From the towering giant sequoias of Northern California to the mist-shrouded pines of Japanese forests, from the regal oak trees of England to the elegant cypresses of Italy, trees are often characteristic of the places where they grow. Here in Vero Beach, our subtropical climate is hospitable to a rich variety of trees. And some trees have been given special designations: They are “champions.”
What does it mean to call a tree a champion? The answer lies with special programs that can foster appreciation for the amazing trees we may see every day.
The National Register of Champion Trees is a program begun in 1940 by the American Forestry Association — an organization now known simply as American Forests. The hope was that a competition to find extraordinary trees would spark the desire to protect and preserve trees and forests. Today, in addition to the national program, there are local programs that recognize trees within specific areas. In the Vero Beach area, there are two trees on the National Register; not surprisingly, they are located at McKee Botanical Garden. And there are two more trees that have been recognized as local champions, for (and within) the city of Vero Beach.