Big trees seem to fascinate and almost mesmerize us. They bring wonderment as we surmise how old it is and what it has "seen" through its life. Here are some of my favorites.
No words can describe what I felt when I saw my first giant sequoia tree in California's Sequoia National Park. They are all grand, but the grandest of all is the General Sherman tree. It is the largest (by volume) tree in the world and is estimated to be 2,300 – 2,700 years old. WOW!
Often big trees are not stately, but rather appear ragged and battered. After all, trees over 1,000 years old had to have seen some challenging time. A good example is the Illinois state champion Bald Cypress tree. This 1,000 year old tree stands 73 feet tall and has a trunk circumference of 34 feet 3 inches. At first glance the tree isn't anything extraordinary, but as I paddled my kayak up to touch it, an overwhelming sense of history came over me.
The bald cypress is found in the lower cache river in southern Illinois. Several other state champion trees are found nearby. A cherrybark oak is found on the heron pond linkage trail. Heron pond is magical all by itself, but seeing this giant tree was the real highlight of my hike. Similarly a water tupelo tree is viewable from the section 8 woods boardwalk near the Henry Barkhausen Wetlands Nature Center.
Sometimes the tree makes a place memorable. For me, that was a banyan tree at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida. According to their website, it is the largest banyan tree in the continental United States, measuring in at 84 feet tall and 376 inches in circumference. The Estates is the proud home of two Florida Champion Trees and six former champions.
For more examples of big and historic trees, go to my new Pinterest Page. I created a board dedicated to the big and historic trees. It is found at pinterest.com/ILRiverHort. Go there and pin your own big tree experience to my board.