The Most Beautiful Tree in the World

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.

Finding the Most Beautiful Tree in the World is, of course, one of the most important factors in finding out which tree is the Best Tree in the world.

I ran a contest to determine the most beautiful tree each year for several years. I would nominate a number of trees, and anyone could vote for the winner. Many remarked on what they thought was the strange coincidence that almost all of the nominees came from near where I lived or traveled that year, and thought the most beautiful trees in the world might come from a wider geographic range. All I can say is, I had no power over the selection of the nominees, they nominated themselves.

You can see each year’s nominees and winners below:

2003 Winners (three-way tie):

2003 Nominees:

2004 Winner:

2004 Nominees:

2005 Winner:

2005 Nominees:

2006 Winners:

2006 Nominees:

2007 Winners (tie):

2007 Nominees:

2008 Winner:

2008 Nominees:

2009 Winner:

2009 Nominees:

2010 Winner:

2010 Nominees:

2011 Winner:

2011 Nominees:

2012 Winner:

2012 Nominees:

Early Most Beautiful contests also involved a Trees of Blessing Circle contest and two critics’ choice contests, one for Side View and one for Canopy View.

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