The photo above was taken in November of 2017 of the Angel Oak on John's Island, just south of Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Tony Rice.) The tree is estimated to be 400-500 years old although some contend it is closer to 1500 years old. Age aside, It stands 66.5 feet tall and measures 28 feet in circumference. The shade it produces covers 17,200 square feet and the longest branch is 187 feet long.
The oak derives its name from the estate of Justus Angel and his wife, Martha Waight Tucker Angel. Local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree. In September of 2018, Allstate Insurance built a TV commercial around the tree called "Still Standing" saluting the strength of the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence.
Watching it now brings tears to my eyes.
Another stand of oak tress closer to home is located at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC. The oak trees of "Live Oak Allee" were planted in the 1700's when the property consisted of 4 rice plantations. A visit to Brookgreen Gardens is worth the trip any time of year.
My bottom line is that you can't help but gaze at them in awe. The grand live oak trees that align the highways, back roads and parks across this area take my breath away. I often find myself wondering... How old is that tree? Did that grand white oak tree in the woods live through the Civil War? A white oak can live up to 300 years. So it's possible.
I have learned how to figure out the age of a tree and wanted to share it with you. (You know, one of those nerdy trivia things you can now do on a hike to impress friends and grand children!)
You can easily calculate the age of any tree including a white oak if you know its circumference and growth factor.
All trees grow at different rates and I have supplied the growth rate factors of various trees below.
Here's how to do tree age math:
Using a tape measure, find the circumference of the tree (starting four feet off the ground). Divide the circumference by 3.14 (pi) to find the diameter. Now multiply the growth factor by the diameter.
Here are growth factor rates for some common trees:
Silver Maple, Pin Oak, Linden 3.5:
River Birch 4.0:
American Elm, Green Ash, Red Oak 4.5:
Black Walnut, Red Maple 5.0:
Sugar Maple, White Birch, White Oak, Black Cherry 7.0:
So there you have it. When you wonder how old that tree is in your yard, now you know how to calculate it.
And when you visit the Low Country, get in touch. We'll go take a look at some Live Oaks, up close. That's the measure of a good day in South Carolina.
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