Pontotoc crowns newest champion tree

PONTOTOC – How would you like to wear a 102-foot crown? Well, that’s the size of Pontotoc’s newest champion’s crown.
This is the crown of a winged elm that is growing off Five Star Road on Larry McCord’s property. That measurement is one of the three criteria that has landed this tree as a champion tree.
The grand tree was named a state champion recently after the official measurements came from the state forestry division. Found and certified by Stacy Simmons with the forestry service, the tree is 14 feet, 9 inches around and 80 feet tall.
To be named a champion tree, the specimen gets one point for each inch in circumference at 41/2 feet above the ground, one point for each foot in total height to the nearest foot, and one fourth of a point for each foot in average crown spread.
“My little girl goes to the day care center here and I noticed the tree when I brought her,” Simmons said.
The height of the tree tipped him off. An elm tree doesn’t normally get quite that tall in this area, especially around a lot of development. One day his curiosity got the best of him and he measured it and sent the measurements to the state.
The word came down that it is indeed a champion tree, so now it proudly bears a plaque telling all of its status.
The winged elm, or Ulmus alata by its official name, usually grows 40 to 50 feet high, however, it can reach 90 feet in height in the woods with a 30- to 40-foot spread.
Three other trees in Pontotoc County bear the champion name. A Bodock tree growing on Marion Street right in the heart of the city, a cedar growing off Stark Road and a Beech growing in Hurricane.
Simmons said champion trees are rare because, “You can’t put one out, they must grow.”
If you think you have a champion tree in your yard, Simmons said to look at the trunk size of the tree first, “because that is what gives it the most points, then look at height and crown spread.”
To get your tree certified, call the Pontotoc County Forestry District at (662) 489-4016.

REGINA BUTLER / Pontotoc Progress