Tree Information

Common Name: Virginia round-leaf birch

Scientific Name: Betula uber

Native/Naturalized: Native to Virginia

Database ID: 34

Status: alive

National Champion: no

Virginia Champion: yes

Circumference: 38 in.

Height: 59 ft.

Crown: 28 ft.

Points: 104

Date Last Measured: 2023

Last Measured by: Alex Adams, John Peterson

Date First Measured: 1976

Virginia round-leaf birch was the first tree species ever given protection under the Endangered Species Act. The species was first described in 1918, and considered a sub-species of Betula lenta, but was soon elevated to species level. Efforts to relocate the species in the wild were unsuccessful in the ensuing years, leading the Smithsonian Institute and U.S. Department of Interior to declare the species as ""probably extinct"" in the early 1970s. Botanist Douglas W. Ogle rediscovered the species in August 1975 growing along Cressy Creek. Good references about the species can be found below:

The specimen documented here was declared state champion in 1976 and national champion in 1978. It was dethroned as national champion in 2020 due to lack of photographic evidence for the tree's size.

The original nomination of Tammy L. Rouse of Chilhowie, Virginia reported measurements of 48" trunk girth, 49' height, and 17' crown spread. Paul A. Shrauder with the U.S. Forest Service provided updated measurements in May 1979 of 28" trunk girth, 49' height, and 15' crown spread. The source of error for the 1976 trunk measurement is unclear. There is documentation of only one other set of measurements between 1979-2013, which is listed without a date and notes a score of 109 points recorded by W.O. Wells with the Holston Horticulture FFA. There is no concrete evidence that the measurements of 2013 are the original 1976 tree. The hand-drawn map submitted in 1976 shows the tree located between Cressy Creek and Route 601. However the GPS coordinates provided for the 2013 measurements show a location on the opposite site of the creek and slightly northwest of 1976 location.

Information from Tom Blevins (US Forest Service personnel) in 2021: In 1985-86 a total of 20 plantations were created, each with 96 planted trees. Some of these have grown really well and are getting up in the 8-10” DBH range. All of the planted trees came from seeds collected from what I understand to be a single natural tree. Many of the trees in the plantations have the appearance of the common black birch.

2023 comments about tree recertification: Tree was visited in October 2023. It is unclear whether this is the original tree nominated in 1976 due to poor documentation of tree location and size. Also poor photo documentation. Seems unlikely that this is the original tree given the relatively rapid growth rate and short lifespan of the species. This tree appears healthy and sound. It will be protected by the Forest Service for years to come.

2013 comments about tree recertification: Previously measured in 2013 by Jay Martin at 35", 54', 31', 97 points.

Alex Adams October 2023

Location of Tree

Tree is located in: Smyth

State Map

Land Owner: U.S. Forest Service

GPS Coordinates: 36.767308, -81.397027

Directions: Sugar Grove, Jefferson National Forest. Roundleaf birch viewing area. It is the only large round-leaf birch found within the enclosure. The enclosure is across the road from the Volunteer Trail Camp at the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. Once inside, the tree is in the corner on your right closest to the creek. Permission from US Forest Service is required to access the locked enclosure. Personnel at the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area Work Center (Konnarock) can arrange access.

Contact Information

Contact Name: Eric Wiseman

Contact Email:

Contact Phone: 540-231-5148

Contact Info: Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area Work Center (Konnarock) can arrange access. 655 Flat Ridge Rd, Sugar Grove, VA 24375. (276) 677-3562.


Original Nominator(s): Tammy L. Rouse

Other Nominators: Paul A. Shrauder

Additional Information

I.D. Fact Sheet

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