Hawai‘i’s Big Tree Competition

UPDATE: Hawaiʻi’s Champion Wiliwili Tree Makes a Commendable Run in the 2015 Big Tree Madness Competition

April 9, 2015

Waikoloa_Wiliwili_1Despite coming just a few votes away from advancing to the 2015 Big Tree Madness championship, Hawaiʻi’s wiliwili fell just short of victory to Missouri’s eastern burningbush in the Final 4 round. Missouri’s champion tree went on the take the crown of the 2015 Big Tree Madness, undeniably defeating its championship opponent by a significant margin. “Coco,” Hawaiʻi’s very own 2014 Big Tree Madness Champion coconut tree, defeated Missouri in the final round of last year’s competition.  

Mahalo to all who voted and supported the wiliwili throughout the competition. Although we may not have won the competition,  Big Tree Madness was a fun and enjoyable way to highlight and educate the public on the beautiful native wiliwili tree. For more information on this wiliwili of Waikoloa Dry Forest, and to learn about other native Hawaiian champion trees, visit the links below. 

Hawaiʻi’s Champion Wiliwili Tree in the 2015 Big Tree Madness

Last year, Hawaiʻi’s champion “Coco” brought home the Big Tree Madness crown to the islands. This year, a beautiful wiliwili has been entered into the competition and is looking to capture the title once again. The Big Tree Madness is run by American Forests and starts with 16 champion trees selected to compete for the title, similar to the popular NCAA Basketball March Madness. 

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 10 National Big Tree Champions
Click to view:

`A`ali`i || Niu || 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


Hawai‘i home to the 2014 Big Tree Madness Champion

 “Coco,” a towering Cocos nucifera located at the Hāwea Heiau Complex, has won this year’s Big Tree Madness. During the three-week long competition thousands of people from around the country voted for their favorite Big Tree Champion.  Coco advanced through 4 elimination rounds and defeated the top 15 states before being crowned 2014’s Ultimate Big Tree. 

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/