Date Of Visit: January 5, 2017
Location: 158 N. Main St, Sunderland, MA
Parking: You can park on the side of the road at or near the tree. It’s a residential area so please be safe when viewing
Hours: everyday, 24 hours a day
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Highlights: “widest tree this side of the Mississippi”, biggest sycamore tree in Massachusetts, 300 plus year old tree
On a nondescript road in Sunderland, MA, stands a tree. A big tree. But, no, this is no ordinary “big tree.” This is the widest tree in the Eastern part of the United States.
The Buttonball tree, located on N Main St, is over 113′ high, with a girth of 24’7″ and has a spread of 140′. Pretty big, huh? The locals think so. Because of its size and its legendary status, locals have dubbed the Buttonball Tree, “The widest tree this side of the Mississippi.” It is also considered, wrongly, to be the “biggest” this side of the Mississippi.
In fact, another tree in Massachusetts may hold this claim. Or, at the least it may be the tallest this side of the Mississippi. The Eastern White Pine in the Mohawk State Forest in Charlemont, Massachusetts, is listed at 174 feet in height. And there are many others that are taller than the Buttonball.
For instance, the “Boogerman Pine” (186 feet tall) located in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, is considered by many as the tallest tree in the U.S. east of the Mississippi.
In addition to these trees, there could be some huge, crazy big tree in some forest or park somewhere that has yet to be recorded. As you can see, it is a hotly contested claim!
So, the claim of “largest tree east of the Mississippi” is a title that has been debated. But, the Buttonball still holds the title for widest tree this side of the Mississippi. OK, enough fun tree facts. For now.
Who knew it would be such a contentious subject! Who knew there was so many details about these trees? But, there’s more to the tree than it’s girth and height. Besides, it’s not the size…never mind.
While the title for largest tree east of the Mississippi may be up for debate, one thing is for: the Buttonball Tree is one big tree! It is the largest sycamore tree in Massachusetts and one of the largest trees of any kind in Massachusetts. Once part of the Sunderland forest, the tree now stands in a residential area. I bet the neighbors just love all the attention. (another) Fun fact: because of their longevity, during the 17th and 18th century sycamores were sometimes planted at the door of new house for newlyweds as “bride and groom” trees. The trees lasted much longer the marriages I am sure.
Not only is the Buttonball Tree big, it is historically significant. And old. I mean really, really old. The tree is estimated at being between 350 and 400 years old. And you thought you were getting long in the tooth.
Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen…the Buttonball Tree….
In 1987, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of signing of the Constitution, a plaque was engraved in a stone and placed in front of the tree. The plaque is engraved with the following:
1787 THE NATIONAL 1987 ARBORIST ASSOCIATION AND THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETYOF ARBORICULTURE JOINTLY RECOGNIZE THIS SIGNIFICANT TREE IN THIS BICENTENNIAL YEAR AS HAVING LIVED HERE AT THE TIME OF THE SIGNING OF OUR CONSTITUTION
Don’t forget to Connect with me on Facebook (this isn’t part of the inscription)