Heritage Tree Program

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About the Program

The Heritage Tree Program is dedicated to the identification and preservation of heritage trees within the City of Wilmington, North Carolina. Heritage trees are those, which because of their age, rarity, grouping, overall beauty or historical significance represent an important aspect of the City’s history or natural landscape.

Objectives of the Program

  • Identify and catalog “Heritage” trees within the City of Wilmington.
  • To increase public awareness and appreciation of the value of Heritage and other trees that may add to the beauty and ecology of the City’s natural and urban landscape.

Heritage Tree Selection

The City’s Urban Arborist and members of the Wilmington Tree Commission are responsible for setting specific criteria for designation, receiving nominations, maintaining the program’s database and providing appropriate recognition to heritage tree owners. Nominations and selections are reported at regular monthly meetings of The Tree Commission.

To be considered for Heritage Tree status, a nomination for the tree must be submitted to the Wilmington Tree Commission with approval of the owner.

Signed Forms may be emailed or mailed to:

Aaron Reese, City Arborist
1702 Burnett Blvd
Wilmington, NC  28401

Heritage Tree Categories and Criteria

To be considered for Heritage status, a nomination for the tree must be submitted to the Tree Commission with approval of the owner. Trees can be nominated as an individual or a collection. Final selection is determined by the Heritage Trees Committee based on specific criteria as well as recommendations of professional arborists or foresters. Heritage Tree status is granted if the tree meets any or all of the following criteria:

Specimen: A tree of exceptional size, form, or rarity.

  • Size:
    • A nominated tree that has a point total that meets or exceeds 75% of the current NC Champion tree’s point total. Point totals are determined by this equation:
      [vertical height + trunk circumference (4.5 ft. above ground) +avg. crown spread = point total]
    • Any tree with a trunk diameter measured at breast height (dbh) of at least 36 inches.
  • Form or rarity:
    • The tree is an outstanding specimen of exemplary form for the species;
    • The tree is one of the largest or oldest trees in Wilmington as compared to others of its species;
    • The tree is of distinctive form an unusual species for the area, or is otherwise unique;
    • Any tree or grove of trees that have horticultural significance, including but not limited to those which are:

Historic: A tree recognized by virtue of its association with or contribution to a historic structure or district, or its association with a noted person or historic event.

  • The tree has a documented association with an historical event important to the City or region;
  • Any tree or grove of trees which have historical significance, including but not limited to those which were/are:
    • Planted as a commemorative;
    • Planted during a particularly significant historical era or event; or
    • Marking the spot of an historical event.
  • The tree was standing at the home of a person who played a role in Wilmington’s history as a leader, writer or other significant contributor; or
  • The tree is illustrated in historical sketches, journals, photographs, or writings, related to a

Landmark historical event.:

  • at are landmarks of the City, a neighborhood, or community;
  • Trees that mark a special site location


  • Trees in a notable or significant grove, avenue, or other planting.
  • Trees that provide a valuable habitat

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