By Alice Nicolson
Last spring many of us were thrilled to find that Collington almost had a county Champion tree in our woods – almost, because although the tree is about 200’ behind unit 5004, it is just outside our property line in the adjoining county Regent Forest Park. The tree came to our attention in 2016 because neighbors asked Davey Tree Company to clear the woodland behind their homes. The Davey arborist noticed the big tree, misidentified it as an ash, and recommended that it be treated against Emerald Ash Borer infestation (a recently arrived pest which is killing ash trees all over the country). Jane Engle contacted her friend Mike Ellis, a Prince George’s park ranger, and asked him to come over and check out this large ash since it might be a county record holder. Mike came, determined that the tree was a mockernut hickory, not an ash (so definitely not needing protection against the EAB!), took its measurements, found its location was just outside Collington property (alas!), and determined that it was indeed a Champion tree for the county. Jane was credited with nominating it (and she and Mike co-nominated two other county champions in other parks). Jane and Mike did some other tree hunting in the neighboring woodland and found one other likely candidate, but had not measured it at the time.
Pfund, Nicolson and Engle with Mockernut
This week Mike Ellis and his supervisor, Chris Garrett, came over to meet with Ken Burton, Jane’s husband, to have another look at the Mockernut and to relocate and measure the other large tree. (Kyle Olsen and I came along as well). The tree is located several hundred feet downstream from where the trail behind 5110 goes into the swampy woods and meets the stream (Bald Hill Branch) at the white bucket marker. It also is not on Collington’s property, being across the stream where the beaver was very active earlier this winter, in Enterprise Park. However, it is easily seen from our side. Chris and Mike waded across the stream (I clambered across on fallen tree trunks) determined that the tree was a bitternut hickory, measured it and checked the current record listing for that species – and we have yet another county Champion tree not quite on Collington land!
Bitternut with sign
Chris and Mike placed plaques designating both champion trees on stakes at the foot of the trees, facing Collington viewers. Both trees remind us of Jane Engle, whose love for trees inspires all who worked with her. If you walk the woodland trail behind the 5000’s, look for the new sign there and, if you are nimble, ramble down our side of the stream and see if you can spot the big tree just across the water!