Sometimes you just have to see something with your own eyes from different angles before to you understand how amazing it is. If you live along or visit the southern coast of the United States you will see Southern Live Oaks (Quercus Virginiana). These are venerable icons of the old south, lining roads and driveways often providing complete canopies that filter sunlight like massive green stain glass windows. On Johns Island, outside of Charleston, there is a Live Oak that is thought to be between 300-400 years old. Named “The Angel Oak” because it was on property once owned by Martha and Justin Angel, the tree is thought to be the largest example of the species east of the Mississippi River.
The Angel Oak is over 65 feet tall, 25 feet in diameter, with its longest branch running over 90 feet away from the trunk. That limb has a circumference of over 11 feet. It is rigged with cables and metal rods to support some of the heavier branches. It has a shade area that covers over 17,000 square feet.
I had the chance to visit it in July while vacationing in the low country of South Carolina. You really don’t get an idea of the immense size of the tree until you walk around and under it. The branches run from the main trunk in all directions with several of the lower branches actually going underground for several feet before emerging above the surface. Sunlight filtered through the canopy throws light and shadow along the branches revealing Spanish moss, ferns and other plant life living off this ancient tree. It is really an amazing thing to explore and behold.
If you are in the Low Country of South Carolina, this is worth an hour or two of your time.