A 50-year-old Golden Raintree, at Fleitz and Flo streets in Oregon, is a co-state champion big tree runner-up.
The tree, on the property of Richard and Connie Shiple, of Fleitz Street, tied with a Golden Raintree in Dayton as runner-up. The current champion is located in Cincinnati.
The Ohio Department of Forestry, which runs the Ohio Big Tree Program, measured the Shiple’s tree last week.
Don Charlton, of the Oregon Tree Commission, had hoped that the ornamental tree would be declared a champion. But when Stephanie Miller, regional urban forester for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, measured the tree, it was five points shy of the Cincinnati tree’s size, and one point less than the runner-up in Dayton.
Charlton had invited fifth grade Coy Elementary School students to participate in the biology and measurements of the tree Sept. 29. About 75 students and 30 adults attended, including Mayor Marge Brown, Coy Elementary Principal Dawn Henry, and Coy fifth grade teachers Debbie Streight, Carla Gyurke and Lisa Kessler.
The class was somewhat disappointed when they heard the tree would not be part of the record books.
But an error in the initial tabulations was later caught, bumping the tree up to runner-up status, said Charlton.
“Oregon has one of the top three Golden Raintrees in the state,” said Charlton.
A total point score is determined based on the trunk’s circumference, height and average distance across the crown of the tree. The champion Golden Raintree in Cincinnati has a score of 167, while the runner-up in Dayton has a score of 164 points. The Shiple’s tree measured 162.8 points, but was later changed to 164 when the error was found, said Charlton.
The tree matches the Cincinnati tree’s circumference at 104”, while Dayton’s is 107”. Its height is 44’ compared to Cincinnati’s 48’, and Dayton’s 45’. Oregon’s average crown width is 63’, beating both the champion in Cincinnati, which measures 58’, and Dayton, at 49’.
The Ohio Department of Forestry measures state champions and runners-up every five years. Charlton said the Shiple’s tree could get larger, and become the state champion.
“Down the line, that ranking could change,” he said.
“We try to send someone out regularly to do that,” said Miller.
Though the tree did not rate at the top, its rank as a runner-up is still a proud moment for Oregon, said Charlton.
“It is very exciting and good for the community to have a co-champion tree,” said Charlton. “It’s nice to know Oregon has a celebrity when we didn’t even know we had one. The Tree Commission feels having a co-champion runner-up should be an excellent catalyst for increased knowledge, interest, and caring for our several thousand city trees.”
Charlton said there were more Golden Raintrees in Oregon, including two smaller ones in Willow Cemetery.
Since an article on the tree first appeared in The Press last month, another Golden Raintree has been located on Corduroy Road in Oregon. Charlton has been contacted by people in Genoa, East Toledo, and West Toledo who believe they may also have Golden Raintrees on their properties.
“We absolutely know there are at least four Golden Raintrees in Oregon. We suspect there are probably several others, now that people know about them,” said Charlton.
The Golden Raintree, a non-native species, usually grows to an average size, approximately 25-30 feet, but can become exceptionally large for an ornamental tree. It has many transformations throughout the year, with golden cascades of flowers in the summer followed by green seed pods that turn to beige that last throughout the winter. In late summer and early fall, the tree develops a distinctive rusty color and unusually shaped pods, which resemble oriental lanterns. Each pod contains three seeds.
“The program is designed to recognize trees that are the biggest species in Ohio,” said Miller. “It’s a nice way to honor trees and let people know the potential of trees.”
Miller gets calls a few times a year from the public who think they have a champion big tree, she said.
“Most of the time, they aren’t a champion tree,” said Miller. “But the Raintree in Oregon, that’s really special.”