Three new native trees discovered in county

    COLORFUL — Brilliant red berries that last into the winter season and harsh thorns describe the Hawthorne tree, a small native plant to Oxford County. This one was discovered on the Hooker Farm in Oxford.

    OXFORD — The Hawthorn with its fierce thorns and brilliant fall color has been discovered bordering a pasture at the Hooker Farm in Oxford.

    HARDY TREE — The Green Ash tree, like this one discovered on town property, is a hardy shade tree that has been eavily used as a replacement for the American elm in urban landscapes across the U.S., according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

    It is one of three new species the town was able to claim as its own during this year’s Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District “Big Tree” Contest.

    A Green Ash and a Trembling Aspen tree were also discovered on town property, helping to bring the total number of identified native trees in Oxford County to a total of 41 of the known 66 varities native to the area. That is an increase of seven identified since last year’s contest.

    The contest asks residents to search out specific native trees in Oxford County. The largeness of the tree is determined by a formula where the total points are reached by adding the tree circumference (in inches) plus the height (in feet) plus one-fourth of the crown spread (in feet.)

    “We had a very good year this year,” said Jean Federico of the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District which has sponsored the annual contest from its Paris headquarters with the support of Consulting Forester Merle Ring since 2012.

    SONGBIRD FOOD —The Hawthorne, this was one discovered on the Hooker Farm in Oxford, is a good example of one of the smaller native species in Oxford County, according to the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District. A number of the songbirds rely on the tree’s late-season berries as a winter food source, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

    The county program mirrors the state’s Big Tree Register program.

    The discovery of the two on a site behind the Oxford Town Office and near the end of the road next to Pismoe Beach were announced recently in a letter from the District to the town read by Town Manager Butch Asselin in his report to the Board of Selectmen at a December meeting.

    Federico, whose two granddaughters also found two of the champion new trees in other areas of Oxford County, said the Green Ash tree was found by Ring when he went to the Oxford Elementary School and Town Office area to measure a Sumac bush. “He was looking around and found the Ash,” she said.

    The Trembling Aspen was found by Howie Munday near the end of the road by Pismoe Beach, she said.

    A Scarlet Oak was found on SAD 17 property by Michele Windsor.

    If there were a Guinness Book of World Records for trees, the quaking aspen would be in it – several times. First, it has the widest natural range of any tree in North America, spanning 47 degrees of latitude (equal to half the distance from the equator to the North Pole), 110 degrees of longitude (nine time zones) and elevations from sea level to timberline. It is also the largest living organism, growing in clones that reproduce primarily by sending up sprouts from their roots. And as far as the oldest … a clone in Minnesota has been estimated to be 8,000 years old!Trembling Ash, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

    “We have now found 41 of the 66 native trees in Oxford County but there are lots more out there that might beat these champs. Nine have made it into the Maine Register of Big Trees and eight are nominees for the Maine Register of Big Trees,” Federico said.

    Aptly named, the scarlet oak is a parade of red throughout the seasons. In the early spring, new leaves unfurl with a red hue. The vibrant red fall display is truly magnificent. And those red leaves often hangs on through the first snow, giving winter a touch of much-needed color. The inner bark of the scarlet oak is even red, according to the Arbor day Foundation.

    In 2012, searchers in the Oxford County Big Tree contest discovered in Hebron the tallest American Chestnut Tree east of the Mississippi River. That find  prompted the American Chestnut Foundation to request that the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation Distric find out if more of these rare trees are in the area.

    Federico urges people to participate in the contest as a summer project or a family project or a competition between friends. Owners of champion trees receive a certificate and nominators of winning trees receive T-shirts and copies of “Forest Trees of Maine, Centennial Edition 1908-2008.”

    For more information call 744-3119 or email