The effects of flooding on live oaks


In general, live oaks have a high tolerance to storms and floods. But I’ve received questions from several friends concerned about how the recent flooding in Louisiana might affect their live oaks. Most centenarian (100 years +) live oaks in Louisiana have weathered multiple storms in its lifetime. The Seven Sisters Oak in Mandeville, being the oldest live oak in the South, has probably weathered hundreds of storms and several floods.I asked several arborists/ horticulturists who I know and whose opinions I respect to provide some answers about the effects of flooding on live oaks.  Here’s what they had to say:

Carefully watch the oaks: Arborist Jim Foret (The Tree Guy) from St. Martinville, teaches at ULL and has years of experience with old live oaks in the Acadiana area. He says that short-term flooding, as we’ve experienced recently, is likely to have little effect on healthy live oaks. Jim advises to watch your trees closely after the floodwater subsides to see if they begin dropping leaves, which could be an indication of root damage. If there’s indication of root damage, the tree may require mulch and a microbial boost (mycorrhiza). He believes in this case that the oaks can pretty much take care of themselves with minimum help from human caregivers.

Help the roots dry: An article by Dan Gill, the Times Picayune garden columnist and LSU AgCenter horticulturist says to “remove all mulches to allow the soil to dry out more rapidly. Then replace them. (read the full article below)

Speaking of mulch: Church Point arborist Bob Thibodaux (Bob’s Tree Preservation) who has worked with oak live oaks for decades believes that live oaks prefer mulch made from other live oaks. He manufactures and uses an “eco-mulch” made from local vegetation composed mostly of live oak compost and recommends it over other types of mulches.

Bruce Verdun, another arborist from Gray (Organicure) who is especially interested in the care and maintenance of old oaks, says that ideally you should have a skilled arborist look at and evaluate the impact of flood waters fairly soon after a flood. Each tree is different he emphasizes, and each needs to be examined and evaluated individually.

Pollutants in the waters? One serious problem with flooding is contaminants in the water that might stay in the soil and slowly affect the health of the tree.  A soil sample can help determine the amount of pollution and what needs to be done to rebalance soil post-flood. Contact your local LSU agent or an arborist to have a soil sample evaluation.

Allen Owings from the LSU Ag Center in Hammond (where they had floods) passed along an article by Dan Gill published right after the flooding. I’ll quote it in its entirely.

08/16/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – Root damage through drowning or root rot is the greatest danger to landscape plants caused by flooding. And even if a property didn’t have standing water, it likely has been saturated. And the longer the soil stays saturated, the more damage occurs.

Plant roots get the oxygen they need from air spaces in the soil, said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. When these spaces are filled with water, roots are deprived of the oxygen and may drown. “Initially, the roots stop functioning properly,” Gill said. “When the bright sun comes out, it’s not unusual for plants to wilt because the roots quit absorbing water.”

If floodwaters remain for several days, shrubs and herbaceous plants may be extensively damaged or killed. “Carefully assess shrubs that may appear dead,” Gill said. Scrape the bark in several areas. Green tissue under the bark indicates the shrubs are still alive and may recover.

Don’t be too hasty in removing landscape plants. Some plants that appear dead may begin to send out new growth a few weeks after the water recedes, Gill said. But shrubs that show no green tissue below the bark are likely dead. Floodwaters carry silt and debris that may be deposited on lawns as well as low-growing plants, such as shrubs, ground covers, annuals and perennials. It’s important to remove the debris as soon as possible, using a rake to remove most of the larger material and then a hose to wash off the remainder.

Also remove all mulches to allow the soil to dry out more rapidly. Then replace them. Even if fruit and vegetable plants are still alive, do not consume any fruits, vegetables or herbs that were or could have been touched by flood waters, Gill said. Remove and discard any produce.

You may, however, eat any fruit from trees, shrubs and vines in the future. And you may also generally eat the new growth of herbs and vegetables produced after the floodwaters recede. If a lawn is damaged or killed, a new lawn can be established or an existing lawn can be repaired using sod, plugs or seed.

