Our 5th annual Great American Tree compeition received 25 nominations! We have tallied over 6,000 votes on outstanding trees that each uniquely represent our nation's beautiful and diverse canopy. Our top 3 trees with the most member votes are (in no particular order): Quamal the douglas fir, Rosa the ponderosa pine, and the cottonwood trees.

The 2019 Great American Tree is... Rosa the Ponderosa Pine of the Black Hills of South Dakota! This tree embodies the American spirit with her resilience and stature. She is a testament to the ever-lasting legacy trees can leave on their community. Rosa has overcome many environmental changes and challenges throughout her 738 years. This tree has stood tall after a lightning strike, bug infestations and the consequences of climate change. Her adaptations and resilience have taught scientists many things about landscape changes in her community. "We have a lot to learn from this great American tree that has been there through all of our histories as a Nation and for so much of history of the Black Hills." Nominated by Rachel Ormseth and Frank Carroll. More here.

We are also happy to announce the cottonwood trees planted by "Pa" Ingalls as our first runner up! These five trees have rich historic roots in South Dakota. More here.

Quamal, one of the world's largest known Douglas firs in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state, is our second runner up. More here

Thanks for your participation in the Great American Tree Competition!

Rosa the Ponderosa Pine

Rosa the Ponderosa Pine lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is 24” diameter at breast height, and stands roughly 60 feet tall. From a seedling in 1281, Rosa is 738 years old and has provided a multitude of information on historic climatic patterns from the 13th century through the 20th century. Rosa’s location is not disclosed to protect her from vandalism. She was sprayed with insecticides to protect her from the worst of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) epidemic that began in the Black Hills in 1997 and is still active. Frank Carroll has worked closely with Rosa during his time with the Forest Service and is intimately familiar with her value as a living treasury of our history. Shelley Deisch, State of South Dakota Division of Wildlife, first cored Rosa in the 1980s as a graduate student working on a climate study that used tree rings as indicators of drought. 

Rosa is a living testament to how tough trees can be and provides important insight into all of the environmental factors trees must deal with to survive. Rosa embodies the American spirit of resiliency and enduring tough obstacles and adverse circumstances. We have a lot to learn from this great American tree that has been there through all of our history as a Nation and for so much of history of the Black Hills. Rosa watched General Custer ride through the Hills in 1874. She witnessed Crazy Horse and so many other heroes of the Hills through time. She stands today, a silent but watchful sentry over centuries of forest management, wildfires, insect attacks, and climate change.


Rachel Ormseth, State of South Dakota, Division of Forestry; 

Frank Carroll, Professional Forest Management, LLC PFMc

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2019's Great American Tree is.. Rosa the ponderosa pine! Read more about her here.

Winner announced on July 4th!