Humble Beginnings

The original Treasure Trees Program was started in the late 1980s by Tom Martin and Joe McLaurin. At the time, Tom was working as the Urban Forestry Agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Joe was a woodworker and naturalist. They met at a class Tom was teaching and struck up a friendship, traveling the county searching, measuring and documenting big and rare trees. The Treasure Trees Program had taken root.

Thanks to help from many volunteers, the Treasure Trees Program found and recognized 123 special trees in the county between 1989 and 2000. Three of the original five trees recognized the first year still stand near or on the campus of Queens College. Over the years, owners of Treasure Trees received a certificate and a number-stamped metal tag designed by Joe to apply to the tree. There was even a gala to celebrate the newest honorees.

By the early 2000s, the program began to lose steam and quietly petered out. Fortunately, two local arborists – Patrick George (middle photo) and Patrick Anderson (bottom photo) – revived the effort as a passion project. George’s Heartwood Tree Service has even provided free tree care to several of the most fragile Treasure Trees. 

The city of Charlotte’s arborist staff took notice and now a new committee has formed that is lead by tree enthusiast, Brett Dupree, and TreesCharlotte. This team is now on the hunt to solicit nominations from the community to add new ones to the list.

"Treasure trees are our living heritage." - Tom Martin and Joe McLaurin 

The New Treasure Trees Program

The new Treasure Trees Program seeks to locate the original Treasure Trees and tell their stories, as well as recognize a new generation of special trees and share their ecological importance to the region’s environment. Local tree enthusiasts, private arborists, city of Charlotte staff and TreesCharlotte representatives make up the program’s committee.

Want to become a Treasure Tree Hunter? Email Committee Co-Lead Kate Bolkin,