Hope this helps – Best, Bill


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One small step for live oaks…

Evergreen old alley panorama #5

Quarters alley, Evergreen Plantation, Edgard, LA

Dear blog friends,
I’ve been off the page for a while. Busy, of course, photographing oaks mostly, exploring the Bayou Lafourche area around our home outside of Thibodaux and along the Mississippi River Road plantation country, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Laura front view 2

Three oaks, Laura Plantation, Vacherie, LA

This blog entry will feature a few of the photos I’ve made from those excursions, but mainly I wanted to make an announcement. I was just awarded a grant last Friday from the Lafourche Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau to create a self-guided driving tour of the historic live oak trees along Bayou Lafourche. The project will consist primarily of:
1) creating way-marker signs near the two major highways flanking the bayou that will contain numbers and a tour logo;
2) photographing the trees, and,
3) writing text for a Live Oak Tour brochure and website about the history of the oaks and their location in relation to the history and settlement of Lafourche Parish.
The self-guided tour will enable visitors to explore the area and learn of its history through the location of its historic oaks.

Two oaks entry road study 6 copy

Two oaks, entrance road, Rienzi Plantation, Thibodaux, LA

I’ll be posting photos and text here on my blog, as well as on the Lafourche Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) blog, and a special CVB website throughout the duration of the project.

Felicity study 1_pano

Felicity Plantation oak and main house, Vacherie, LA

My goal is to install 50 way-marker signs and all of the related content within the next 9 to 12 months.  Phase two (in 2017) of this project will be to launch an annual symposium in Thibodaux on live oak care and conservation — to bring all of the best scientific minds together to share information on how to keep live oaks healthy longer.

I’m very excited about this project and feel it could be one small step for the future of live oak conservation in Lafourche Parish, and one large step for live oak conservation across the state.





Revisiting the Lorenzo Dow Oak


Lorenzo Dow Oak in the rain, Grangeville Masonic Lodge grounds, 35′-8″ girth

Since moving to Bayou Lafourche last December, I regularly consult with the two old oaks in our front yard over photographic work matters. (Cyndi likes to say that I left the corporate world and now I’m employed full-time by the oak trees.) Crazy? Maybe. But the ideas I get when talking to the old oaks are at least as good as those from some of the human supervisors I’ve had over the years.

Last Saturday morning, after checking in with the front-yard oaks and the weather app on my phone, we decided to brave the impending thunderstorms and make a two-hour drive to Grangeville, LA, a postage-stamp-sized town near the Amite River just north and west of Pine Grove. Our objective was to re-photograph the Lorenzo Dow Oak (see my previous blog entry), a 35-foot-plus girth oak located on the grounds of the historic Grangeville Masonic Lodge.


Lorenzo Dow Oak, panoramic view, study 5

Threatening rain or not, we hit the road and arrived at Grangeville just as the first drops began to fall. I made a flurry of photos, trying to hold my baseball cap over my camera’s wide angle lens to shield it from rain, with a fair amount of success. Since August 2015 when I first photographed the Lorenzo Dow Oak, the Grangeville Masonic Lodge members have cleared away the undergrowth that obscured the trunk and main limbs of the old oak,  revealing the full profile of this huge tree. At 35 ft. 8 in. in girth, this little known oak is tied with the Randall Oak in New Roads as the second largest and oldest of live oaks in Louisiana.


Lorenzo Dow Oak, infrared black and white study 1

An interesting side note about this tree that I discovered after my 2015 visit: The Lorenzo Dow Oak was registered tree #261 with the Live Oak Society (LOS). This was probably sometime after 1963, when the LOS became active again after a dormant period of about 16-17 years. Dr. Edwin Lewis Stephens acted as secretary of the Society until his death in November 1938. At that time, his list of member trees included 57 oaks. In 1945, Stanley C. Arthur, executive director of the Louisiana State Museum, assumed responsibility for record keeping, admission of new tree members and continued measurements of tree growth.

