Hunt Big Trees

Are you interested in hunting for big trees? Here is some information to get you started. Once you have found a big tree, you can report it to us using our online reporting system.

  • Eligible species. Currently the Virginia Big Tree Register accepts all native, non-native, and naturalized tree species found in domesticated and wildland landscapes of Virginia. Nominations are not limited to species currently listed in the register. If you have questions about species eligibility, please contact us at If you need information about tree species found in Virginia, here are two useful online resources:
  • Digital Atlas of Virginia Flora
  • Virginia Tech Dendrology
  • Ranking of trees. We are transitioning the Virginia Big Tree Register to curate only the three largest specimens of each species found in the register. The trees are ranked using a scoring system that awards points based on the physical dimensions of the tree. We will curate up to six specimens of a species if there is a scoring tie with the third-place specimen. The tie-breaking rule is:
  • Trees scoring 100 or more points will be ranked equally if their score differs by 3% or less
  • Trees scoring less than 100 points will be ranked equally if their score differs by 3 points or less
  • Minimum tree size. For a tree to be eligible for the Virginia Big Tree Register, it must be at least 13’ tall and have a trunk circumference of at least 9.5” measured at 4.5’ above ground line. For more information about tree measurements, visit our page on How to Measure a Big Tree.

  • Field equipment. Here is a list of items you should take to the field with you when hunting big trees. If you do not have these items, we can arrange for you to borrow them at a local extension office. Please contact us at
  • Tree identification guide
  • Measuring tape (100’ reel tape demarcated in feet and inches recommended)
  • Yard stick (for estimating tree height using the “stick trick”). Note: measurement will have to be verified by our program with a clinometer or laser hypsometer.
  • Map and/or GPS unit
  • Camera
  • Data collection form
  • Species without champs. Below is a spreadsheet showing numerous tree species for which we have fewer than 3 specimens in the Virginia Big Tree Register. If you find a tree belonging to one of these species and it meets the minimum tree size requirements, then you have discovered a big tree that you can nominate.