States are proud of their largest trees. Delaware has 3 contenders.
Huge trees embody a certain majesty. White oaks are among the most majestic whether they are leafed out or bare.
New Jersey lost a famous and symbolic white oak tree last week during a storm in Salem, just across the Delaware River from Delaware City. Salem itself was a substantial colonial-era trading center.
The 103-foot tall Salem Oak stood in the Friends Burial Ground, spreading 104 feet over the headstones at 112 West Broadway until Thursday. The Quakers have held the property since 1676, and the tree itself has been estimated to be older than 500 years.
At 22 ft., 4 in. around, it has long been a south Jersey landmark. In fact, the diner across the street is the Salem Oak Diner.
See more about the famed tree at https://visitsalemcountynj.com/the-salem-oak
In 2002 the Wye Oak collapsed in a severe thunderstorm. At the time it was probably the most famous white oak in the country, measured 31 feet 8 inches in circumference, 96 feet tall and had an average crown spread of 119 feet. According to the state, at the time it was the largest white oak in America and 460 years old.
When it lost a limb in the 1980s, the fallen branch weighed in at 35 tons.
Maryland’s champion now is at Brick Meeting House in Cecil County. It is called the Penn’s Woods Tree. This tree is 100 feet north of the Quaker meeting house and was last measured in 2018.
Circumference is 23 feet, 3 inches, spread 134 feet and it is 93 feet tall. It can be found by geocachers at N39.701043 W75.983235.
The champion is at the London Grove Friends Meeting, in rural London Grove just north of the Delaware state line. Called the Penn Charter Tree, it was last measured in 2018. Its circumference is 22 feet 2 inches, while it is 82.5 feet tall with a spread of 117 feet.
Delaware’s largest white oak, 90 feet tall, is in Wilmington at 1217 Wilson Road, spreading 116 feet. The trunk is 20 ft., 2 in. around.
It is closely followed Dover’s white oak on Route 8. That one is 83 feet tall with a 115-foot crown and a circumference of 18 ft., 2 inches. See a profile of the oak at https://www.doverpost.com/article/20160224/NEWS/160229928.
The tree was slightly damaged in a 2018 storm.
A third contender is in Brandywine Creek State Park, the tallest at 103 feet but spreading only 108 feet and just 16 ft. 8 in. around.
Champion trees are graded on a point system, so the tallest is not always the points leader. As top scoring trees die, each moves up in the rankings.
Download Delaware's guide to its big trees (PDF) at https://delawaretrees.com/bigtrees_delaware_5th_edition.pdf.