Antebellum Oaks of the South

Having combed plantations, parks and graveyards across the South for decades, we have grown to love live oaks (Quercus virginiana). So you can imagine our chagrin when a fellow Native Tree Society (NTS) member referred to our beloved oaks in a less than flattering way. NTS was mostly about measuring and chronicling tall trees. That would soon change!

Though live oaks grow horizontally to avoid the brunt of storms along our coast, having scaled many a behemoth in our day, we suspected they were larger than assumed. We fired off a photo to NTS president Will Blozan (Black Mountain, NC); he inhaled the bait and the climb was on! Dr. Robert Van Pelt and other arborists joined us in Charleston (Middleton Place), SC, in February, 2004.

Bob was awestruck to find the Middleton’s volume at almost 5,000 cubic feet; making it the largest known, officially-measured tree in the East! Though it has since lost about a third of its mass from a storm, we doubt our beloved oaks will be so slighted again. Enjoy the climb in the slideshow below (photos copyright Randy Cyr).

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