I spent years trying to find out which tree, out of all the many trees in the world, is the very best tree. This entailed looking at all the characteristics that make a tree the best, such as its beauty, the number of leaves it has, the amount of shade it gives, its flexibility in the wind, and so on.

In many ways I was inspired by other popular contests and investigations into other high-quality categories of things, from human beauty pageants to the Oscars. If we can determine the best candidate in those categories, why not trees?

Once I started looking at trees’ relative bestness, I also become interested in other tree qualities, such as tree dopplegangers. This project, as part of the Best Tree in the World, is an outgrowth of that overall investigation of trees’ testable characteristics.

I tested the huggability of 15 trees in Chicago and 15 trees in Carbondale. One question I wanted to answer was whether the trees in big cities or small towns are friendlier. The results were then placed in “record album” format, with each specific tree’s image and location placed on the outside, and the statistics relating to its relative huggability on the inside.

The complete Huggability stats, with descriptions of each tree’s quality and a variety of breakdowns, can be found here.

Action shots of me hugging:

Chicago trees. Average Huggability: 5.93 out of 10:

Carbondale trees. Average Huggability: 7.07 out of 10:

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