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Horse Sugar Added to Maryland Big Tree Database

The horse sugar tree discovered in Parsonsburg

The horse sugar tree discovered in Parsonsburg

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has added the horse sugar tree to the Maryland Big Tree Program database. An unusual species in Maryland, horse sugar now joins the list of the 137 tree species that have been identified and recorded in the database.

Staff from DNR Forest Service’s Wicomico Demonstration Office discovered the tree in the Wicomico Demonstration Forest near the DNR office in Parsonsburg. The tree is 25 feet tall, with a total point value of 43.

The horse sugar tree (Symplocos tinctoria) is native to Somerset, Worcester and the easternmost portion of Wicomico counties. Also known as a common Sweetleaf, the trees are small, typically no more than 30 feet in height. They feature sweet tasting-leaves, and in the spring, fragrant, whitish-yellow flowers. The U.S. Champion in Virginia is 111 points.

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

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. For more information or a copy of the Maryland Big Tree List, contact John Bennett at or 410-287-5980.