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gabriola's big trees

This site contains descriptions and photos of some of the largest specimens of native tree species on Gabriola Island, which is in the relatively dry Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) ecological zone. Therefore, many native trees such as Douglas-fir, Western red cedar and Western hemlock are much smaller than in other parts of Vancouver Island and on the coastal mainland. In contrast, Gabriola's native species that thrive on drier sites, such as arbutus and Garry oak, are some of the largest specimens found anywhere.

How to measure a tree for the registry

To nominate a big tree for this registry, or for further information, email Always be respectful of the environment—don't trample the tree roots or surrounding plants. Once you’ve identified the tree by species, simply measure the trunk circumference (the girth of the trunk) at a specified height—this is the easiest measurement to take accurately without specialized equipment. To measure the circumference of the tree use a non-stretch string or rope, and ensure that it remains horizontal as it wraps around the tree.

  • On flat ground, measure the trunk circumference at 4.5 feet (1.37 m) above ground level). If a burl or obstruction makes this location unrepresentative of the circumference, measure at the nearest suitable height and record that height.
  • If the tree forks at or below the recommended measuring height, measure the circumference at the narrowest place below the lowest fork. Record the actual measurement height.
  • If the tree is on a slope, measure the circumference at the recommended height up the trunk on both the high and the low side of the slope. Record the average of these two measurements. If the tree is on a steep slope, take one measurement at 1.37m up from the midpoint of the trunk (the estimated germination point of the tree). If the slope is extreme, you may need to measure circumference higher up. Always make note of the measurement height.
  • If the tree is leaning, measure the circumference at 1.37m up from the axis of the tree base, following the lean of the trunk. Always measure circumference at a right angle to the trunk, otherwise circumference will be overestimated.

using the registry

This registry lists species in alphabetical order by common name, followed by its botanical name. Each species is followed by a list of individual big tree location. (The numbers are simply the order the trees were nominated for the registry).

  • For general information about Gabriola's tree species, CLICK on the TREE SPECIES.
  • For descriptions and photos of registered trees, CLICK on the numbered locations.
  • The biggest registered tree in each species listed is bolded.
  • Trees on private land are marked * and their precise locations are not usually listed.

- ALDER, Red
    Alnus rubra

- ARBUTUS (Madrone)
    Arbutus menziesii


- ASPEN, Trembling
    Populus tremuloides


    Rhamnus purshiana





- CEDAR, Western Red
    Thuja plicata

- CEDAR, Yellow
    Chamaecyparis     nootkatensis

  • None found—unlikely to occur on Gabriola.




- CHERRY, Bitter
     Prunus emarginata


    Populus trichocarpa

- CRABAPPLE, Pacific
    Malus fusca


-DOGWOOD, Pacific
    Cornus nauttallii




    Pseudotsuga menziesii

- FIR, Grand
    Abies grandis



    Crataegus douglasii

  • None nominated yet.



- HEMLOCK, Western
    Tsuga heterophylla

- JUNIPER, Rocky Mtn.
   Juniperus scopulorum
   or Juniperus maritima



- MAPLE, Bigleaf
    Acer macrophyllum

- MAPLE, Douglas
    Acer glabrum

  • None nominated yet. A few are on the winter waterfall trail above Joyce Lockwood CP, but are unmeasured.

- OAK, Garry
    Quercus garryana

- PINE, Shore
    Pinus contorta

- PINE, Western White
    Pinus monticola


- WILLOW, Pacific
    Salix lucida


- WILLOW, Scouler's
    Salix scouleriana

- YEW, Western
    Taxus brevifolia


For information about the biggest trees in British Columbia, visit the BC Big Tree Registry.
For information about GaLTT and about Gabriola's parks and trails, visit the GaLTT homepage.

Copyright © 2015, Gabriola Land and Trails Trust. All rights reserved. Updated December 16, 2021.