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New Tree Species Identified in Pocomoke State Forest

Worcester County, Md. (January 26, 2012) − The tree species swamp bay, or Persea palustris, was identified earlier this month in Hickory Point Cypress Swamp at Pocomoke State Forest. The tree was discovered by native tree expert Sam Jones and measured by Dan Wilson with the Maryland Big Tree Program (MBTP).

“In the past, the Department of Natural Resources recorded the existence of this tree growing in Hickory Point Cypress Swamp. But this is the first time a full measurement has been taken so that the tree can be added to the Maryland database maintained by our program,” said John Bennett, volunteer coordinator of MBTP. “It’s possible that other populations exist in other locations in Maryland.”

The swamp bay is listed on Maryland’s Threatened and Endangered Species List for Worcester County. The tree has a circumference of 17 inches, a height of 27 feet and an average crown spread of 20 feet. Its total point value is 49, making it the first State Champion.

The swamp bay is more common in North Carolina. The U.S. Champion, with a total of 212 points is located in a swamp in Newport News, Virginia.

The swamp bay is now the 143rd tree species to be added to the Maryland Big Tree Program. The recently found example is among a clump of smaller trees of the same species, so it appears there is a well-established colony to support future growth. 

The Big Tree Program originated in Maryland in 1925, went national in 1940, and is run by American Forests, Each state has a State Coordinator who collects data, measures trees, and biannually submits certain trees to American Forests as potential National Champions. For more information, visit

The universal “point” system was developed by Maryland’s first State Forester, Fred Besley.  The formula is: circumference in inches + height in feet + one fourth of the average crown spread in feet. To report what may be a State Big Tree, or for a copy of the State Big Tree List, contact John Bennett at or 410-287-5980. 

   January 26, 2012

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at