Trees work hard for us every day. They give us clean air, cooler temperatures, nourishment and they even mitigate floods. In celebration of trees’ innumerable accomplishments and the benefits they provide, check out these 8 great trees.
An icon of the coastal South Carolina Lowcountry, the Angel Oak serves as the focal point and raison d’etre of a small park owned and operated by the City of Charleston. The park and tree are located on Johns Island, one of the sea islands that buffer the mainland from Atlantic storms.
Local mythology claims the tree to be over 1400 years old and the “oldest living thing, east of the Rocky Mountains”. A more reasonable guess of the magnificent tree’s age would be between 300 and 500 years old. Regardless of its age, the Angel Oak is one of the most beautiful, inspiring and often-visited trees in the southeastern United States. The tree is 65 feet tall with a diameter of 8.5 feet and has a shade area of approximately17, 000 square feet. The longest limb is 89 feet long and it has a circumference of 11.5 feet.
The property on which the Angel Oak stands was originally part of a land grant to Abraham Waight in 1717. Waight became a prosperous planter owning several plantations including The Point where the Angel Oak stood. The property passed from generation to generation acquiring the Angel name when Martha Waight married Justis Angel in 1810. The City of Charleston acquired the Angel Oak and surrounding property in 1991. Angel Oak Park was opened to the public on September 23, 1991.
The Angel Oak is cared for by the City of Charleston Urban Forestry Division. The tree is inspected monthly with pruning prescribed as needed (usually every 2 years). Proceeds from the Park’s gift shop pay for an annual application of coarse, hardwood mulch that extends past the drip line of the tree. The cabling system is inspected annually and each February a soil drench of Imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide, is applied. In 2004 the F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company conducted an evaluation of the structural supports and the City is in the process of implementing those recommendations.
This magnificent tree is visited and appreciated by people from around the globe. Many arborists have volunteered to perform work in the tree just for the privilege of doing so. In 2000 the Angel Oak was named as South Carolina’s Millennium Tree by the America the Beautiful Fund and in 2004 received the first Heritage Tree Award presented by the South Carolina Urban and Community Forestry Council.
Live Oak – Darien, GA
Darien is known for its iconic sprawling oaks. Adorned with Spanish moss almost like a draped, crocheted quilt. Like fingers, the branches’ reaching towards the sunlight that they crave. Many are noteworthy, but at 250 years old this oak tree has seen some of the most historically significant moments of time for not just the City of Darien but the foundation of our great Nation. Many a visitor has sat in the shade of its 100-foot crown spread. Locals have spent their childhood playing above its mighty roots. What makes this single oak so strong to stand the test of time?
Arkansas Champion Bald Cypress – Arkansas County, AR
This is the state of Arkansas Champion Bald Cypress Tree. the tree has a circumference of 516 inches, a crown spread of 93 feet, height of 120 feet, with a bigness index of 638. The land is owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. This tree is special due to its size, age and the tree is majestic, photos do not do it justice. The Tree is located in Arkansas County on US Fish and Wildlife property. Think of the stories this tree could tell. This tree likely survived the logging in the past from being in a swampy location.
Lone Hill National Champion Eastern Redcedar – Coffee County, GA
the Lone Hill United Methodist Church National Champion Eastern Redcedar, is as strong as it is sturdy, lifting the spirits of those who have come into contact with its encompassing stature in the cemetery that traces its history to it first known burial in 1848.
Through the years the tree has been featured in such varied publications as the Douglas Enterprise, Smithsonian magazine, Janisse Ray’s book Wild Card Quilt, and the Coffee Historical Society’s Coffee Chronicles. Those visiting will witness a majestic tree that has nurtured and sheltered generations of the faithful.
Noble Knight Oak – Tampa, FL
This oak is thought to be one of the oldest living trees in the city. This tree honors the legacy of Peter O. Knight, a historic American military leader. This tree not only serves as an honor to the Knight family, but is also an honor to behold. This live oak is nothing short of magnificent. The gothic style tree stands proud and unwavering conveying a sense of strength throughout the years of its residency. However, the beauty does not take away from the surrounding grove members, but instead adds a sense of prestige and dignity to its immediate environment. The historical significance exemplifies a truly worthy specimen.
Devil’s Walking Stick – Decatur, GA
There are many fascinating aspects to the biology of the Devil’s Walking Stick. The sharp thorns found on the trunk, branches, and leaves, give the Devil’s Walking Stick its common name. The spikes on the bark are used to fight off hungry herbivores. However, in metro Atlanta, this tree receives nothing but love and admiration! Although not inviting to the touch, it still welcomes those in search of summer shade and company. The Devil’s Walking Stick resides in Decatur’s Woodlands Garden. This native tree with giant compound leaves welcomes all visitors and pollinators.
That Tree – Platteville, WI
That Tree is a famous Bur Oak located across from 1276 Airport Road in Platteville, WI. 53818. That Tree is 53′ tall. The canopy is 75′ wide. This tree is special because it has survived almost 200 years residing in the middle of a Wisconsin cornfield. This tree is featured in the book That Tree by Mark Hirsch. Hirsch photographed this tree every day for a year resulting in a book that chronicles a year in the life of the tree. He has continued to photograph the tree and posts the photos on his Facebook page. This tree has been featured in news articles and broadcast stories by some of the most noted media outlets in the world. It has also been featured by The Sierra Club and most recently by The Nature Conservancy. Plus, it is a really cool tree.
Rosa the Ponderosa Pine – Black Hills, SD
Rosa the Ponderosa Pine lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is 24” diameter at breast height, and stands roughly 60 feet tall. From a seedling in 1281, Rosa is 738 years old and has provided a multitude of information on historic climatic patterns from the 13th century through the 20th century. Rosa’s location is not disclosed to protect her from vandalism. She was sprayed with insecticides to protect her from the worst of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) epidemic that began in the Black Hills in 1997 and is still active. Frank Carroll has worked closely with Rosa during his time with the Forest Service and is intimately familiar with her value as a living treasury of our history. Shelley Deisch, State of South Dakota Division of Wildlife, first cored Rosa in the 1980s as a graduate student working on a climate study that used tree rings as indicators of drought.
Rosa is a living testament to how tough trees can be and provides important insight into all of the environmental factors trees must deal with to survive. Rosa embodies the American spirit of resiliency and enduring tough obstacles and adverse circumstances. We have a lot to learn from this great American tree that has been there through all of our history as a Nation and for so much of history of the Black Hills. Rosa watched General Custer ride through the Hills in 1874. She witnessed Crazy Horse and so many other heroes of the Hills through time. She stands today, a silent but watchful sentry over centuries of forest management, wildfires, insect attacks, and climate change.
Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer specializing in the home design, construction, and tool industries. He has been involved in the trades for over 15 years as both a contractor and a commercial building mechanic.