BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) personnel recently discovered a Cherrybark Oak tree near Joor Road that may become the largest State Cherrybark Oak Champion.
In conjunction with an upcoming project to construct a new Comite River Bridge, Herb Piller, DOTD Landscape Architect, initially discovered the tree which was later assessed by a DEMCO forester as a contender for State Champion status. Only native or naturalized species are eligible to be designated as Champion trees by the Louisiana Forestry Association.
Only two Champion Cherrybark Oaks exist in Louisiana: one each in East and West Feliciana Parishes. The trees are judged on a point system that includes measurements of the circumference, height and diameter. The two existing champions have scores of about 380 points while the tree on Joor Road is estimated at 410, the largest in the state. Before issuing the official certification, the State Agricultural Forester must wait for the tree to leaf out.
The two National Cherrybark Oak champions are both located in Virginia, one measuring at 482 and the other at 479 points. To preserve the Joor Road tree, DOTD will utilize a tree protection zone during construction and build a retaining wall for protection after construction.