The Champions of Our Forest

A look at the largest trees in South Carolina and an Internet resource for finding and nominating champions.

 The Champions of Our Forest

Have you ever walked through the woods and noticed the monolithic size of some of the trees in our region? If so, you may have been staring at a few of the competitors for the largest trees in the nation. The Champion Trees are those found by researchers, foresters, and recreationists that are not only noteworthy for their size but the largest of their species.

The state of South Carolina is home to eleven national champion trees. One example is this champion Sand Hickory in Greenville.

The Sand Hickory in Greenville County

The hickory is considered to be the largest known of its species with a height of 129 feet and trunk circumference of 132 inches.

Clemson University participates in the tree registry program and keeps a record of state champion trees as well. The Pee Dee region served by the Pee Dee Land Trust is currently home to 10 known state champion trees.


Common Tree Name

Height (feet)





Longleaf Pine


American Beech



American Sycamore





China Fir


Red Buckeye



Swamp Cyrilla (Titi)



Willow Oak



Winged Sumac


Clemson records all of its trees in a database found on its website here:

There you can find the locations of champions, look at pictures of many species of tree, see their sizes, and nominate trees that you know of for champion status. The website also provides resources for measuring trees and a list of trees not currently found on the list. The Pee Dee Land Trust encourages you to pay attention to these large trees in areas you visit and compare them to this website or nominate them as potential champions. Surprisingly, some of the largest trees in our state are not as striking as the Sand Hickory and could be found in your area or even your back yard. If you are interested in learning more about the program at Clemson, contact Vic Shelborne, the Big Tree Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Founded in 1998, the Pee Dee Land Trust works in the nine counties that touch the Great Pee Dee River in South Carolina: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg. Its mission is to protect, and to promote an appreciation of, the significant natural, agricultural, and historical resources of the Pee Dee Region through voluntary land conservation and educational programs. For more information, see

(Photo credit:


Related Articles

Contact Us:


154 W. Evans Street, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 2134, Florence, SC 29503

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Signup for our E-Newsletter

Connect with us

Copyright 2019 Pee Dee Land Trust