BIG Trees

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Big Tree Program Overview

Definition of a tree – A woody plant having one pith line at ground level, with a single set of concentric annual rings that surround that pith line, forming an erect perennial stem (trunk) at least three inches in diameter, at a point 4.5’ above the ground, with a definitely formed crown of foliage, and a mature height of at least 13 feet.

With the above definition in mind, people throughout the country have established programs at the local, state and national levels to document the largest known specimens of tree species within their area.

Locally the non-profit organization, Valley Beautiful, started the Roanoke Valley Big Tree Register in 1983. Between 1983 and 2013, Valley Beautiful measured and documented nearly 200 trees of several species.

In 2014, the Roanoke Tree Stewards took over the Roanoke Valley Big Tree register when Valley Beautiful disbanded. Since 2014, Roanoke Tree Stewards re-certified trees on the register and added new trees.

The big trees of Virginia are recorded in the Virginia Big Tree Database which is maintained by staff at Virginia Tech under the guidance of Dr. Eric Wiseman. To view the trees in Virginia go to

The largest trees in the US are recorded in the National Big Tree Register which is maintained by National Forests, an organization whose mission is to advance the conservation of forests, including urban forests. You can find the trees on the national register here.

Nominations for the Virginia big tree register can be sent to Please include a contact name, contact information, type of tree (if known) and the location of the tree.