The Mighty Oaks

©Dawne M. Dunton

Myrtle Beach, United States

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Quercus virginiana, also known as the southern live oak, is a normally evergreen oak tree native to the southeastern United States. Though many other species are loosely called live oak, the southern live oak is particularly iconic of the Old South.

Depending on the growing conditions, live oaks vary from the shrubby to large and spreading: typical open-grown trees reach 15 meters (45 feet) in height, but may span nearly 50 meters. Their lower limbs often sweep down towards the ground before curving up again. They can grow at severe angles, and Native Americans used to bend saplings over so that they would grow at extreme angles, to serve as trail markers.
The branches frequently support other plant species such as rounded clumps of ball moss, thick drapings of Spanish moss, resurrection fern, and parasitic mistletoe.
The southern live oak has a deep tap-root that anchors it when young and eventually develops into an extensive and widespread root system. This, along with its low center of gravity and other factors, makes the southern live oak extremely resistant to strong sustained winds, such as those seen in hurricanes.

The Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak tree. Located in Mandeville, Louisiana, it is estimated to be up to 1,500 years old with a trunk that measures 38 feet (11.6 meters). This oak is also the National Champion on the National Register of Big Trees and the Champion Oak of Louisiana according to the Louisiana Forestry Association. The owner who first named the tree was Carole Hendry Doby, who was one of seven sisters. There are seven sets of branches leading away from the center trunk. The Seven Sisters survived a near direct hit from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
The “Seven Sisters Oak”, formerly known as “Doby’s Seven Sisters” is the current president of the Live Oak Society, a status awarded to it by being the largest live oak registered by the society.

The Angel Oak Tree is a Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) located in Angel Oak Park on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina. The Angel Oak Tree is estimated to be in excess of 500 years old, stands 66.5 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet (1,600 m2). From tip to tip Its longest branch distance is 187 ft.
The tree stands on land that was part of Abraham Waight’s 1717 land grant.
The oak derives its name from the estate of Justis and Martha Angel, although local folklore told stories of ghosts of former slaves would appear as angels around the tree.

These are my most favorite trees. They are so mighty and beautiful!!

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