How America's Largest Japanese Pagoda Tree Came to Martha's Vineyard

New short film by Gathering Growth documents the unlikely journey from a seedling's voyage in 1837 to National Champion in 2020

Courtesy of your highly caffeinated and ever thankful editorial team at FM HQ

Established to "visually preserve the legacy of significant trees and forests across the U.S.", the Gathering Growth Foundation—founded by photographer and friend of Field Mag Brian Kelley—locates and documents what are called "Champion Trees", the largest living specimens of any given species to protect and preserve them for future generations.

Though photography is the foundation's main medium of preservation, short documentary films have also been added to GGF's lexicon, initially with this heart warming tale of a naturalist's unlikely discovery of the world's largest pine tree, and followed by their newest release, focused on America's largest Japaese Pagoda Tree.

In short, Brian had a hobby of finding the biggest trees in America, and now he documents them. Beautifully, I might add.


In this brief film, Kelley's subject is the National Champion Japanese Pagoda Tree, living on Martha's Vineyard of Massachusetts. The story of the Japanese Pagoda tree is a unique one; it was brought to the US by a prominanent ship caption in 1837 as a seedling and has been growing tall on the island ever since.

The stillness and grandeur of these preserved trees that Gathering Growth works to protect are enough to make anyone take a step back and stare.


For more on the Gathering Growth Foundation, visit their website and follow GGF on Instagram.

Published 11-17-2020