Sunday, October 05, 2008

Live Oaks on Ocracoke

Not long ago a reader asked about the ages of live oaks on Ocracoke. No one seems to know how old these majestic trees are, but estimates range from 350 years to 500 years, maybe even older for the largest trees.

With help from Chester Lynn I have been trying to photograph, measure, and document some of the oldest trees, both in the village, and on NPS land. I hope to have a monthly newsletter with more information in the coming months. In the meanwhile, enjoy this photo of what may be the largest live oak on Ocracoke Island. Measured about 3' from the ground, just below where the main trunk splits into several main branches, it is about 17' 3" in girth. It lives on Howard Street. The oak in the Methodist Church parsonage yard may be more impressive (the trunk does not divide, and it stands proudly right next to the lane), but it's girth is a "mere" 13' 9".

Our latest Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Assembly of God Church. You can read the newsletter by clicking here.


  1. Anonymous6:46 PM

    In March you mentioned going to Beaufort and made several recordings for StoryCorps.
    Has anything happened since then? Give us an update when you get a chance as I have not been able to find anything on any of the down east npr stations.
    Thank for your blog and the frequency of information.
    Sarah in Gastonia

  2. Anonymous10:55 PM

    The Live oaks are one of my favorite things on the island. I have loved them since I was a child. I fondly remember pulling off the road and wandering into the live oak grove near the campground as a child. To this day, I don't know if there is a more peaceful place in the entire world. I also love the old live oak tree that is near that same pull off by hammock hills. Am I correct to assume it was the "model" for the Village Craftsmen logo and signs? Is it still living? It looks like it was nearly dead the last time I was there. I fondly keep the drawing that you did of the live oak in my office here in Peru. It is a reminder of our little island paradise even when I am so far away. Thanks so much for your interesting blog.

    John aka OcracokeFan

  3. Anonymous3:35 AM


    What a pleasant surprise to open your blog this morning and see the article about the oak trees, and the photo of our cottage '58 on Howard'!

    Thank you for writing your daily blog. We're currenlty living far away in London, but your blog makes me feel like I'm right there on Ocracoke.


  4. Replies to comments:

    Re. StoryCorps: I did the interview in the spring, and immediately we were into our busy season, so I've put it on the back burner. Just this morning I asked David about uploading it to our web site as a monthly newsletter. I've never uploaded audio files, but David is helping me with this. Look for the interview in an upcoming newsletter (it may be several months because I have a couple of other newsletters in my queue).

    Re. Old Hammock Hills: The gnarled old tree is still there, but not in good shape. It is nearly obscured by vines and other vegetation. I walked right past it and didn't even see it. Only noticed it as I walked back out. Actually I was running, because the skeeters were voracious! I didn't pause, so I'm not sure if it's alive or dead. The mosquitoes were so bad that I couldn't call it peaceful down there. But I know it can be! But you are right that tree was the "model" for the VC logo.

    Kirsten: I'm glad you saw the photo of your tree! Your renters helped me measure it. I have registered the tree in the parsonage yard with the Live Oak Society, and I will register yours and a few others in the next week or so. I'll post more information in a future newsletter.

  5. This is a great topic. I've enjoyed the live oaks, and am amazed they grow as well on the island as they do in my parents property in central California.

    I've always thought that monster out on Springers Point might be one of the largest? Might be worth a trip with the measuring tape...

  6. I'll be doing a monthly newsletter about the live oaks on Ocracoke (including the trees at Springer's) sometime in the next few months.