In the  Live Oak Society Bulletin, a hand-typed newsletter he produced, he added to Dr. Stephens’ registry another 62 oaks for a total of 119 trees including their names, locations, measurements and sponsors. In that list of 119 member trees, there is an oak named the Dr. E.O. Powers Oak, also located in Grangeville. So, it’s possible the Lorenzo Dow Oak was in the first 119 oaks on the Society registry, but was renamed and re-registered 20 years or more later.

In 1957, the Louisiana Garden Club Federation assumed record keeping responsibility for the Society; and since then the secretary/chairmanship and record keeping responsibilities have passed on continually, slowing adding to the now 8,000-plus roster of senior and junior member live oaks.


Posted in 30-something project, Historic live oak trees, Live oak (Quercus virginiana), Lorenzo Dow Oak, Oldest living live oaks, Top 100 Oaks - Live Oak Society pub. 2003 | Leave a comment

The “Lone Oak” – visiting an old friend


The “Lone Oak” or Maryland Farms Oak, St. Gabriel, Louisiana, circa 1984

Sometime around 1984, when I had just begun using a 4″ x 5″ view camera and black-and-white sheet film to photograph live oaks, I stumbled across an oak with a beautiful, iconic shape that I called the “lone oak.” I didn’t know if it had a name and so just dubbed it lone oak because that’s pretty much how it had grown for who knows how many years – standing in the middle of several hundred acres of grazing pasture, downriver from the White Castle ferry landing near St. Gabriel. It’s one of the trees that I’ve visited and revisited over three decades – always looking to make an even more accurate representation of its personality and to document the progression of its life over time.

It’s a very old and very distinctive oak, with a near perfect mushroom shape – just the way you’d sketch it if someone asked you to draw a live oak tree. It’s the kind of iconic shape that makes Southern live oaks distinguishable from other trees. Its girth is approxmately 25’-6” and its crown spread is nearly 125 feet.

I liked the tree’s shape so much that I’ve used a small silhouette of one of my photographs as a sort of logo for my photography letterhead.  The images I’ve made of the Lone Oak have been well-liked by others as well. It was included in two separate books: Louisiana Live Oak Lore by Ethelyn Orso and Folklife in Louisiana through Photography by Frank DeCaro, and several individuals have purchased prints.


Lone oak with daytime moon, circa spring 1993

To photograph the old tree, I had to hop the barbed wire fence surrounding the pasture with my camera and tripod and then wade through shin-high grass to get within an intimate distance. As is my usual practice when I visit a tree, I will walk a large circle around its perimeter to view it from all sides, looking for a new or different perspective that would emphasize some distinguishing quality. Though with this oak, I quickly settled on one perspective on its east side that seemed to me like the tree was “facing me.”

Some days, I had to wind my way through grazing cows that were scattered about the field in which the tree stood.  On hot humid summer days, those same cows would gather in the shade under the oak – one day in particular there must’ve been upward of 60 to 70 cows lounging in the shadow under its limbs.


Lone oak with cows, circa summer 1991

I visited the lone oak both early and late in the day, comparing the quality of morning and evening light, though I found that cloudy days, when harsh contrasting shadows were minimized, were my favorite. I also visited in different seasons to compare the density of the foliage and see which I felt made for a better image. Sometimes when the weather was less than optimum for a photograph, I would just sit in the oak’s shade (when cows weren’t around) to feel how this place and this tree felt compared with others.


Lone oak with Brahma bull (near the lower left corner), circa fall 1994

On one visit, instead of the usual grazing cows there was a small group of maybe 20 Brahma bulls lounging around in the field. The funny part of this story was that I didn’t realize they were bulls until I was in the middle of them with my large 4×5 view camera on a tripod and bull-fighter-sized dark cloth draped over my shoulder. Luckily, since they were all bulls with no female cows to protect, they didn’t seem the least interested in me and my camera.  But, believe me, I made the picture and left as quickly as I could…


Lone oak with grave headstones, spring 2016

Over the years, I’ve revisited the lone oak many times. At one point around the mid- 1990s, I even researched who owned the land and learned it was the property of the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. I wrote the head of the facility suggesting they register the oak with the Live Oak Society and got a pleasant reply.

