America's Next Top Tree

Trees are forest superstars.

They provide habitat for wildlife, clean our air and water, connect our communities, and pull carbon out of the atmosphere.

This holiday season, give your favorite iconic North American tree the star-treatment and vote for them to be America’s Next Top Tree. (P.S. Give yourself the star-treatment and make a gift of $200 or more by December 31 to keep forests healthy AND receive a limited-edition print of your favorite tree!).

Current leaderboard.

Here are the real-time results of the race for America's Next Top Tree. Voting is open through December 31.

Get to know the contestants.

Ponderosa Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus ponderosa.

One of the most abundant conifer species in the western U.S., ponderosa pine is beloved for its incredible height and straight, sturdy trunk (a mature tree can grow over 200 feet tall!). Named for its heavy (or ponderous) wood, ponderosa pine is prized for building classic, western-style furniture. But the ponderosa pine’s true superpower is its fire-resistant armor; the tree’s thick bark protects it so it can survive all but the most severe crown-fires.

Because of its drought-tolerance and ability to survive low intensity wildfires, ponderosa pine is one of the top tree species we plant on national forests.

Where to spot ponderosa pine: Coconino National Forest.

Fun Facts:

  • Ponderosa pine bark has a sweet smell similar to vanilla or butterscotch.
  • The ponderosa pine is the major species used for dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, to study historic climate patterns by reading the width of tree rings.
  • The ranch in the iconic western “Bonanza” was named after the ponderosa pine.

Quaking Aspen

Scientific Name: Populus tremuloides.

The quaking aspen does not appear as large as the other trees on this list, but don’t let that fool you! The largest living organism in the world is an aspen tree in Utah’s Fishlake National Forest which covers over 100 acres and weighs 6,000 tons! How is this possible? While each trunk in an aspen clone appears to be separate, they all stem from a single root system. An entire clone can live for tens of thousands of years and is incredibly adaptive. Quaking aspen is also one of the most widely distributed tree species in North America, only absent in the Southeast, and beloved across the country for its stunning yellows and golds in the fall.

Where to spot quaking aspen: Fishlake National Forest.

Fun Facts:

  • Just like its leaves, the bark of quaking aspen can also use photosynthesis to make food.
  • The largest aspen clone in the world is named “Pando” which is Latin for “I spread”, a reference to the clone’s single root system.
  • Because quaking aspen is relatively soft and flexible and does not splinter easily, it is the primary wood used to make chopsticks.

Giant Sequoia

Scientific Name: Sequoiadendron giganteum.

The giant sequoia hardly needs an introduction. Although it only grows in a narrow band on the western slope of the Serria Nevada Mountains, it is one of the most iconic trees in North America. The giant sequoia is the largest tree species in the world and can reach ages of up to 3,000 years, providing awe-inspired visitors a window into the deep past. Tree ring studies of giant sequoias have provided researchers with invaluable records of climate and fire history in the area, helping conservationists better understand the relationship between fire and forest health.

Where to spot giant sequoia: Sequoia National Forest.

Fun Facts:

  • Giant sequoias only need to produce one mature offspring to sustain the species.
  • Giant sequoias are adapted to and need wildfire to survive. Trees can retain seeds for up to 20 years and will only release seeds after a fire.
  • Giant sequoias’ bark can grow up to two feet thick, protecting trees from wildfire.

Sugar Maple

Scientific Name: Acer saccharum.

Fall in New England is synonymous with burnt oranges, brilliant reds, and sweet, sticky maple syrup thanks to the sugar maple. Abundant in the northern hardwood forests of the Great Lakes region down to the mid-Atlantic, the sugar maple has been an important symbol of the region’s culture and economy for centuries. The sugar maple is so beloved that it is the official tree of four different states - New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Vermont – and is even featured on the Canadian flag!

Where to spot sugar maple: White Mountain National Forest.

Fun Facts:

  • Sugar maple sap has twice the sugar of other maple species.
  • It takes about forty gallons of sugar maple sap, boiled down, to make one gallon of maple syrup.
  • Sugar maple is a popular wood for bowling alleys, basketball courts, and baseball bats.


Scientific Name: Pseudotsuga menziesii.

To many, the Douglas-fir is a tree to gather around during the holidays, but in the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, their magnificent size and quite power inspire awe all year long. Along the coast of Washington and Oregon, it is common to find trees an astounding 250 feet tall and five to six feet wide! These trees’ smaller cousin can be found throughout the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and Rocky Mountains. Douglas-fir can grow in a variety of climates and soil types, and develops a higher tolerance to fire as it ages, making it one of the top tree species we plant in western forests.

Where to spot Douglas-fir: Olympic National Forest.

Fun Facts:

White Oak

Scientific Name: Quercus alba.

White oaks are the gentle giants of the east, known for their immense size and beautiful burgundy colors in the fall. White oaks’ broad round crown and dense foliage make them popular ornamental trees, but they are also abundant in forests across the eastern U.S. and play an important role in supporting forest health. White oaks are more drought- and wildfire-tolerant than other oaks and their acorns are part of the diet of more than 180 different species of birds and mammals including blue jays, woodpeckers, turkeys, quail, and black bears!

Where to spot white oak: Monongahela National Forest.

Fun Facts:

  • White oaks get their name from the whitish color of the undersides of their leaves.
  • The root system of a white oak can be seven times the size of its canopy.
  • Most whiskey barrels are made from white oak, which gives the liquor its amber hue and distinctive “oaky” flavor.

Want to go one step further to support your favorite tree? Donate now!

As a donor, you can help the trees you love. Your contribution will power projects that conserve National Forests and the trees that call them home. With your help, we can work to ensure they are healthy today and for future generations.

Make a gift of $200 or more by December 31 and receive the 11 x 17” limited-edition art print of your favorite tree, created by artist Bryn Merrell!

Prints will be mailed in mid-January 2024. Frame not included. Please note your gift is tax-deductible less the fair market value of $29.

Join the conversation.

Share what you love about your favorite tree and encourage others to vote using the hashtag #AmericasNextTopTree!