After centuries of shipbuilding with timber, there aren't very many old trees left in South Carolina - which is partially what makes this Angel Oak outside of Charleston so special. That and the fact that the arboreal behemoth is said to be up to 1,400 years old and the oldest of its kind east of the Mississippi River. Located on John's Island, Angel Oak is 66.5 feet tall, 22.5 feet around, and it provides an extraordinary 17,200 square feet of shade!
A Southern live oak named after the people who used to own the property on which the tree stands, Angel Oak was most likely a robust sapling more than 1,000 years before the Mayflower landed in Cape Cod, though there are some disputes about the tree’s age. While some say the tree is only 500 years old, the Live Oak Society lists it at 1,400 year’s old.
The longest limb is 89 feet long, others have merged like roots with the ground, and wire cables are required to keep many of the massive limbs from crumbling under their own weight. No wimpy tree, Angel Oak has survived hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and humans, and yet manages to retain its verdant stature. Managed by the City of Charleston, it is a hugely popular and humbling tourist attraction that has its very own park – although it is threatened by encroaching developments.
While baldcypress trees throughout the south are said to be many hundreds of years older than Angel Oak, its incredible girth and canopy spread of at least 160 feet in diameter makes it a venerable sight indeed. Kudos to Charleston for keeping it alive.
Images © Tafline Laylin