State Champion Trees

The Memorial Arboretum is home to three state champion trees and two co-champion trees.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University began the Virginia Big Tree Program in 1970 in order to encourage the care and appreciation of the state's trees. Volunteers of the program go out in the field every six years and take measurements. To be considered a champion or co-champion, or to make the top five list for a tree species, the tree needs to rank highest with regards to tree height, crown spread and trunk circumference. If two trees score within five points of each other, they are designated as co-champions.

Learn more about the program and other high-ranking trees at bigtree.cnre.vt.edu.

Empress Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

State Champion 

  • Location: Section 46, near gravesite 305 
  • Height: 57 feet
  • Circumference: 213 inches  
  • Average crown spread: 64 feet

Please note that the empress tree is a non-native, invasive tree. We encourage you to enjoy this Arlington National Cemetery champion, but we discourage planting it in North America.


Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

State Co-Champion 

  • Location: Section 35, near gravesite 1339
  • Height: 126 feet
  • Circumference: 192 inches
  • Average crown spread: 112 feet

Betula and Panicum

Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima)

State Champion 

  • Location: Section 12, near gravesite 7429
  • Height: 51 feet
  • Circumference: 176 inches
  • Average crown spread: 90 feet

Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)

State Champion 

  • Location: Section 23, near gravesite 22794-C
  • Height: 45 feet
  • Circumference: 154 inches
  • Average crown spread: 56 feet

Dwarf Hackberry (Celtis pumila)

State Co-Champion, National Co-Champion

  • Location: Section 8
  • Height: 42 feet
  • Circumference: 66 inches
  • Average crown spread: 50 feet