Eventually they did register the oak (now it’s named the Maryland Farms Oak) and around 2001, it was enclosed within a fence and became the centerpiece of a cemetery for prison inmates whose bodies were unclaimed by family after their death.

This month was my first visit to the lone oak since the late 1990s and the first time I’d seen the old tree since it became the centerpiece for the new prison cemetery.  It reminded me of a paragraph I wrote for a recent article in the Country Roads magazine:  “In South Louisiana, live oaks are heritage, heirlooms, and history all rolled into one. On the old land maps, oaks mark where one property line ended and another began. They were a point on the horizon at which to aim the blade of a plow or the nose of a tractor. They mark the intersections of crossroads where back roads cross and provide a shady spot for neighbors to park their pickups, pass a plastic thermos cup of chicory coffee, and discuss the weather. Duels were fought and honor won or lost under their bowed limbs. People picnic under them, get married under them, dance the two-step under them, and, finally when the music ends, are laid to rest alongside their massive roots.”


Lone Oak and cemetery, color study, spring 2016

Besides the rows of headstones, little else had changed  about the lone oak on my recent visit, except it has an entirely different ambiance now that it’s part of a cemetery (the Lone Oak Cemetery). There’s a new sense of peace that I didn’t remember on past visits. Stop by and see it someday. It even has its own website.



Posted in Historic live oak trees, Live oak (Quercus virginiana) | 3 Comments

Re-visiting the Seven Sisters Oak

Though I’ve had a couple of other blog posts in the works, I couldn’t leave the 30-something project behind without a nod to the Seven Sisters Oak, the current president of the Live Oak Society and the national champion live oak tree species in the American Forests’ Big Tree Registry. And also a 30-something oak…


Sever Sisters Oak, view from south side of tree.

Cyndi and I took a drive from Bayou Lafourche to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain this weekend to visit the Seven Sisters Oak and make some current photographs for the blog. The sky was overcast, making it possible to get good shadow detail in our photographs; and the recent rains had turned the resurrection fern a lush bright green. (We also made a stop in Ponchatoula to stock up on local strawberries and visit a couple of other local oaks – but more on that later.)

While visiting the tree, we met the current owners, John and Mary Jane Becker. The massive oak (almost 40 feet in circumference) shades much of the front yard of the Becker’s home in the historic neighborhood of Lewisburg, in Mandeville.  In our conversation, Mrs. Becker remarked how the old oak was wearing an abundance of new celery green flowers (catkins), one indication that the centuries-old tree is still healthy and vital. She also said that last year the oak produced a bumper crop of acorns.


Seven Sisters Oak, view toward the Becker’s home.

If you missed our previous blog post on the Seven Sisters, I’ll recap some of its known history (though what we know about the oak dates back less than 100 years and some estimates of the tree’s age put it to more than 1,000 years old).

The Seven Sisters Oak is actually the second live oak to take the status of president of the society. It replaced the society’s first president, the Locke Breaux Oak, after its death from air and water pollution (see my previous posts about the Locke Breaux Oak for details).

For years, the eligibility of the Seven Sisters oak as society member tree was disputed because it was believed to be several separate trees growing together. But in 1976, after inspection by federal foresters, the tree was proven to have a single root system and it was accepted into the society—registered (#200) originally under the name “Doby’s Seven Sisters.” The tree’s first sponsor was the Doby family who owned the property on which the tree is located at that time. Mrs. Carole Hendry Doby was one of seven sisters in her family. The oak was later re-registered (#697) as the Seven Sister’s Oak by it’s next owners, Mr. and Mrs. Milton Seiler.


(A short sidebar: From what I’ve read in other sources, this is an ongoing argument among tree-measuring folks—whether the circumference of a multi-trunk oak can be compared equally to a single-trunk tree. I take a neutral position on this topic. To me they’re all very old oaks, and as such deserve to be considered as cultural, historic and environmental treasures.)


