The Tree

 If you have followed my amblings for awhile, you will know that trees are some of my favorite things.  I’ve been blessed to have seen one of the oldest stands of Lebanon cedars, the Sherman and Grant sequoias, and several stands of the massive coast redwoods—including the redwood you drive through.

But for all that, I have to say that the most charming of all big trees I’ve seen is the Angel Oak outside of Charleston SC, known locally as “the Tree.” My son Greg and I saw, videographed, and photographed it from almost every angle a few days ago.  It was one of the “targets” we were aiming at for this spring’s photo shoot in the coastal lowlands of  the Palmetto State.

What makes it so fascinating is that, unlike the redwoods that allow access only to their  massive trunks, the Angel Oak lets you wander amid its most impressive branches—literally!  It gives you the sensation of walking through a fossilized mutant octopus.

Following is the description of the tree from Wikipedia.  The photos are mine (Greg’s much larger and more impressive images will be showcased later.)

The Angel Oak is a Southern live oak tree located in Angel Oak Park, in Charleston, South Carolina, on Johns Island, one of South Carolina’s Sea Islands. It is estimated to be in excess of 1500 years old, stands 65 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and shades with its crown an area of 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2). Its widest crown spread point-to-point is 180 ft, which is longer than any other live oak in the country. Its longest limb is 105 feet (32 m) in length.

The Angel Oak is thought to be one of the oldest living organisms east of the Mississippi River. Angel Oak stands on part of Abraham Waight’s 1717 land grant. The oak derives its name from the Angel estate, although local folklore told stories of ghosts of former slaves would appear as angels around the tree.  The tree has become a significant tourist attraction.

It has survived countless hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and human interference. Angel Oak was damaged severely during Hurricane Hugo in 1989 but has since recovered.

Acorns from the Angel Oak have grown to produce authentic direct-offspring trees. Live oaks generally remain short in proportion to their outward growth.