A Remarkable southern red oak

Tree Information
Common Name: southern red oak
Scientific name: Quercus falcata
Category: Old tree
Notes: The southern red oak in question is located at Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County, on property given to Longwood University by the owner, Mary Farley Ames Lee, in her will. During her lifetime, classes were held on the property, particularly featuring field work in botany and ornithology. In addition, Longwood students conducted archeological explorations on the property. The University maintains Hull Springs Farm as a research center and meeting facility. In 1995, when Mrs. Lee and her husband, Al Lee, were still alive, the magnificent Southern Red Oak standing in front of their home was aged by Thelma Dalmas, then a member of the science faculty at Longwood. A core sample was taken with a tree borer, and rings in the sample were carefully counted under a dissecting microscope. It was determined that the tree was at least 350 years old, and most probably over 400. Compression of the rings toward the center of the sample made an absolutely accurate count impossible. The Lees erected a plaque on the tree in 1997 giving the estimated date of 1595 as the origin of the tree. While this is just a ball park figure, the tree most probably sprouted somewhere between the late 1500s and mid 1600s. It has certainly seen an immense change in America during its lifetime. To commemorate the age of the tree, Ms. Dalmas composed the following, which was framed and presented to the Lees, who hung it in the foyer of their home. The Hull Springs Red Oak 1619 Along a tributary of the Potomac An acorn was buried by a squirrel It was the year that the first elected assembly In the New World was convened at Jamestown. 1649 The acorn had become a sapling And in England Charles I was beheaded. There was an exodus of Cavaliers to the colony As the young tree sent its roots deep into Virginia soil. 1699 Now a mature oak, providing mast for turkey and deer, The diameter was more than a foot wide, When the capital of the colony Was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg. 1776 Growing more slowly now, the oak in ageless fashion, Spread its branches in search of sunlight As the winds of change swept the New World And the Patriots fought for independence. 1814 Now a huge tree, almost 200 years old, The Red Oak stood silent witness As British ships sailed the Potomac Destroying Nomini Church and burning Washington. 1863 A bit of shrapnel, perhaps a bullet poorly aimed, May have struck the graceful oak When armies struggled in the field In the land of Lee and Jackson. 1920 Now at 300 years, the Red Oak was a giant, Its heavy crown a vast array of leaves An in Virginia, time moved slowly On the Northern Neck, the quiet place between two rivers. 1995 Three hundred and seventy-five years old, The Hull Springs Red Oak is an ancient tree And yet it grows and flourishes still, Providing welcome shade to Al and Mary Farley Lee. While this tree is nominated based on its age, it could just as easily have been nominated because of its beauty. Sitting on a promontory in front of the majestic Big House, which overlooks tributaries of the Potomac, the tree is a splendid feature in its landscape. The tree was measured this summer. The circumference of the tree at dbh is 208.5 inches. Dividing the circumference by 3.14, the diameter of 66.40 inches (or 1.68656 meters) is derived. The photograph of the tree taken this summer, includes an individual who is about 5 ft. 7 in. for perspective.
Best time to photograph: Spring or Fall, early morning or late afternoon.
Nominator: Dr. Carolyn Wells
Location of Tree
County/City: Westmoreland
Name of tree owner: Longwood University
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southern red oak Identification

 

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