Hawai‘i’s Big Tree Competition

UPDATE: As the Spring 2016 season for Hawaiʻi’s Big Tree Competition starts up, we remember two former Big Tree champions.

December 23, 2015

The annual Big Tree Competition is well underway and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife is inviting fellow nature enthusiasts to submit the biggest trees found across Hawaii. The National competition comes in light of the tragic falling of Hawaiʻi’s own Big Tree champions: Coco the beloved Hawaii Kai coconut palm, and the ʻAʻaliʻi tree (Hopbush) from the Maui Botanical Gardens. To recall, Coco was crowned 2014’s National Big Tree Coconut species winner as well as the National Ultimate Big Tree for all species in American Forests’ March Madness Competition. Both fallen champions are being respectively re-used at their locations as a cultural tool for educational purposes.

As we honor the past and embrace the future, we seek new champions for these two trees and the other 19 eligible species acknowledged by American Forests. More information about eligible species and other native Hawaiian champion trees can be found below. Big Tree nominations for the 2016 season are due:

February 1, 2016

Let the hunt begin!

 cocoss aaliiz









Big Tree Competition

Run by American Forests, the National Big Tree competition seeks to find the biggest tree species in the United States to promote and preserve our tree species. In Hawai‘i, our goal is to educate the public about our native and culturally valuable tree species. Currently the State of Hawai‘i has twenty-one tree species eligible to be crowned a National Big Tree Champion, listed below. The Champion Big Trees are measured based on a point system designed by American Forests using their height, circumference, and crown spread. We encourage the public to join our search for the biggest tree of each of these species. Can you find the next Big Tree Champion?

Hawaiʻi Tree Species Eligible to be a National Big Tree Champion

Common Tree Name Hawaiian Tree Name Genus & Species
Koa Koa Acacia koa
Lama Lama Diospyros sandwicensis
Wiliwili Wiliwili Erythrina sandwicensis
ʻŌhiʻa ha ʻŌhiʻa ha Syzygium sandwicense
Malaysian apple ʻŌhiʻa ai Syzygium malaccense
White hibiscus Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo Hibiscus arnottianus
Hibiscus Maʻo hau hele Hibiscus brackenridgei
Red Kauaʻi hibiscus Aloalo Hibiscus clayii
Hawaiian holly Kāwaʻu Ilex anomala
Kolea lau nui Kōlea lau nui Myrsine lessertiana
Hawaiian olive Olopua Nestegis sandwicensis
Papalakepau Pāpalakēpau Pisonia brunoniana
Hawaiian sumach Nenelau Rhus sandwicensis
Soapberry Lonomea Sapindus oahuensis
Mamane Mamane Sophora chrysophylla
Oʻahu prickly-ash Aʻe Zanthoxylum oahuense
Paper mulberry Wauke Broussonetia papyrifera
Coconut Niu Cocos nucifera
Sea hibiscus Hau Hibiscus tiliaceus
Soapberry wingleaf Mānele Sapindus saponaria
Hopbush ʻAʻaliʻi Dodonaea viscosa


Hawai‘i currently has 8 National Big Tree Champions
Click to view:

 Wiliwili || Hau || Koa || Mānele || Olopua || Pāpalakēpau || Kōlea lau nui || Mamane 


Seeking A Champion

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program. Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a champion.

Hawaiian Tree Name Genus & Species
Lama Diospyros sandwicensis
ʻŌhiʻa ha Syzygium sandwicense
ʻŌhiʻa ai Syzygium malaccense
Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo Hibiscus arnottianus
Maʻo hau hele Hibiscus brackenridgei
Aloalo Hibiscus clayii
Kāwaʻu Ilex anomala
Nenelau Rhus sandwicensis
Lonomea Sapindus oahuensis
Aʻe Zanthoxylum oahuense
Wauke Broussonetia papyrifera


Nominate A Tree

To nominate a tree, contact Hawai‘i Big Tree coordinator at 808-587-0164 and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread.  Also, please know your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

For more on the National Big Tree Program: www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/