Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) has been an important tree for the people of what is now the State of Maine for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. As citizens of the “Pine Tree State,” it’s no wonder we take pride regarding this particular species. Since the Register of Big Trees” in 1968, only two trees have been listed in this category.  

     The first was a tree known as the “Punch Bowl pine,” located in Blanchard, and listed in 1970 as the National Champion in this category. Then, when the top blew out of the 147-foot giant, the current champion in Morrill took over, in 1979. Since then, the Morrill pine has had several runs at National Champion status, as well as maintaining its state status. The tree stands guard, practically in the roadway along state Route 131, just south of the Bowen farmstead. 

     For at least 225 years, according to farm records and recollections, the tree has dodged the dangers of both nature and humanity. While a testament to the strength of the mighty pine, time has taken its toll.  The double-topped tree is slowly spreading, and thus poses a danger to motorists passing by. If you want to get a glimpse at this tree, and the window into history that comes with it, you should make the trip soon. The Maine Department of Transportation plans to remove the tree later this year. While certainly not the end one would wish for the tree, the overall health and need for removal attests to the reasoning behind the lack of legal protection for such trees. When the time comes, owners and managers need the flexibility to be able to remove trees that pose a danger to the public.  

     To determine if a tree is a champion, the Maine Forest Service gives each tree a score based on a formula that adds circumference in inches, height in feet, and ¼ of the crown spread in feet. The Morrill pine has a circumference of 245 inches (dbh = 6.5 feet), a height of 125 feet, and an average crown spread of 78 feet for a total point value of 390. Since nomination, the tree has gained more than 40 points. 

     For more on Maine’s Register of Big Trees, contact Jan Santerre, coordinator, at 800-367-0223, or click here.

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