BERLIN — Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials last week officially identified and recorded a rare species of tree found in Worcester County in the Pocomoke State Forest.
The tree species Swamp Bay, or Persea palustris, was discovered and measured earlier this month in Hickory Point Cypress Swamp at Pocomoke State Forest by Dan Wilson, a volunteer 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.