District Tree Named Florida Champion

Ace the tree.

It towers more than 10 stories and its canopy shades various species deep in the Green Swamp in Polk County.

Ace the tree.

“Cattle once roamed around him,“ said Paul Elliott, senior land management specialist. “Seminole Indians once camped beside him. Ace has seen a lot.“

District officials aren’t exactly sure the age of “Ace,“ a red maple tree, but they know it’s a Florida Champion. Ace, short for its scientific name Acer rubrum, was recently designated a Florida Champion Tree by the Florida Forest Service.

The Champion Tree Program was created by the American Forests organization in 1940 to recognize the largest known tree of each species in the United States. Florida began keeping its own state register in 1975 to recognize the largest tree of each species within the state. It now contains hundreds of trees, including the national champions.

Ace has a height of 103 feet, circumference of 166 inches and crown spread around 76 feet. These three measurements are used to award a point total to trees in the register. Ace’s measurements earned enough points to edge out the previous red maple Florida Champion, a 102-foot red maple in Citrus County.

Elliott nominated the tree and a county forester verified the measurements. Elliott said the distinction is a fitting tribute for a tree that has stood through a lot of change.

Even with Ace’s grand measurements, the tree won’t make it on the national registry. A red maple in Salem, NJ, the current national champion, stands at just 91 feet, but has a circumference of 269 inches and a crown spread of 82 feet.

Ace the tree.