Seven Sisters Oak, view from outside of the oak’s canopy, showing new green catkins.

According to the American Forests’ Big Tree Registry, the Seven Sisters Oak has a crown spread of 139 feet, a circumference of 467 inches (approximately thirty-nine feet) and a height of sixty-eight feet. Its age has been estimated to be somewhere between 500 and 1200 years old.

The Abbot Paul Schaueble Oak – near Covington, LA


Abbot Paul Schaueble Oak

While traveling to Mandeville from Ponchatoula, we stopped in at the St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benenedict, LA., just west of Covington. The abbey grounds are home to four Live Oak Society member trees including the largest, the Abbot Paul Schaueble Oak (#2464), with a girth of approximately 22 feet 10 inches. The tree is named after the Benedictine monk who was the first head of the monastery established in 1889 by a small group of monks from St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana.


Abbot Paul Schaueble Oak, study 2

You’ll see in the photos, that several limbs of the 60 foot-plus tall tree are supported by metal braces. According to the abbey historian, the tree was damaged by a wind storm (and possibly a tornado) that swept through the area in November of 1957. The winds damaged the mid-section of the oak causing a severe split. Instead of cutting the tree down, the split was secured by heavy bolts and limb supports. So far the tree appears to have stabilized.

Note: The abbey was hit hard by rains, winds and flooding last week (3/11/16). That’s why the oak has so few leaves in these photos. The chapel and many of the seminary’s buildings were flooded and clean-up was still underway when we visited their oak.

Posted in 100 Oaks Project oaks - Bill & Cyndi list, 30-something project, Live oak (Quercus virginiana), Oldest living live oaks, Top 100 Oaks - Live Oak Society pub. 2003 | Leave a comment

30-something oaks project – one more installation.

It looks like I’ll be revisiting the 30-something project on and off during 2016, mainly to add a few “stragglers” – oaks that I missed in my original list of possible 30-something-sized trees or others that have turned up since my last entry.  In this post, I’ll feature examples of both.


Marvin McGraw Memorial Oak, study 1

The Marvin McGraw Memorial Oak – This old oak was on the first list I put together of Live Oak Society members that could be in the 30-something category. It is located in Reserve, on the east bank of the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish. It was registered by Maxie and Pete McGraw (#1428) with an estimated girth of 31 feet (my measurement was 27’-6”). I was able to hone in on the tree’s exact location through help from Maxie and Pete’s brother, Marvin, who is the current director of marketing and public relations for the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge.


Marvin McGraw Memorial Oak, black-and-white study

He recalled how when he was a child the old oak tree stood in a grassy pasture in the company of grazing cows and horses. His father Marvin, the oak’s namesake, used to tell the kids that the old oak “was already a large tree when Columbus discovered America.” Marvin (the son) also remembered that there was a very old graveyard near the oak where they would find gravestones and wrought-iron crosses with inscriptions written in French.

When I visited the oak, the graveyard had long ago disappeared. And over the years, the open pasture shrunk steadily as it was parceled up into lawns. I found the oak still growing in a small side yard sandwiched between two homes at the end of a quiet residential street.

The Mike Oak – The Mike Oak is located outside of the entrance gate to Oaklawn Manor, which is just off Irish Bend Road and a few miles above Franklin. On the entrance road onto Oaklawn Drive, the oak is in the lot to the left of the driveway that turns right into the Oaklawn Manor gate house and home.  It is not the most lovely of the many oaks in the grove lining Oaklawn Drive, or of the oaks on the Manor grounds, but it is the largest, with a girth in 2015 of 30 feet.


The Mike Oak, study 1, Oaklawn Manor near Franklin, LA

The land that became Oaklawn Manor Plantation was purchased in 1809 by Irish-born attorney Alexander Porter and it was his Irish ancestry that gave this stretch along Bayou Teche the name “Irish Bend.”Porter served on the Louisiana Supreme Court and also as U.S. Senator representing Louisiana. After his time in the U.S. Senate, Porter retired to Irish Bend and built the Greek Revival home near Franklin that he named Oaklawn Manor Plantation.


