Hawai‘i in the National Big Tree Program

Hawai‘i in the National Big Tree Program

Hawaiʻi has been competing with states across the nation in American Forests’ Big Tree Competition since 2011. The competition, which has been held since 1940, seeks to find the biggest trees of their species across the United States to promote forest conservation and highlight charismatic trees across the nation.

By competing in the National Big Tree Competition each year, we hope to educate the public about Hawaiʻi’s native and culturally valuable tree species while sparking excitement for forest conservation across the islands. With 21 tree species in the state of Hawaiʻi eligible to be crowned a National Big Tree Champion, we need your help finding the biggest trees our state can offer!

“Champion trees are found by people just like you- school teachers, kids fascinated by science, tree lovers of all ages, and even arborists for whom a fun day off is measuring the biggest tree they can find. You, too, can become a big tree hunter and compete to find new champions.”

Hawaiʻi also has a State Big Tree Program. To learn more visit the new Hawai’i State Big Tree page!


Will you be the one to crown Hawaiʻi’s next champion in the National Big Tree Program?

Your participation has helped the Hawai‘i Big Tree program locate 18 of 21 eligible tree species across the state on the islands of Hawai‘i, Molokaʻi, O‘ahu, and Kauaʻi!

This season we are bolstering our efforts to find champions for the final three Hawaiian tree species eligible to be crowned in the National Big Tree Competition! These elusive trees are the Aʻe, Kokiʻo ʻula, and Wauke.  As these species currently do not have a champion, the nomination you send is likely to be crowned a National Big Tree Champion! 

Wauke                                             Kokiʻo ʻula                                                Aʻe

Enthusiastic participation from Entomology specialist, Karl Magnacca has helped locate many champion trees: an A‘ali‘i, Lonomea, Mānele, Nenelau‘Ōhi‘a ai, and ‘Ōhi‘a ha, including the following that have dethroned four former Hawai‘i champions: a Kāwa‘u, Kōlea lau nui, Ma‘o hau hele, and a Pāpala kēpau. Hawai‘i Island’s champion tree count is 12 trees, the most of all the islands. O‘ahu is home to four national champions. The Kagimoto family has helped us crown Kauaʻi’s very first Big tree champion: a 42-foot ‘Ōhi‘a ai with sweet fruit. Moloka‘i is home to our 103-foot Niu residing in one of the oldest and most sacred coconut groves in Hawai‘i.

A huge Mahalo to those who contributed to this year’s big tree registry, as well as to those who have contributed in the past.

Zoom into the map below to see where Hawaiʻi’s National Big Tree Champions are located! Click on the points to learn more about each Champion tree!

Learn more about Hawaiʻi’s Big Tree Champions by clicking on the links in the table below!   

Hawaiʻi’s 18 National Big Tree Champions

Hawaiian Name Common Name Scientific Name
Koa Koa Acacia koa
Lama Hawaiian Ebony Diospyros sandwicensis
Wiliwili Hawaiian Coral Tree Erythrina sandwicensis
ʻŌhiʻa ha Hawaiian Syzygium Syzygium sandwicense
ʻŌhiʻa ai Malaysian Apple Syzygium malaccense
Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo White Hibiscus Hibiscus arnottianus
Maʻo hau hele Yellow Hibiscus Hibiscus brackenridgei
Kāwaʻu Hawaiian Holly Ilex anomala
Kōlea lau nui Colicwood Myrsine lessertiana
Olopua Hawaiian Olive Nestegis sandwicensis
Pāpala kēpau  Australasian Catchbird Tree Pisonia brunoniana
Neneleau Hawaiian Sumac Rhus sandwicensis
Lonomea Soapberry Sapindus oahuensis
Māmane Mamane Sophora chrysophylla
Niu  Coconut Palm Cocos nucifera
Hau Sea Hibiscus Hibiscus tiliaceus
Mānele Soapberry Wingleaf Sapindus saponaria
 ʻAʻaliʻi Hopbush Dodonaea viscosa 


For more tree species, see the Hawaii State Big Tree eligibility list!


Participation in American Forests’ Big Tree Competition is paused. Check back when nominations resume.


Photo of Kokiʻo ʻula by Nathan Yuen. Photos of Aʻe and Wauke by Forest & Kim Starr.