Highlights of historic Fernandina, the beaches, and coastal nature at Florida-Georgia border.

TREASURED TREE: Amelia Island’s State Champion Pine

Article & Photos by Elizabeth Wilkes, UF/IFAS Nassau Extension

Spotlight on Nassau Gardens

Tony and Barbara Lopez moved from Miami, Florida. They spent months looking for the perfect place and finally settled on three acres in 1978 on Amelia Island. It was their dream come true to have a forested lot with tons of trees. What a happy day!

Tony took about a year and a half to clean and make room for his home in the forest and he did all of the work himself. He was careful to cut down as few trees as possible to make room for their new home and yard.

Champion Loblolly Pine Tree, Amelia Island, Florida. Photo credit: Elizabeth Wilkes, UF/IFAS Nassau Extension
Champion Loblolly Pine Tree, Amelia Island. Photo credit: Elizabeth Wilkes, UF/IFAS Nassau Extension

These acres are uniquely special because of a large pine tree. In fact, it is classified as a “Champion” tree (designation awarded by the Florida Forest Service). How was it measured to be given such a label? In 1984, a Nassau County Forester measured it in three ways:

#1 The circumference was measured 4 feet above ground and given 1 point for every foot.
#2 The height is also 1 point for every foot.
#3 Limbs were measured in four directions, north, south, east and west. All the numbers were added up for a total then divide by 4. This becomes the average limb length.

Florida's State Champion Pine Tree on Amelia Island. Photo credit Elizabeth Wilkes, UF/IFAS Nassau Extension
Tony Lopez & State Champion Pine Tree, Amelia Island, FL. Photo credit: Elizabeth Wilkes, UF/IFAS Nassau Extension
Once the measurements were completed, they discovered it was indeed a Co-champion with another large pine tree in Tallahassee. Sometime around 1995, the Tallahassee pine was hit by lightning, destroying it. This caused the Amelia Island pine tree to become Florida’s state “Champion.”

15 Feet, 6-Inch Circumference

The huge Loblolly pine tree is still growing strong. Thirty-four years ago the circumference was 13 feet, 5 inches and now it is 15 feet, 6 inches. It takes five people to reach around the whole tree.

Many people come to see it, including classroom children, members of Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts along with other youth and adults. It truly is an amazing pine tree. A treasure in Nassau County’s own back yard.
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SPOTLIGHT

“Spotlight on Nassau Gardens,” is a monthly recognition program of the UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension Service, featuring the beautiful gardens and plants grown by Nassau County, Florida residents. (PICTURED, THIS MONTH’S HONOREE, TONY LOPEZ.) To be considered, eMail a digital photo with a description of your “Spotlight,” along with your name, address, and phone number to beawalker105@gmail.com. For more information, call the Nassau County Extension office at 904-530-6353.

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