Mike Oak, infrared study

After a series of owners and renovations in the 1960s, the Manor was purchased in 1986 by Murphy “Mike” Foster, Jr. and his wife Alice and underwent another restoration. Foster was elected 53rd governor of Louisiana in 1995 and still owns and lives at Oaklawn Manor today.  The home and grounds are open to the public for tours. Call ahead for tour hours (337-828-0434).


The Mike Oak was registered (#3447 in the Live Oak Society registry) by Mr. Foster and his wife.  I’ve met with Mr. Foster on a few occasions when photographing the oaks at Oaklawn. He even gave me a tour of the grounds on his golf cart to point out the many old live oaks on his property.

As a side note, ex-governor Foster is an oak preservationist at heart. He realizes the importance of this iconic tree to the cultural heritage and ecology of the state and has in the past interceded to stop the removal of many old oaks along the Grand Chenier highway (state Hwy. 82). This highway parallels the southern edge of the state between Pecan Island and Cameron. The chenier oaks, though weather beaten and bent, help slow erosion of the delicate coastal ridges throughout the “Chenier Plain,” an area extending roughly from Sabine Lake (west) to Vermillion Bay (east) along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.


Mike Oak, color study 2

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The 30-something oak project Part 7

We’re nearing the end of my original list of live oaks that I compiled with 30-plus-feet girth. In my search I identified approximately 20 live oaks in the Live Oak Society registry that had a stated trunk circumference of 30 feet or more (at 4.5’ off the ground). A few of those were originally mis-measured by their owner/sponsors; so my current list (almost final list) now contains 14 oaks larger than 30 ft. in girth, six oaks with girths of more than 29 ft., and a few more that I’ve yet to locate with girths reportedly larger than 29 ft. (You can see my current list at the end of this blog entry.)

However, I fully suspect to add more oaks to this list in the coming year. In the process of working on this project, we’ve relocated back to Louisiana (I grew up here) to be better able to continue the 100 Oaks Project. Cyndi and I are now living in the old Constant family home outside of Thibodaux where we have a 25’-8” and a 21’-6” oak in the front yard. (The Constants were old family friends of my parents in Thibodaux, and I found their home for rent while photographing the oaks on their property).


Constant/Faucheaux Oak (21′-6″) in foreground; Faucheux Oak in background (25′-8″)

We’ve also made new friends with several garden club groups across the state, including the Lafourche and Terrebonne parish garden clubs and master gardeners group (Cyndi was a master gardener in Texas and is now taking classes to become certified in Louisiana). The Lafourche and Terrebonne groups have been working hard to register old live oaks in their area—we applaud the great work they’ve done.

Now on to the trees…


Grosse Tete Oak, color study 1 (30′-2″)

One of the easiest 30-something oaks to locate is the Grosse Tete Oak. You can spot it on the north side of the I-10 overpass at the Highway 77 Grosse Tete / Rosedale exit. There are several lovely old oaks nearby on the grounds of the Iberville Parish Visitor Center, located on the LA. Hwy. 77 side of the bayou, right near the exit. The Grosse Tete Oak is just south of the Visitor Center.


Grosse Tete Oak, b&w study 2


Grosse Tete Oak, infrared study 3

This grand old tree is number 17 on the list of the 43 charter oaks in the Live Oak Society (or number 22 on their current online list). When listed in Dr. Stephen’s Louisiana Conservation Review article of 1934, it had a girth of 22 ft. 6 in. Our most recent measurement in September 2015 shows it with a girth of 30 ft. 2 in.

The Grosse Tete Oak’s original sponsor was Mrs. Lelia Barrow Mays. Both “Barrow” and “Mays” are family names that are significant in local history.

