Since 1955, dedicated volunteers have cataloged the most immense trees in the region on a list dubbed the Champion Trees of Greater Kansas City. Today, that list includes more than 200 species and varieties and is maintained by Powell Gardens as a resource for professionals and homeowners alike.
The list is valuable because it demonstrates the ultimate size of any tree in our region. It has been maintained for almost 60 years and some trees have remained on the list since its inception. This measurement over time provides valuable information on the growth and longevity of area trees.
Large trees on the list represent species and varieties that withstood the test of time and weather extremes. They are proven well adapted to our region and make good choices for a sustainable landscape.
The champion tree list dates back to 1955 when the late Stanley R. McClane, landscaping superintendent for the J.C. Nichols Company, made the first survey of the largest known examples of well over 100 species and varieties of trees in Jackson, Clay, Wyandotte and Johnson counties. Chuck Brasher, arborist for Country Club Tree Service, renewed McClane’s list in 1974 and maintained and enhanced it until his death in 2012. In 2013 Powell Gardens offered to continue the list and make it a resource for the Greater Kansas City community.
With input from area tree professionals, the enhanced current list includes the champion tree for each species and variety plus “runner up” trees. This will make it easier for people to visit mature examples of some of these wonderful trees in various parts of the metro. The area covered by the list also was expanded to include current city limits beyond the four-county region and all contiguous communities.
About the Trees on the List
The list chronicles the circumference, height and spread of each tree. A tree of each variety makes the champion list if it scores the highest when all of these categories are taken into account.
Trees are measured by circumference in inches; height and spread in feet. The final score is the sum of one point for each inch of circumference (measured at 4 ½ feet up the trunk), plus one point for every foot of height, plus a quarter point for each foot of spread.
Not all trees on the list are gigantic, of course. Some trees are naturally smaller, some do not grow large in our climate and some are new to cultivation in the region. As a whole, the list is an inspiring reminder of the wealth of trees that thrive in our community.
Ways to Use the List
We hope this revised Champion Trees of Greater Kansas City list will be a valuable resource to all communities in the metro. It’s a great way to map out where to go observe the region’s incredible tree diversity. If you want to go see what a potential tree selection will look like when it’s mature, it’s just a few clicks away.
Get the List
Download the list as an Excel file here.
Nominate a Tree
To nominate a tree for measurement use the form below.