Experiencing the Live Oak Tree

Experiencing the Live Oak Tree

Each time I walk beneath the magnificent branches of Live Oak trees I feel as if I am being transported back to another time and place. This oak is considered to be a symbol of southern strength. Many oaks you see lining older southern streets are hundreds of years old.

I am often in awe that such huge magnificent trees are able to stand firmly in such sandy loose Florida soil. They have these huge trunks and gnarly outstretched limbs that look as though they could almost reach out and grab you. Each Live Oak tree is usually draped with lovely Spanish moss that sways gently in the breeze, giving these trees a touch of eeriness.

Fairchild Oak TreeThe oldest Live Oak tree in Florida (pictured here) is thought to be in Ormond Beach, and is located in Bulow Creek State Park. This oak is called the “Fairchild Oak” and is thought to be over 400 years old. The oak has been a silent witness to human activities along Bulow Creek. According to the park this includes the destruction of the nearby Bulow Plantation during the second Seminole War in 1836.

The Live Oak is also one of the best trees to survive hurricane winds. These oaks have been called the most wind-tolerant shade tree in all of Florida. Within three months after Hurricane Charley made landfall in Florida, the Live Oak trees near the coast started re-growing leaves. The Live Oak is also the top shade tree to survive Hurricane Camille, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States.

Did you know there is even a “Live Oak Society” for these amazing trees? The Live Oak Society was founded in 1934 by Dr. Edwin Lewis Stephens, the first president of Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana in Lafayette). The Society promotes the culture, distribution, preservation and appreciation of the live oak tree, scientifically known as Quercus virginiana.

According to the Live Oak Society the “Seven Sisters Oak”, formerly known as “Doby’s Seven Sisters” is thought to be the oldest Live Oak tree alive. The owner who first named the tree was Carole Hendry Doby, who was one of seven sisters. The “Seven Sisters Oak” is located in the Lewisburg area of Mandeville, Louisiana on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Estimated by foresters to be 1200 years old, this tree has a girth of over 38 feet. This oak is also the National Champion on the National Register of Big Trees.