70 years old.
According to its website, the Missouri Department of Conservation uses a formula to assess a point value for big trees. Points are determined by a tree’s height, crown spread and trunk size. The formula adds the circumference in inches (measured at a point 4.5 feet above the ground) to the height in feet to one-fourth of the average crown spread. Using this formula, the largest known living tree in Missouri was awarded with a point total of 499 points.
The tree also has the largest circumference in the state at 28 feet 8 inches. The record for height is shared by a pumpkin ash and Shumard oak, both with heights of 150 feet. Both are in eastern Missouri.
Cottonwoods are a very fast growing tree and can attain large sizes in decades. The new state champion is growing without competition from other trees, other than another large cottonwood growing some distance away. Conner said the location in the swale helps with moisture and its roots are likely in good soil. This week’s cover photo was provided by local photographer David Remley.