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Academy woods boasts champion swamp white oak

New Hampshire Big Tree Program names 85-footer along Exeter River a winner.

July 7, 2020
Champion swamp white oak

With a little bushwhacking and a supply of bug spray, tree admirers can find a champion in the Academy woods.

Rockingham County’s finest swamp white oak stands near a bend of the Exeter River about 150 feet west of the red trail. The New Hampshire Big Tree Program informed Warren Biggins, the Academy’s manager of sustainability and natural resources, of the distinction in June.

As its name implies, the swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) is found naturally in wet, marshy areas, along river banks and in moist bottomlands — though it has been introduced in urban and suburban settings because of its large crowns, ample shade, moderate growth pace and longevity (some oaks live for 300 years).

So, what makes Exeter’s oak a champ? Kevin Martin of the Big Tree Program said the tree is 85 feet tall and measures 146 inches — more than 12 feet — around. It’s crown spreads 67 feet. “A very nice swamp white oak for NH,” Martin wrote in an email.

The national champion can rest easy, however. That tree, in Somerset County, New Jersey, stands 105 feet tall and is more than 22 feet in circumference.

Exeter’s champion swamp white oak is located at N 42.96341, W 070.94501. Watch out for poison ivy if you visit.