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The "Fairchild Oak", a 400-500 yr old Southern Live Oak

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Saturday I visited Bulow Creek State Park.It is northeast of Orlando between Ormond Beach and Flagler Beach. There is a huge Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana), estimated to be 400-500 years old. It is called the Fairchild Oak, named in honor of David Fairchild, the famous botanist and plant explorer.

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wow

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I'm looking at this large Oak, and I have to say, My grandmother has a bigger one--it's not even that close. I need to put up photos, but never thought to since it's not a palm! :lol: That Oak is pretty big though...

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Old Southern Live Oaks are one of my favorite trees. Heres a big one here at Leu Gardens, appx 200 yrs old

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I wonder how far the roots run...

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That's pretty amazing Eric. Have you been to Highland Hammock State Park? The oaks there are supposed to be 1000 years old.

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The Live Oak is a tree with the similar character of the large banyan trees.A majestic presence to experience. I have seen similar sized Live Oaks at a friend's hunting lease near Melbourne but West. There are eight of similar size and grow on top of Indian Burial mounds. You can only access them in them at the top of the dry season ( May). They are in an area that constitutes the beginning headwaters of the St. Johns River. The St. Johns is one of the only Rivers in the world that flows North.

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I est. mine out front to be 300+ then.

WOW! :drool:

The indians were campin' out under mine! :mrlooney:

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I too love these trees. A live oak just says South to me. That and a pine forest remind me so much of growing up in north Florida. I have fond memories of climbing in old oaks and hanging out on the branches for hours on end, curled up in a notch with a book and wasting away a summer afternoon. Of swinging from a rope swing out over a spring and ending up in the cold water. Of picking up acorns and eating them. Of looking for our hogs in the oak groves.

There is one in Jacksonville called the Treaty Oak that is about the size of the one Eric showed. And the Cummer Gallery garden has several in it. It is along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. Many brides have had their pictures taken around those oaks.

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Those are some impressively large live oaks, and the trunks look so different from our native Coast Live Oaks, (Quercus agrifolia) here in northern California, which can get just as large but without the Tillandsia usenoides. I just read on another site that the Tillandsia usenoides might harbor chiggers if you touch it? Is that a real concern throughout the south? I was only familiar with chiggers as a problem in tall grass back in the midwest, as we don't have such things here in northern California.

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No question that Spanish Moss harbors chiggers that will lay in deeply on the unwitting. The uninitiated will become drawn to it's out of the ordinary look and become overly "can't wait to get my hands on it". Several hours later they will understand that it was not a good move.Chiggers in Spanish Moss in North and Central Florida are somewhat analogous to Sand Fleas at the Beach in early Spring in South Florida. You are not sure what hit you but it is more than rather unpleasant.

The Oaks in Northern California are great sights. One of my favorite spots is Carmel and those Oaks are unworldly.

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I walked some of the trail in the oak's vicinity, but missed it. I also didn't have the camera. The forest has the largest trees (other than remnant bald cypress) that I've seen in peninsular Florida. Of course it's not much of a region for big trees.

The area had sugar plantations during the British, second Spanish and pre-Seminole War American periods. That must have meant a big demand for firewood. Quite possibly the planters preferred to cut pines.

It's apparently impossible to date live oaks. Two large ones in my Jacksonville back yard were definitely fifty years old. The Fairchild tree is definitely much older. Live oaks don't usually have high canopies (inland, southern magnolias will grow up under them, go straight up, and develop canopies above the live oak. Sweet gums can do the same. So, according to Dr. Putz at the University of Florida, live oaks must need periodic low-intensity ground fires to keep those other hardwoods at bay. He thinks northern Florida is losing its live oaks.

You can run into chiggers anywhere. I doubt that tillandsia is a special magnet. During a May drought somewhere around 1901, a Spanish moss mattress factory in Jacksonville caught fire. Bits of flaming moss flew through the downtown area, setting everything on fire, other than the statue atop a column in the central square. Sort of a dress rehearsal for the San Francisco fire, which left the Union Square column intact. A prominent Jacksonville architect thought of moving to SF, but didn't.

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