Newly Discovered Chestnut in Hebron, Maine Is Tallest in the State, Possibly the East Coast

View of the trunk and crown of the Hebron, ME tree. Photo by Alan Markert.

A few weeks ago, Maine Chapter board member Alan Markert and his wife Valerie Huebner found themselves peering up at a 95-foot American chestnut, the tallest on record in Maine.

Earlier this year, the tree was nominated for the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) 2012 Big Tree Contest by landowners Ann Siekman and Roger Crockett. Realizing a rare discovery had been made, the OCSWCD alerted the Maine Chapter of TACF about the tree. 

Alan (left) and his wife Valerie were escorted to the 95-ft tree by Jeannie Federico (center) of the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) and Merle Ring (right), a Maine State Forester. Photo by Valerie Huebner.

Reporting back to the chapter, Alan noted that the tree appeared to be healthy and free of blight. “There were several small dead limbs up high,” he said. “But through the binoculars, I detected no sign of blight.” The tree produces a prolific amount of flowers and burs, but the nearest known chestnut is hundreds of yards away, so the tree probably produces no fertile nuts. “The dozen or so burs I examined all seemed to corroborate this, as the nut scars were all quite narrow,” said Alan.

“How it escaped being harvested must be a good story,” said Glen Rea, president of the Maine Chapter. “The surrounding trees indicate that most of the merchantable trees were harvested in the past 30-40 years.”

Landowners Ann and Roger say they are, “honored to be stewards of this majestic tree that survived disease, storms, and time to go down in the record books.”

Alan Markert with the Hebron tree. Photo by Valerie Huebner.

Though the Hebron tree is the tallest American chestnut tree on record in Maine, the current state champion chestnut is the Atkinson tree with a trunk circumference of 111 inches, height of 74 feet, crown of 47 feet, for a total of 197 points (Total points = Trunk Circumference + Height + ¼ average crown spread). The Hebron tree is just 12.5 points shy with a total score of 184.5!

Visit American Forests’ website for information about the National Big Tree Program, which preserves and promotes the biggest trees species in the United States. For more about champion American chestnut trees in the natural range, check out the PDF of the January/February issue of The Journal of The American Chestnut Foundation, pages 12-13.

If you have stories and photos of large American chestnuts, please send them to Mila Kirkland at mila@acf.org.