Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture will host a public ceremony on the SFA campus to officially crown the latest addition to the Texas Big Tree Registry.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, March 1, at the SFA Arboretum gazebo, located at 2031 Wilson Drive.
The tree, a chalk maple, was submitted to the Texas A&M Forest Service for consideration by Greg Grant, Smith County extension agent and former horticulturalist for SFA Gardens. The agency manages the statewide Texas Big Tree Registry and is responsible for confirming trees worthy of inclusion on the registry.
“Being home to a state-champion tree is a unique honor, yet it seems fitting for a university with trees in its DNA,” said Dr. Steve Westbrook, interim university president. “I think all Lumberjacks would agree that SFA wouldn’t be the same in any setting other than our beautiful, wooded campus.”
The Texas Big Tree Registry recognizes the largest known tree of each species growing in the state. Currently, there are 274 state champion trees — 75 of which hold the title of national champion for their species.
According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database, chalk maples, although rare, are native to Texas and are a southern variation of the sugar maple.
“The tree itself is not very big, but for the species, it’s impressive,” said John Boyette, district forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service.
SFA’s champion chalk maple measures 28 feet tall with a circumference of 34 inches and a crown spread of 30 feet.