Big Leaf Maple trees (Acer macrophyllum) are some of the oldest living organisms on the San Juan Islands, living to be well over two hundred years old. The English Camp Big Leaf Maples were standing on the Island long before the camp was built, there’s even evidence of the Northern Straits Salish Indians knowing of the largest and oldest tree when it was a young sapling several hundred years before the American or English occupation of the San Juans. Not only can the Big Leaf Maples grow old but they can grow quite large and standing next to the Royal Marine Barracks gardens at English Camp is a massive tree that once claimed the title of largest of its kind
When measured in 1966 the tree stood at 98 feet tall, with an average crown spread of 105 feet, and a trunk circumference at 24 feet the English Camp Big Leaf Maple was declared the largest Big Leaf Maple in the United States by the American Forest Association. Unfortunately, its reign was short-lived as a lightning strike in 1969 cost the tree two of its larger limbs, and later that year a tree located in Polk County, Oregon dethroned the English Camp tree. Today the Big Leaf Maple at English Camp ranks as third as another tree in Salem, Oregon claimed the title of largest in 1980. However, the English Camp tree may still be one of the oldest as core samples taken in 1969 placed the tree's age at 293 years old, meaning it will celebrate 350 years in 2023.