Ponca City is home of championship trees.

Sunday, December 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) _ Residents and visitors alike pass by several magnificent old trees in Ponca City everyday and pay them little attention, not realizing their statewide championship status.

Owners of these special trees, however, take great pride in having these record-breaking

specimens in their yards. A few of these trees are also located on corporate or public land.

Ponca City has the unique distinction of having seven registered state champion trees, according to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Forestry Service. When these trees were recognized in a book published by the Forestry Service in 1998 they each were the largest of their species registered in Oklahoma.

Since that time other old trees from Kay County have been submitted and will probably be added to the list in a second book, now in progress.

According to Oklahoma Forestry Service Forest Fire Control Officer Bob McCord, who serves the state as Oklahoma's champion tree list keeper, the seven record breaking Kay County trees have not been replaced by any larger ones in his data base since that date.

McCord is headquartered at the Forestry Service office in Tahlequah.

To determine the size of a tree, the girth of the trunk is measured in inches at four and one-half feet from the ground. That measurement is added to the total height of the tree in feet (measured by a hypsometer) and one-quarter of a complicated measurement of the crown spread. The total of the three figures is used to determine the tree's size. In the course of his work, many of the old trees were spotted by Ponca City nurseryman Richard

Keathly, who reported them to the forestry office.

To enter the trees on state records, Dan Stidham, Service Forester from the Enid Forestry Services office made the official measurements. The winning trees with statistics and numerous pictures are published in ``The Great Trees of Oklahoma,'' which lists the top 100 champion trees in Oklahoma. Some of the trees listed in Oklahoma have even been recognized as the largest trees of their species in the United States.

Stidham said, however, that it is possible that larger trees may exist, but have not been

reported to the Forestry Service.

To enter a tree for the largest tree record of any species in the state, first measure around the trunk at four and one-half feet from the ground and know the species of your tree. With these two requirements, call Stidham at 580-237-4810. He says he can

usually tell if a tree is in the running by the trunk measurement alone. But official points are recorded for a tree using all three measurements.

Trees which grow in this area but do not have an any entry in Oklahoma records include Allegheny and Ozark Chinkapins, American Bladdernut, American Plum, Arborvitae, Autumn Olive, and Bluejack. Oaks include Gambel, Harvard, Shin, Swamp, SwampWhite and Texas Live. Also Bradford Pear, Buttonbush, Carolina Buckthorn, Chickasaw Plum, Choke Cherry, Coastal Plain Willow, Cucumber Tree, Hazel Alder, Indian Cherry, Little Walnut, Mexican Plum, Mountain Silver Bells, Nettle of Hackberry and Pignut Hickory.

Also uncontested are Pinyon Pine, Possumhaw, Rock Cedar, Roughleaf Dogwood, Russian Olive, Rusty Blackhaw, Seaside Alder, Shellbark Hickory, and Slippery Elm. Also Texas, White and Paper Mulberries, Western Walnut, Witch Hazel and Yellow Wood.

According to Stidham, a few other large trees in the Kay County area have been submitted for the record book since 1998 and unless larger trees are submitted before publication of the next book of records, these will also be listed as the largest of their

species in Oklahoma.

These trees include a Hackberry, a Shumard Oak, and a Cottonwood. Other trees in the area registered in second place for a species (sometimes by only by an inch or two) would move to first place in the event of destruction or death of the record holding tree.

For example Oklahoma's largest tree, a giant Bald Cypress located east of Broken Bow and believed to have been there since the birth of Christ, was destroyed by lightening in 1982.