Three Big Island Trees Added to National Big Tree Registry

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Five Hawai‘i trees stand among the 64 newly crowned “Big Tree” champions across the nation on the newly announced 2016 American Forests registry.

This now increases Hawai‘i’s Big Tree count to 12 champion trees from Hawai‘i, Molokaʻi, and O‘ahu.

Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve in South Kona. Photo Courtesy

Koki‘o ke‘oke‘o, or white hibiscus tree in Mānoa, Oahu. Photo Courtesy

A Lama tree at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve on Big Island. Photo Courtesy.

Ma‘o hau hele found at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve. Photo Courtesy

Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa Dry Forest. Photo Courtesy


Hawai‘i island holds the record for champion trees, contributing ten of the 12 national champions.

In particular, Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, now holds over half of the national champion trees. With the enthusiastic participation from Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a’s coordinator, Elliott Parsons, three more champion trees were located this year: a Lama, Kāwa‘u, and a Ma‘o hau hele.

Champion trees from other islands were also added to this year’s registry. In the historic Kapuāiwa coconut grove of Moloka‘i, a former co-champion Niu (Coconut Palm) takes the place of a fallen former champion coconut palm.

O‘ahu finally entered and crowned its first ever Big Tree champion: a Koki‘o ke‘oke‘o, or white hibiscus tree in Mānoa.


The Hawai‘i Big Tree program is sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and was created by the nonprofit organization known as American Forests.

The Big Tree program focuses on the largest trees of particular species, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.

Since 1940, the American Forests National Big Tree Program has been able to keep the only national register of more than 705 champion tree species. However, it has only been within the last decade that Hawai‘i was able to contribute to the national register, focusing on native and Polynesian-introduced species.

There are a total of 19 eligible species from Hawai’i that are acknowledged by American Forests. This includes current and former champions as well as tree species that do not have a champion yet. The public is invited to explore and find new champions for all of these species.

Tree nominations are currently being accepted and submissions for the 2017 registry will be due March 1, 2017.


The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following eligible Hawaiian species. Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a National Champion:

Koki‘o ‘ula/Hibiscus clayi
•Nenelau/Rhus sandwicensis
•Lonomea/Sapindus oahuensis
•ʻŌhiʻa ʻai/Syzygium malaccense
•ʻŌhiʻa hā/Syzygium sandwicense
•A‘e/Zanthoxylum oahuense

Here are the current 12 Hawaiian champions:

Hawai‘i island – Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona
(circumference: 110) (height: 20’) (crown spread: 25’)

Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona
(circumference: 343) (height: 115’) (crown spread: 93’)


Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa Dry Forest
(circumference: 186.96) (height: 40’) (crown spread: 43.50’)

O‘ahu – Koki‘o ke‘oke‘o (Hibiscus arnottianus) in Manoa Cliff
(circumference: 34.54) (height: 33’) (crown spread: 27’)

Moloka‘i – Niu (Cocos nucifera) in Kapuāiwa Coconut Beach Park
(circumference: 14) (height: 103’) (crown spread: 20’)

The following 7 champions are all from ‘Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve (Hawai‘i)

Kāwa‘u (Ilex anomala)
(circumference: 9) (height: 24’) (crown spread: 4.17’)

Lama (Diospyros sandwicensis)
(circumference: 36) (height: 18’) (crown spread: 18.25’)

Ma‘o hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei)
(circumference: 14) (height: 8’) (crown spread: 9.5’)

Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis)
(circumference: 204.52) (height: 32’) (crown spread: 42.58’)

Pāpala kēpau (Pisonia brunoniana)
(circumference: 52.46) (height: 28’) (crown spread: 15.25’)

Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla)
(circumference: 165) (height: 24’) (crown spread: 25.5’)

Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana)
(circumference: 85.14) (height: 32’) (crown spread: 25.5’)

To unseat a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points based on the following equation: Total points = trunk circumference (inches) + height (feet) + ¼ average crown spread (feet).

To nominate a tree, contact the Hawai‘i Big Tree coordinator Krista Lizardi at (808) 587-0164 or [email protected] and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread. Also, please provide your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

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