KC Metro Champion Trees

swamp chestnut oak, Loose Park

The list of Greater Kansas City Champion Trees dates back to 1955 when the late Stanley R. McClane, landscaping superintendent for the J.C. Nichols Company, completed the first survey. From 1974 – 2012, Chuck Brasher, arborist for Country Club Tree Service, maintained and updated the list. Since his death in 2012, Powell Gardens has maintained the list. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers and funding from Missouri Department of Conservation, Heartland Tree Alliance is on a mission to remeasure and locate these champions found on public property. We hope this will encourage people to visit and enjoy these trees, as well as to value and preserve them.

Champion trees are chosen by their trunk circumferences, height and canopy size. While only one champion tree per species is identified, we will also keep a list of “honorable mention” trees. Our list will only include trees viewable by the public (not on private property if not visible from the street).

Find Champion Trees

Click the map to interact with the map

Nominate a Tree

We need your help to locate, record and preserve these important trees in Kansas City! Anyone is welcome to nominate a champion tree. Nominations will be verified by a Heartland Tree Alliance arborist or volunteer. Nominations are evaluated using the calculation established by American Forests National Register of Champion Trees: Circumference + Height + (Crown Spread/4) = Total Points. The tree must be located within Jackson, Clay, Platte, Wyandotte, Johnson, or Northwest Cass county.

How to Measure

To assign a point value to a tree to determine if it is a “champion tree”, three measurements are required: circumference, height and crown spread. At minimum, we require that you measure and submit the circumference. We will visit the tree to verify measurements and collect missing data.

  1. Circumference is the distance around the trunk of the tree in inches. It is measured at 4½ feet above the ground. If the tree is on a slope, measure on the uphill side and on the downhill side, then average the two numbers. If the tree splits below 4½ feet, the largest stem is measured at 4½ feet. If a tree forks at or slightly above 4½ feet, the circumference is measured below the fork where the circumference is the least.
  2. Height is measured, or estimated, in feet, from the base of the trunk to the highest branch. Laser range finders or clinometers are usually used for this. It can be estimated with a log scale stick, regular yard stick or with a free app on your phone.
  3. Crown spread is the distance, in feet, from the end of the branches on one side of the tree, through the trunk, to the ends of the branches on the opposite side. A second measurement is made at a right angle to the first measurement and the two measurements are averaged.

For more instruction, watch this video “What is a Champion Tree?” that our friend Brad created for MU Extension master gardeners.

Other sites and lists of interest:

Missouri State Champion Trees by Missouri Department of Conservation

Champion Trees of Kansas by Kansas Forest Service

National Register of Champion Trees by American Forests

Linda Hall Library Arboretum