10 Famous Trees in the U.S.

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Many people have fond memories related to trees. Maybe as a child you had a treehouse or a tire swing in a giant cypress in your yard. Or maybe you had an outdoor wedding beneath the canopy of a majestic oak. It’s not necessary to be an arborist to appreciate trees. That love seems to be (pardon the expression) deeply rooted in the human psyche; many world cultures and religions have a “tree of life” in their mythology. Here is a look at some of the most famous — and beloved — trees around the U.S.


10. Oklahoma City Survivor Tree

An American elm tree that survived the Oklahoma City bombing only yards away became a centerpiece of the national memorial. © BKL

The horrific Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 killed 168 and injured hundreds more. Among the survivors: an American elm tree so close to the blast zone authorities initially planned to cut it down to retrieve evidence from its branches. Instead, it became a centerpiece of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, with an inscription reading: “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.” Over the past 20 years, thousands of seedlings from this tree have been planted all around the U.S.


9. Endicott Pear Tree

The Endicott pear tree is the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America. © Joseph D. Postman

Located in Danvers, Mass., the Endicott pear tree is cited as the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America, dating to around 1630.


8. Treaty Oak

Austin’s Treaty Oak made a miraculous recovery after a vandal poisoned it in 1989. © Mark Stevens

How many trees receive hundreds of “Get Well” cards when they are sick? The 500-year-old Treaty Oak in Austin, Texas, received well wishes from around the country in 1989 after being poisoned by a vandal (he got nine years in prison for the malicious act). The Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) made a miraculous recovery after the incident. Hundreds of years ago the Treaty Oak served as a meeting spot for local Native American tribes; folklore tells of Texas legends Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston also making history under the tree. It’s worth noting there are a number of “treaty trees” around the U.S. Back in the days before air conditioning, what better place to meet to hammer out an agreement ceasing hostilities than under a giant shade tree?


7. Angel Oak

Charleston’s Angel Oak shades a massive area of more than 17,000 square feet. © Danny Boy via Flickr

Located on Johns Island near Charleston, S.C., the Angel Oak isn’t that tall, standing only 67 feet tall, but its branches shade more than 17,000 square feet. While some arborists contend the tree could be up to 1,500 years old, it’s more likely 400 to 500 years old.


6. 9/11 Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree, seen here blooming in spring, barely survived the destruction of September 11th, and is today part of the 9/11 Memorial © Ed via Flickr

This Callery pear tree was badly damaged during the 9/11 attacks and the then-8-foot-tall tree was not expected to survive. But after being nursed back to health, the tree thrived. In 2010, the 30-foot-tall tree was replanted at the National Sept. 11 Memorial.


5. General Grant Tree

The General Grant stands out against the Milky Way. © Justin Kern

For many years this tree in Kings Canyon National Park reigned as the largest tree in the world (by volume) until surpassed by the General Sherman tree in Sequoia NP. Standing 267.4 feet tall, it’s only about 7 feet shorter than the more famous General Sherman Tree.


4. Emancipation Oak

The Emancipation Oak in Hampton, Va., is a treasured landmark on the Hampton University campus. © Jason Portal

This Southern live oak in Hampton, Va., earned its nickname in 1863, when members of the local black community gathered to hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. Today the Emancipation Oak is a prominent feature on the campus of Hampton University, one of the nation’s most prominent historically black colleges.


3. Methuselah

A tree similar to Methuselah in California’s Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. © Wilson

For more than 50 years, this bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) in California’s White Mountains was regarded as the oldest tree, and the oldest non-clonal organism, in the world. It’s almost 4,850 years old. But the recent discovery nearby of another, as-yet-unnamed tree more than 5,060 years old knocked Methuselah out of the top spot. The exact location of both trees has not been revealed, for obvious reasons.


2. Lone Cypress

The Lone Cypress has been described as the most photographed tree in the world. © Nagarajan Kanna

Just one of the stunning sights on the picturesque 17-mile drive between Monterey and Carmel, Calif., the Lone Cypress has been described as the most photographed tree in the world. It also serves as the logo for the Pebble Beach Golf Links.


1. General Sherman Tree

The giant sequoia General Sherman is the largest tree, by volume, in the world. © m01229 via Flickr

There are taller and older trees in the U.S., but the General Sherman is the largest tree in the world, as measured by volume. The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) measures 274.9 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 14 feet, giving it a volume of 52,500 cubic feet. More than 2,000 years old, this massive tree is the featured attraction in California’s Sequoia National Park.


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