On January 11, 2020, at 1:00 p.m., owners and nominators of area big trees were honored at a reception at Rum Village Nature Center. This program first began in 1996 with 33 champions honored. This year, the number increased to 40 champions.
A total of 52 nominations were received for the 2020 Big Trees competition. Nominators sent in measurements of each tree including the trunk circumference, height, and average crown spread of the trees.
Tree measurements were verified by the naturalist staff at Rum Village, Potato Creek State Park, the St. Joseph County Parks, and the St. Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The University of Notre Dame had the largest number of champions with 22 winning trees. The remaining champions are found on private property, with the exception of the winning Paw Paw tree, which is located in Potato Creek State Park and the winning Hackberry tree, which is located in Memorial Park in New Carlisle.
A complete list of the current champions can be obtained by calling the St. Joseph County Parks at 574/654-3155 or by logging onto the park website at www.sjcparks.org.
The most contested species was Sassafras, with four nominated trees competing for the champion spot. On the other hand, some native species did not receive any nominations at all, including Black Walnut, Red Oak and Sugar Maple.
Nominations will be accepted again for the Big Trees program in 2024.
The Big Trees of St. Joseph County was organized by St. Joseph County Parks in a cooperative effort with the St. Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District, Rum Village Park, St. Joseph County Cooperative Extension Service and The University of Notre Dame’s Department of Biological Sciences.