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‘Coco’ is this year’s ‘Ultimate Big Tree’

April 8, 2014 - 10:37am

In the championship round of American Forests’ Big Tree Madness contest, “Coco” a towering coconut palm at the Hawea Heiau Complex in Hawaii Kai, Oahu, beat out Missouri’s “Big Sassy Basswood.”

Friday’s voting on the American Forests’ Facebook page resulted in “Coco” receiving 64 percent of the votes, making it the champion. During the three-week contest, mirrored after the NCAA’s Final Four basketball tournament, thousands of people from around the country voted for their favorite big trees. This was the contest’s second year.

Since 1940, the National Big Tree Program has recognized the beauty and critical ecosystem services provided by our biggest and oldest trees. More than 750 champions are crowned each year and documented in the biannual publication — the National Register of Big Trees. For more than 70 years, the program strives to preserve and promote the iconic stature of these living monarchs, as well as to educate people about the key role that these remarkable trees and forests play in sustaining a healthy environment.

“’Coco’ may not the biggest tree in overall girth, but to think at 112 feet high it’s withstood winds and storms and remains so stately and upright, makes it a remarkable tree,” said William Aila Jr., state Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman. “It appears like a guardian over the Hawea Heiau Complex. It is an important historical and cultural site that was recently protected from any future development in a heavily urbanized area.”

Hawaii currently has 10 trees on the National Register of Big Trees, including “Coco.”