Grosse Tete is a small village with a current population of 647 (according to their website). Much of the village is spread along a two-mile stretch of businesses and homes on both sides of Bayou Grosse Tete (which means “Big Head” in French). Local legend (and the Grosse Tete website) states that the name came about from a big-headed Choctaw Indian who lived and hunted in the area when it was settled by French Acadians. Before the railroad, the bayou was the main route of transportation through this pastoral region of lush green pastures and sugarcane fields.


The Mays Oak, #6 of 43 Live Oak Society charter member trees.

The Mays Oak (30′-11″) is number six (6) of the original 43 charter members of the Live Oak Society. It’s located just a short drive up LA Hwy. 77 from Grosse Tete on the grounds of Live Oaks Plantation. The plantation home is on the east side of  Hwy. 77, facing Bayou Grosse Tete, and  is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It’s a private home and not open to the public.

According to the KnowLa website (an online encyclopedia of Louisiana sponsored by the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities), Live Oaks Plantation was built in 1838 by Charles H. Dickinson. He and his 14-year-old bride, Anna Turner, moved to Louisiana from Tennessee in 1828, almost two dozen years after his father died in a duel with Andrew Jackson in 1806. With the help of slave artisans, he built the two and one-half story plantation house of pegged local cypress and bricks made from clay from the area.


Mays Oak study with brick tomb.

The historic oak is located to the left of the plantation home (viewed from the highway) and next to an unusual brick tomb and brick church that was once used by plantation slaves.  Later the church served as a schoolhouse and Episcopal chapel (both structures can be seen in the color photo above, and the tomb can be seen in the black and white photo to the left).

The brick tomb contains iron caskets cast in the form of a human body. The Smithsonian Institution dated the caskets in the tomb to circa 1830.

For more information about Live Oaks Plantation, go to  (a great resource on historic info about Louisiana) or look for Karen Kingsley’s book, Buildings of Louisiana published by Oxford University Press, 2003.

My current list of 30-somthing-size live oaks
1. Seven Sisters Oak – Lewisburg / Mandeville; 39’-10”
2. Randall Oak – New Roads; 35’-8”
3. Edna Szymoniak Live Oak – LSU Hammond Research Station; 35’-6”
4. Lorenzo Dow Oak – near Pine Grove, LA; 35’ 8”
5. La Belle Colline Oak – Between Sunset and Carencro; 34’
6. The Martin Tree – Gonzales, LA, Ascension Parish; 34’
7. The Governor’s Oak – Baton Rouge; 33’-3”
8. Lastrapes Oak (Seven Brothers Oak) – Washington, LA; 32’-3 (largest section)
9. Rebekah Oak – Breaux Bridge; RJ Dermenstein; 32′
10. Boudreaux Friendship Oak – Lafayette; 31’-10”
11. Lagarde Oak – Luling; 30’-11”
11. Mays Oak – Live Oaks Plantation, near Rosedale; 30’-11”
12. Blanchet Oak – Lafayette; 30’ 7”
13. Grosse Tete Oak – Bayou Grosse Tete; 30’-2”
14. Etienne de Bore’ Oak (also called the Tree of Life and the Monkey Hill Oak) – Audubon Park, NOLA; 30’

29 foot-plus oaks
15. Josephine A. Stewart Oak – Oak Alley Plantation; 29’-11”
16. Hudson Oak – Hudson Oaks home, Prairieville, LA; 29′-9″
17. Grenier Oak – above Thibodaux on Hwy. 1 (still unconfirmed identification); 29’-9”
18. Stonaker Oak – New Roads, LA; 29” 6”
19. St. John’s Cathedral Oak – Lafayette; 29’-6”
20. Mr. Mike Oak – Oaklawn Manor, near Franklin ; 29′

Yet to locate and photograph
22. Ole Oakie – St. Martinville; 32’-2” (Kennyson Ambrose sponsor)
23. Grandpere Oak – Barataria Bayou, Jefferson Parish; reportedly 29’-4”
24. J. H. Lewis Oak  – St. Louis Plantation, Whiteville, LA; 29’+






Posted in 30-something project, Oldest living live oaks | 2 Comments