One of Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Cottonwood trees has been named a national champion by the America Forest Foundation. The National Big Tree program started back in 1940 with the mission of finding the largest tree of its species.
Usually Cottonwoods aren’t welcome by homeowners due to their long invasive roots, insatiable thirst for water and the pesky little pollen balls that blow of their leaves in spring. But this Albuquerque Cottonwood, located on private property was nominated for big-tree status by its proud owner.
The massive tree is 85 feet tall, and spans 34 feet in diameter, giving it just enough points to trump the reigning Big Tree champion in Texas.
Dan Ware, the Fire Prevention and Outreach Program Manager for the state’s forestry division, says Cottonwoods are an important part of New Mexico’s landscape.
“The Cottonwood tree definitely has cultural significance for our state. We are home to the Rio Grande Cottonwood. The Rio Grande is synonymous with New Mexico. Ever since settlers were here and when Native Americans were here, the Cottonwood has grown along our rivers. They’re one of our state’s shining examples of our natural ecosystems.”
The state Forestry Division says this will be New Mexico’s fifteenth tree to receive big-tree status.