'Glorious' elm in Alexandra crowned as P.E.I.'s largest tree

This year, CBC P.E.I. and arborist Kurt Laird searched far and wide with the help of nominations from Islanders to determine which was next in line. After months of searching, measuring and comparing, this is what we found.

'We're tree people'

This monster of a tree is the new big kid on the block. (Skygate Drones)

An American elm has been named as the largest tree on P.E.I.

P.E.I. arborist Kurt Laird has been scouring the Island with his measuring tape and has determined that a tree in Alexandra deserves the title of largest tree.

The elm rests on the property of Elizabeth and Joe Chaisson. The two moved into their home 40 years ago and have lived alongside the gargantuan tree, which has towered over the property for over 120 years.

"It's a glorious tree and there's not many around like it so we thought we were quite lucky to get such a tree on our property," Elizabeth said.

In November 2018, nearly a year to the day, an American elm in Victoria-by-the-Sea, which was known to be the biggest tree in P.E.I., was diagnosed with Dutch elm disease and had to come down. The community shared fond memories of the historic elm and had wondered which tree on P.E.I. would be next to take the crown. 

This year, CBC P.E.I. and Laird searched far and wide with the help of nominations from Islanders to determine which was next in line. After months of searching, measuring and comparing, this is what we found.

The elm in Alexandra is 28 metres tall, has a trunk over five metres in circumference and a canopy spread of nearly 34 metres. By comparison, the American elm in Victoria-by-the-Sea was measured in 2010 at 33 metres tall, with a 6.5-metre circumference and a canopy that spread nearly 40 metres.

A sizeable successor. 

A trunk as wide as a truck

This tree in Alexandra is central to the property and it's been a landmark for many occasions over the years — including the couple's wedding.

"Everybody took their pictures in front of the tree, and the Caseley tent was behind us. It's in all our wedding pictures," Elizabeth said.

When the tree is in full leaf it leans over the property casting shade for 40 metres. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

When it's in full leaf, they say, the tree is sprawling with colour and casts a towering shade across the lawn.

Family and other visitors are typically in awe of it, unsure whether they should park under it and often wondering if they can wrap their arms around it. 

As it turns out, they can't even come close.

"You have to have long arms," Joe said, smiling at Elizabeth. "I think we did it, the three of us … my uncle was here and another person, the three of us barely got our arms around it."

'Oh she just loves her trees'

Over the years together the two have loved to plant more trees in their yard. Joe planted 200 when they first moved onto the property four decades ago.

Elizabeth and Joe have lived on the property for 40 years, and say the tree has been around for well over a century. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"Oh she just loves her trees," Joe said.

"We like lots of trees and trees are good for the environment and they're good for the atmosphere and for the neighbourhood," Elizabeth said.

"We're tree people," they said together.

Laird, the arborist who measured over 70 trees across the province, concluded that this was the tree to beat taking into consideration height, circumference and the canopy spread.

"Overall, when you crunch all the numbers, it was the biggest with the three numbers put together," he said. "It's a big, big tree."

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With files from Island Morning


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